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JDSU Urges Ops to Sell Their Location Data

There's big money in selling aggregated, anonymous subscriber data to businesses wanting to study customer trends, vendor says.

Sarah Thomas

August 22, 2013

3 Min Read
JDSU Urges Ops to Sell Their Location Data

As operators hash out their big-data strategies, the prospect of monetizing the stashes of customer data they have accumulated is looking increasingly appealing. JDS Uniphase (JDSU) wants to help them do it without ruffling any feathers.

The test and measurement vendor's new Location Insights Services (LIS), a variation on the more familiar location-based services (LBS), is born from its March acquisition of geolocation software maker Arieso. The idea is that mobile operators take the wealth of location data they already have at their disposal, aggregate and anonymize it, and sell it to businesses who want to study the trends to inform decisions, such as where they should open their next storefront, where customers may shop next, or where and when they should display ads to reach a certain demographic.

JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) says its GEOinsights application lets them share this data bundled by external systems without the need for complex system integration with data warehouses.

LIS differs from traditional LBS in that the data collected is not down to the individual and it doesn't require them to opt in or accept ads on their smartphones. It's the business-to-business or business-to-government approach, as Dr. Michael Flanagan, CTO of the Arieso business unit at JDSU, describes it.

"Location Insight Services is not trying to provide an instantaneous answer on current location, but telling more about how that is trending," he says.

And, it's a market that could be worth $11 billion by 2016, according to JDSU's own research, carried out by STL Partners. Flanagan says operators could opt to directly sell their data to businesses or work with a partner that would manage the service and combine their data with other operators.

Why this matters
The potential money to be made from customer data is certainly compelling. It's led a number of wireless operators to start exploring these kinds of big-data services already. In the US, Verizon Wireless formed what it calls Precision Market Insights division in 2012 to sell customer data to third parties, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has updated its customer privacy policy to allow it to aggregate customer data to sell to advertising and marketing firms. It gave customers the ability to opt out, which turned out to be a good call as a number weren't happy about it. (See AT&T Eyes Big Data Revenues.)

Even thought this type of aggregation is much less personal than individually targeted LBS, operators will still have to tread carefully. Telefónica Digital learned the hard way that services have to be transparent and end-user controlled after its plan to sell anonymized data to retailers in Germany prompted a backlash. (See Telefónica Digital Plays By Its Own Rules .)

And, if there's one thing the NSA scandal has taught us, it's that people are sensitive to what data is tracked and how it's used, even if operators are technically operating within their rights. It's a big opportunity, but one operators will also have to keep in check.

For more

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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