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The Wireless King Kong

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
9/24/2003

LONDON -- Mobile Commerce World -- Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (Milan: TIM) earns a billion euros a year from data services and doesn’t want to share it with anyone, the managing director of Europe’s largest mobile carrier, Mauro Sentinelli, told a conference of wireless executives in London yesterday.

“We make four or five times the revenue from an active data user that we do from a voice user and eight times the revenue from an active MMS user,” he explained. “Data is gold for the balance sheet.”

Most of the profits come from person-to-person messaging, but Sentinelli expects content downloads to grow to 38 percent of all data revenues by 2007.

“In a way, this is unfortunate because we have to pay the content providers and share the revenues,” said Sentinelli, who is known across Europe for his entertaining straight-talk. “These third parties would like to bypass the operator, but we’re the King Kong in this market, and we can’t allow them to do that.”

Sentinelli’s comments were a refreshing change from the caring, sharing, “let’s all work together” talk that tends to come from the mouths of wireless executives in public forums, only to be forgotten when they get back to the office to hatch their pricing schemes and walled-garden services [Ed. note: Mwa Ha Ha! When they go over their alloted minutes, they are mine, all mine, I tell you!]

Sentinelli also shared a view of 3G that others in his position probably wouldn’t dare express: “High-speed interfaces to every user will cost us a huge amount of money, so the lower the speed the better the balance sheet.

“We need to be smarter with the technology to squeeze more from the network and get more money from the same pockets. We must always take into account the balance sheet in what is a very difficult game.”

— Gabriel Brown, Research Analyst, Unstrung

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