Mobile technology is reshaping society and the global economy in ways that would have been unimaginable a decade ago.
Today faster mobile broadband is delivering services that allow consumers to download high definition video in minutes, play live multiplayer games, watch TV and make video calls on the go without buffering.
The proliferation of smartphones has connected people across the world, and by mid 2017, two thirds of the world's population had a mobile subscription – a total of 5 billion unique subscribers. By 2020, almost 860 million new subscribers will be added, taking the global penetration rate to 73%.
However, with mobile subscriber growth slowing and competition intensifying, many telecom operators are questioning whether they've had the best of times and the future outlook may not be so promising.
At this year's Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF 2017), held in London, the most influential decision makers from the ranks of operators, vendors and other participants in the mobile ecosystem gathered to explore how to achieve sustainable growth in the future.
In the opening keynote presentation at MBBF 2017, Huawei Rotating CEO Ken Hu, said "What if these operators were told they could tap into 1 billion new subscribers offering sustainable mobile revenues?"
These new subscribers are modern connected cows, dairy herds that wear mobile connected sensors. In China, operators are helping dairy farmers track their dairy herds by using Huawei's NB-IoT technology which provides longer battery life, cost savings and greater coverage. Through the collection of biometric information from the NB-IoT devices, farmers can monitor the cows' movement and health and let them graze further, to better manage milk production.
The results are nothing short of impressive – farmer profitability has increased by 50%, equal to $420 per cow, per year, and for the telecom operator every connected cow is a new subscriber, bringing $10 per cow, per year.
"You could say the connected cow is a cash cow for dairy farmers and operators. And the opportunity doesn't end there. Connecting 'things' such as the world's 20 million shipping containers, 100 million new bicycles, 300 million LED streetlamps and 1.8 billion water meters, are bringing new services to industries, cities, businesses, and homes, and placing operators at the center of this new mobile world. But driving the connectivity of everything requires fresh thinking, smarter networks and a stronger ecosystem," said Mr. Hu.