Thursday, May 30, 2019

"One cannot judge the value of opinion simply by the amount of courage that is required in holding it," wrote George Orwell to Evelyn Waugh

The last few months public promotion of 5G by Ben Wood and his colleagues at CCS Insight have caused me to question my sanity. Have I lost my faculties or has Ben been bought as a "Social Media Influencer" by EE? Today's activity around the launch of 5G by EE has caused me to conclude that he has been bough lock, stock and barrel by BT and he should tag his posts as paid promotion. In Financial Services his approach would be called in for review and it should not be different in the telecoms world.

I would expect a first year GCSE Economics student to provide better coverage than Ben is currently doing as they would offer some balance and critical thinking about the recently launched 5G handsets and the launch services Mobile Networks are promoting in launching 5G. The issue is that Ben Wood has spent twenty years developing a brand and networking so that at the moment he is frequently quoted in the media. Some of this is that CEO's of Networks and Equipment Manufacturers are not as vocal as they were and so Journalists pressed for time to create a "package" seek out Ben for easy quotes.

EE are first to market with 5G in the UK, but not in Europe, they are less than a week ahead of Vodafone in launching and have chosen a network strategy that will require more base stations but not necessarily more capacity than Vodafone by the year end. The first subscribers for 5G are unlikely to have connected to the network for more than 15% of their usage by the end of the contract in TWO years. The "leadership" that EE claim to have established in the launch of 4G was such that if left it's then Parents seeking an exit from the UK and accepting a financial loss when sold to BT for equity alongside cash. BT was first to market with the launch of 1G, it had a property portfolio that meant that every base station needed up to 2000 could sit on it's estate rather than deal with third party landlords. Yet by 2000 it had been overtaken by Vodafone AND Orange in terms of leadership and had put Cellnet up for sale.

Thus the launch marketing for 5G by EE can be described as "brave" given the overwhelming demographic of BT's customer base and the very early stage we are in for 5G in terms of business case for consumers adopting the new service. For Ben Wood to take the optimistic view that EE are right to dash forward with a strategy he called "build it and they will come" requires a naivety greater than "the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind". 

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