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Mobile Service Providers (MSP) have been advised to look beyond their traditional connectivity business and explore opportunities in the $5.3 billion utilities market.

This is according to ABI Researcha market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.

The research firm notes in a statement that the utilities sector is forecasted to present a $5.3 billion opportunity by 2022.

The firm adds that "MSPs need to think as an 'UnTelco', which ABI Research defines as MSPs’ activities, strategies, and opportunities beyond their traditional connectivity business."

MSPs are at a turning point: to stay competitive they must use UnTelco strategies to capture new revenues and opportunities.

“The energy utility market is in the midst of major digitization with new technologies, players, and market opportunities that are disrupting the traditional status quo. MSPs must act now and target adjacent areas from the smart home to off-grid energy generation” said Pablo Tomasi, Senior Analyst at ABI Research.

Tomasi added: “MSPs must use their network expertise to help utilities manage and connect their dispersed networks, they must deliver solutions that support utilities’ digitisation efforts in smart workforce and security, and they must partner with utilities to create synergies in new growth areas such as the smart city. MSPs connectivity can be an entry point but cannot be the end goal. Otherwise, they could miss out on the expansion of related opportunities as happened with the explosion of over-the-top (OTT) services.”

Some MSPs are beginning to understand the need to innovate and implement UnTelco strategies and are moving beyond their traditional connectivity limits. “This is encouraging for the sector,” notes Tomasi.

“For instance, Orange delivers off-grid energy solutions across several of its African markets, creating a new customer channel, building an ecosystem, and expanding the use of its mobile money offering. Turkcell provides another example as the MSP eyes the energy retail market to strengthen its position in the highly potential smart home market.”

In the smart home, MSPs can bundle their energy offerings along with other traditional or digital services, increasing customers’ ARPU and loyalty.

With competition in the digitisation game increasing, MSPs need UnTelco business models now, not when 5G will be widely deployed. If MSPs wait for 5G, they will be too late to lead the digitisation of the markets as other players will already be established.

MSPs should use whatever technology is available to them today and understand what internal processes are needed to implement an UnTelco business model.