Mobile data has been a bit of a theme recently on the blog. It must be trendy1. This is quite gratifying because when Timico was set up 8 years ago this Easter the mobile play was part of the vision of an overall convergence story that also included IP data networks and VoIP. At the time the sales pitch was the convenience of being able to source all your communications requirements from one supplier and on one bill. The approach back then was pretty revolutionary and stood us in good stead.
What we couldn’t foresee at the time was how the use of mobile data would grow and the effects of the more powerful mobile handset on our patterns of behaviour. That early decision to include mobile in the portfolio is now starting to payback and today we are announcing a case study with customer Murco Petroleum.
Last Autumn we got our first Ethernet connection into the O2 3G data network. The plan was to offer customers a cost effective multi-tentant version of the secure APN (Access Point Name – don’t ask) used by large corporations as private mobile Wide Area Networks. The resulting Mobile Access Management service is what is being used by Murco today as a mobile backup to their Timico broadband based MPLS WAN – the key infrastructure over which they carry secure payment transactions.
This MAM service has some significant benefits over the use of mobile VPN technologies. We can incorporate MAM networks “natively” into core MPLS networks so that any failover sits instantly and securely within the same corporate environment, behind the same firewall as the fixed network.
The packet overhead is greatly reduced – protocols such as IPSec can take up a disproportionate amount of the available mobile data bandwidth significantly affecting the effective usable bandwidth.
As an added benefit if you are using MAM in a moving environment – on a train for example – if connectivity is momentarily lost between cell sites, once back up the VPN connection does not need to be re-established. It is inherently there.
The overall result is a secure data connection that, when added to a broadband or Ethernet network, provides a high degree of reliability. When applied to card payment network, as is the case with Murco the business case is compelling. The cost of the mobile SIM is tiny compared to the revenues secured especially when you consider that the takings of some petrol stations can be in the region of tens of thousands of pounds a day.
During the rollout of the 3G service Murco’s flagship petrol station had an outage. Someone had stolen a load of BT copper and the whole locale was without comms. This garage sells £200k worth of petrol a week. The outage happened at 8.30am so we changed the schedule of the rollout for that location and sent in a man with a router with the MAM connection. The garage was uo and running by 4pm. It took 4 weeks for BT to replace the copper but thanks to MAM during that time there was normal service at the Murco site!!! £200kx4 = £800k!!!!! Murco does have a paper backup for credit card processing but this takes time, creates queues and generates unhappy customers.
Although Murco is our first published case study for this service MAM, is already being used in a number of market sectors including the construction industry where rapid deployment of mobile data connections onto new building sites, for example is driving productivity efficiencies and therefore cost savings.
Mobile data technology, as I have alluded to in recent blog posts, is going to be a critical part of the communications landscape and in this case, thanks to its partnership with O2, Timico has a real technology lead.
I’ll be writing some more stuff about mobile data in due course. If you want to know more you can read check out this landing page.
1 or of course about to become trendy – you heard it first etc… 😉