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Operators to collaborate on mHealth services

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At the GSMA Mobile Health Summit, MTN highlighted the potential for operators to work together on the delivery of mobile health services.

In a press roundtable, Christian De Faria, senior VP of Commercial and Innovation for South African operator MTN, highlighted the potential for operators to collaborate on the delivery of mobile health services. ‚We should really explore how we can meaningfully deploy services, where and what the priorities are, so that maybe the industry can come together and say ‚when it comes to connectivity, let us do something together.’ And after, there will be differentiation when it comes to the products and services ‚ but at least, on the basic connectivity why not work together?‚ he said.

De Faria’s call for collaboration was echoed by Russell Perry, acting Chief Commercial Officer at rival operator Cell C, who noted: ‚as a mobile operator, we don’t want to take the stance where we have to do all this alone. I think it’s also important that all mobile operators work together for some shared services, a common platform.‚

However, De Faria also noted that when moving into new sectors, operators are not always welcomed with open arms, and that it is therefore important to achieve the right positioning. ‚Sometimes some people feel we are taking some of their bread and butter… When we launched mobile money, the banks came and said ‚guys, you cannot do this.’ When we launched music downloads via the internet, the music industry said ‚guys, don’t touch this, it’s my pie’,‚ he said.

Chris Ross, Managing Executive for Commercial Development at Vodacom South Africa, noted that when it comes to introducing new healthcare solutions, ‚we focus always on the costs, what we don’t focus on is the savings.‚ He said: ‚There is a huge infrastructure cost out there. By replacing that with mobile, you can reduce that cost by more than you would pay for the mobile services.‚

MTN’s De Faria echoed this theme, arguing that: ‚basic services do not require a huge investment, a huge running cost. If you have the right partner, these basic services which are not really complicated, can be brought to customers at a very affordable price.‚

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