INTERVIEW: Stephen Stokols, CEO of disruptive MVNO FreedomPop (pictured), warned operators 5G will deliver only short-term financial gains, cautioning a change in mindset around data and value-added services is needed to guarantee long-term success.

Stokols, who heads up the US-based MVNO which offers a limited amount of communications services for free and makes money through upselling, said mobile operators are now facing up to the fact that data is becoming increasingly commoditised, in the same way voice and text have for the past ten years, with the price and revenue per GB dropping “significantly”.

The CEO believes this means operators must begin to develop a different model from just selling communications services to make money.

“There is always a little bit of hope when they launch a new network like 5G and bump prices back up, but the inevitable future is going to lie in the ability to sell value-added services and differentiated services, and this is really where these guys are going to make their money,” he said.

In an interview with Mobile World Live, Stokols also highlighted the importance of using the data operators generate from users to learn what kind of services people are interested in: a method FreedomPop uses today to target its offers to its customer base.

“The model we use – applied to user bases of 50 million or 100 million users – instead of the couple of million we have, represents a massive opportunity for carriers, particularly those that move first. That’s where carriers will end up. If you project out to around four years, you can see it already happening. There is M&A around content, premium brands and a big focus on digital services. The margins operators generate from this could then subsidise some of the network build outs.”

Stockols also discussed the benefits of launching an annual plan rather than monthly tariffs, and updated on the company’s progress in overseas markets like the UK and Spain.

Click here to watch.