Affiliated Organization



Mobile operators have made massive investments in spectrum and infrastructure to provide mobile broadband content services on ‘mobile Internet’. Faced with considerable uncertainty regarding market growth, technology options and regulatory policies, the introduction of broadband services requires the integration of multiple and diverse technologies and business models across organizations. We present a detailed theory-based study of how technologies and organizations’ interests are aligned and coordinated in order to launch 3G broadband wireless services in the United Kingdom. Actor-network theory is adopted as a theoretical lens for understanding how the relationships among the actors have been shaped by the industry’s history as well as by the possibilities created by new technologies and standards. Drawing upon 17 interviews of executives from key players in the UK mobile wireless industry including network operators, content providers, regulators and technology/service innovators we conclude that the actor-network around broadband wireless services has yet to stabilize. Wireless network operators continue to explore a range of alternative relationships with content providers and other actors while uncertainties in the environment remain unresolved. Network operators’ strategies and relationships with other business and technological actors differ considerably. We explain both the rationales behind these distinct arrangements and historical “weight” of established media and fixed telecom industries in the UK. These established industries lie behind some unique arrangements with content providers and fixed network operators that have emerged during the last years. The configuration of the emerging actor-networks in the UK are contrasted with those in the US and Korea.