One of my colleagues, Derek Mitchell, gave an interesting talk at VON on how mobile phone companies could increase loyalty and retention through personalization of services. His thesis is that there is a lot of information available within mobile networks that a lot of cellcos rarely use, including rough location information from the cell id, and country information if you are roaming. Also the choice of services that you subscribe to (like music downloads) may also allow them to infer things about you.Some of the things they could infer from traffic include:
So by only passively monitoring traffic, there is a lot of information to be gained and processed into market intelligence. Of course it will be imperfect, because some people have separate work and personal phones, and they do not necessarily come from the same cellco. However, you can see the ability to market services based on this information, for example differential rates at your workplace, or at home; they could offer you a traffic report covering your route home, just before you leave. There are many ideas waiting there to be tried.