Tag Archives: Telecom

What did the Great Telco Debate learn from MWC?

The Great Telco Debate may not be on the scale of MWC, but it is a year long process of analysing the telecoms industry from every possible angle to shape the programme for the event. MWC was a great opportunity to reconsider the topics from 2016 and draw from market developments. Using last year’s debate titles, here are my take-aways from the Barcelona jamboree.

  • Telco’s role in the digital economy: The jury is still out on the extent to which telcos can exploit digital. There are plenty of autonomous car examples but little new revenue upside for telcos – emphasising the need for ‘ruthless’ simplification of the business (Cisco)
  • Customer experience: Telefonica’s 4th platform does look like a refreshingly new approach to acknowledging peoples’ data and giving something back to the customers as well as improving overall service levels
  • Softwarisation of the telco: This is probably the most important aspect of this wave of industry transformation and there was plenty of evidence from open source virtualisation and edge computingto cloud the picture (Amdocs, HPE, Huawei)
  • IOT: The industry is finally realising that massive connectivity revenues are not likely from IOT, but the real demand will come from supporting different industry ecosystems via platforms and overall integration (Ericsson, Cisco)
  • 5G: It was fascinating that most 5G initiated discussions dropped back to a more robust 4G delivery to support video as well as overall data needs (Ericsson, T-Mobile US ,Telstra)

There is no doubt that telcos are acknowledging the reality of innovation coming from ‘Interpreneurs’ and suppliers, as well as from apps developers driving the telco to be more open and accepting of ideas ‘not made here’ (Orange).

Ironically, given the endless pursuit of innovation, the re-launch of the classic Nokia 3310 drew a lot of attention. Harking back to simplicity, fewer messaging options (no apps) and longer battery life, certainly grabbed peoples’ attention. However, I wonder if those writing about the old classic were more represented by the older generation rather than the younger, smart-phone raised app enthusiasts!

In terms of discussion topics for the Great Telco Debate 2017, doubtless other themes will rise to the surface. Security is one obvious elephant in the room, as is the role of telco in industries such as automotive and healthcare. Also, Artificial Intelligence will worm its way into every aspect of the market and promises many changes in performance, behaviour and outcomes.

Whether you are from the telco, supplier or analyst side or indeed any other interested party, please get in touch if you have ideas you think should be incorporated into the Great Telco Debate on 30th November 2017. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Plotting the telecoms future

We are entering a major annual planning cycle for many players in the ICT industry. The challenge for the telecoms sector is that there are so many moving parts, some positive, some negative and all interacting with each other. And with the increasing digitisation of everything, factors from outside the telecoms market will seriously impact the future shape of telecoms. Indeed, one thought for the backburner is whether we will even think of telecoms services as a market in the future – but that’s for another day!

The basic equation for the telecoms market looks something like:

  • Demand from individuals, households and businesses and now ,‘Things’ (M2M) continues to grow as communications expands its horizons both in numerical and volume terms.
  • Total Revenues from traditional and new connectivity services are either in decline or about to go into decline – it is still a very big number overall, something like $1.4 trillion worldwide. The mix of legacy and new revenues varies by country but few doubt the gap left once the legacy services have washed through the system
  • New revenue streams such as TV/media, IT services, security, cloud, M2m all have attractive connectivity dependent components but they are also being addressed by other parts of the ICT industry and generally have lower margins than the connectivity services
  • Applications and content leveraging the telecoms networks are increasingly disconnected from the telecoms world and increasingly linked to the apps and links on our multiple screens through which we consume and execute
  • Maintaining a network infrastructure that can handle the explosion in traffic across all access methods and across the core, including in and out of data centres, needs major investment along with a rationalisation of the internal ICT infrastructure for most operators if margins are to be maintained, let alone grown

We need to recalibrate the expectations of the industry and its investors. Perhaps considering how many connections per household, individual, business and ‘thing’ require  and a fixed rate of revenue for each. This would define the worst case scenario, but still potentially very profitable. Add to this a percentage of the adjacent markets from ICT and Media and two-sided business models from pretty much every industry sector, and we have the potential future addressable market. However, remember that this new digital world means that the adjacent market incumbents can equally enter the telecoms space!.

There is fundamentally a lot of ‘spend’ at stake from all on the demand side. As everything digitises the demand side is increasingly likely to dictate through which channel the service (including connectivity) is consumed. So, a multi-channel strategy is needed along with major network and ICT rationalisation to bring the telco of the future into the new digital era.

Don’t get me wrong, Telecoms does have an underpinning role in the future scenario.  It may not necessarily be as the deliverer of the final service function or feature but there is a fundamental role at the heart of the new digital era for a trusted, reliable provider of the digital glue.

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