Around the World

Posted: July 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

CommsMEA
Customer Acquisition
Consumer demand is forcing operators to look for new and creative ways to expand their businesses and generate profit. Some operators are increasing their network capacity to capitalize on the growing popularity of smart devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, and uptake of data services, while others are rethinking how to create loyalty and reduce churn through close customer focus.

As journalist Nithyasree Trivikram writes, in the Middle East, “where there are low-end subscribers and high penetration levels, there is more of a focus on strong distribution and active promotions” that target different customer segments. In comparison, with higher-end, mobile broadband services, operators will brand dongles and bundle them with value added services; for example, Vodafone Qatar offered free Facebook access to acquire customers and are also enhancing customer service by speaking over five languages in their call centres.

Moving forward, Nithyasree predicts that telcos will veer away from the primary role of network operators, and instead increase their focus on developing partnerships, digitizing the economy, and improving customer experience.

Total Telecom…
India May Auction More Wireless Broadband Spectrum
India’s Department of Telecommunications stated that it may auction more bandwidth for wireless broadband services. The main goal may be to boost the government’s finances; last year, the auctioning of two slots of wireless broadband brought in $8.23 billion. But, the operator benefits include the ability to provide high-speed Internet access as well as Internet telephony and television services. Auction winners can eventually use the bandwidth for voice and high-speed data services, as well. This is perhaps even more important as the future of more 2G and 3G bandwidth remains uncertain.

It will be interesting to see how this plan unfolds throughout the coming months. In a previous Around the World blog post, we highlighted India’s telecom landscape and the country’s insatiable demand for mobile communications services. This article is proof that legislation will play a big role in India’s future growth.

Computerworld…
Telco Cloud Providers Must Partner with IT Services Players: Ovum
According to a new report from analyst firm Ovum, telcos face operational challenges when it comes to offering cloud services. Ovum analyst and report author Mark Giles believes that operators have focused on getting cloud services to market quickly rather than on the complex and timely process of adapting their existing OSS/BSS to fit a cloud delivery model. But, the analyst notes, telcos can truly make their mark in the cloud by bringing internal network and IT teams together and collaborating with IT providers.

However, not everyone agrees with Ovum’s views. Alex Leslie of Connected Planet thinks that the analyst firm “missed the mark” and over-generalised in its report. He argues that telcos have invested in OSS/BSS technologies like real-time charging and policy control in order to support cloud’s on-demand service delivery model. Which opinion do you agree with?


Q2 2011: An Update on Comptel’s Business and Strategy

Posted: July 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Q2 2011: An Update on Comptel’s Business and Strategy

Today, we announced our results for the second quarter of 2011 and the first half of this financial year.

This past quarter has been a decent one for Comptel. Our order flow improved from the previous year, and our business developed favourably in the Middle East and Africa, where the measures initiated late last year, such as investments in customer service and consulting resources, have yielded results. In our largest market, Europe, the net sales remained low, which was the main reason for a decreased Group net sales. However, we are optimistic that the decision to split Europe into East and West, and to reorganise our operations to get closer to customers, will help improve the situation. Overall, Comptel’s financial position remained strong during this period.

Looking beyond the figures, the first half of 2011 has been a busy one for Comptel. We attended a number of large events, including Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, February) and Management World (Dublin, May), and held our very own Comptel User Group – CUG (Helsinki, June). All of these were excellent showcases for us, and we had many successful business meetings. We also closed 10 deals of over €500K in value (compared to eight in the same period last year), including four that we consider strategic (NBN CO and three Comptel Control & Charge) deals. Also, as mentioned above, we reorganised to bring our sales and services capabilities closer to our customers and prospects. In particular, we grew our sales force in Australia, Germany, Italy, Russia and the UK. We also made a number of new appointments to the board.

Going forward, Comptel will continue to invest further in the development of our sales and service channels, as well as in our products.

So all in all, it was a busy first half of the year, and we have an even busier second half ahead of us!


Video Making up the Majority of Mobile Network Traffic

Posted: July 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

By Samantha Tanner, Telecoms IQ at IQPC

It’s been widely reported that video is making up the majority of mobile network traffic. Most recently, research has revealed that more than two-thirds of consumers are watching video on the iOS platform compared to other smartphone operating systems. The report from Futuresource further confirms that the increased viewing of mobile video has been driven by the huge uptake of smartphones and tablets, such as the iPad. However, the consulting firm, like many others, is sending out a warning message to mobile operators—many of which are going to start (and are already) coming under increased pressure to better manage the data and resources like bandwidth as the mobile video explosion continues.

In a recent Telecoms IQ interview, Jim Morrish and Matt Hatton from Machina Research highlighted the choice that mobile operators have to make when deciding how they want to handle the data they receive from these devices:

“So with that growth in traffic from smartphones and these nebulous other devices, what are the implications for operators? Well, obviously, they’ve got a choice. Either they spend a lot of money upgrading the network in order to cope with that demand, which might not necessarily be profitable given the relative prices of mobile data compared to more traditional services. Or, they can leave money on the table, or they can provide a full user experience—none of these are particularly appealing propositions.”

Morrish and Hatton then went on to identify a number of ways in which mobile operators can manage this vast growth in mobile video usage and data traffic, but both were in agreement that it would be ideal to gain more spectrum:

“Getting hold of additional spectrum is obviously going to be a strong method of dealing with additional demand. Taking a European country as a typical example, 3G has around 150 MHz of spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band. There are two potential extra sets of spectrum available for use of data. The first is newly available spectrum, so that’s the 800 MHz digital dividend spectrum and the 2.6 GHz spectrum. Now that will add an additional 250-260 MHz of spectrum to the current 150 MHz.”

Of course, greater network capacity can only work to each operator’s advantage as better bandwidth and the ability to crunch through more data becomes more attractive to customers. For example, in the U.S., AT&T has been under attack for not being able to match the network capacity of rival Verizon, who won most of the bids for open spectrum in 2008. However, AT&T saw another route in gaining more spectrum this year, with the purchase of T-Mobile. But, it remains to be seen whether this will provide a fix to the capacity crunch.

Additionally, DNA has teamed up with Comptel in order to control traffic congestion on Radio Access Networks in real time and allow for maximum network utilisation—and remain competitive in Finland’s fierce mobile market.

Image via Mobile Marketing Watch

To read the full interview with Jim Morrish and Matt Hatton and to find out more information on Telecoms IQ’s Spectrum Management & Network Optimisation conference in September, please visit www.spectrummanagementevent.com.


Around the World

Posted: July 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Gulf News…
Mobile Broadband on Growth Track

A recent Informa Telecoms & Media report indicates that mobile broadband growth in the Middle East and Africa will outpace that of fixed broadband. In fact, mobile broadband subscriptions are set to multiply more than 16 times to 430.7 million by the end of 2015, up from 25.39 million in 2010.

These numbers are a bit deceiving though, as the high incidence of multiple SIM use means that the number of unique users is markedly lower than the number of unique subscriptions. As the article points out, this will continue to be the case in the coming years because users want to take advantage of promotions and on-net tariffs, and due to the varied quality of service and extent of network coverage offered by different operators.

Mobile broadband growth is also causing claims that bandwidth hogs will make it difficult for operators to profitably run their networks, and leaving consumers wondering about how much bandwidth they are actually using. Like we’ve previously discussed, policy control can give communications service providers (CSPs) the levers they need to control service/resource supply, encourage customer demand with a more intelligent approach to bandwidth management, and see revenue growth.

The Wall Street Journal…
EU Roaming Data Caps Could Help Mobile Industry

This article discusses the European Commission’s plan to regulate the mobile roaming market, lower the data and voice charges incurred when traveling abroad and ultimately reduce bill shock. Currently, Europeans are paying an average of €2.2/MB. The proposed plan will dramatically reduce that number to 90¢/MB starting July 1, 2012 and falling even lower to 50¢/MB by July 1, 2015. As Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, stated:

“Competition is still very weak. Customers still get a raw deal when they cross borders. Operators still enjoy outrageous margins, particularly on data downloads.

Within a single market, there is simply no justification for huge mark-ups, just because you’ve crossed an invisible internal border that is supposed to have disappeared. And just because customers have little or no choice in the matter.”

Although this strategy would seemingly have a negative impact on CSPs’ revenues, these cuts may actually work in operators’ favour since high prices may be preventing people from using their phones while abroad. What do you think the new regulations will mean for the industry’s future?

Telecom Asia…
Innovation Requires Collaboration

Ovum’s Innovation Radar series highlights telco innovation in the second half of 2010. After tracking 300 new service launches across the fixed and mobile market segments, the analyst firm found a major trend—telcos are now innovating more collaboratively. They are carving a niche for themselves with adaptable structures that can support innovation rather than seeking to simply create the next best application. The telcos that did this, while leveraging their networks, brands, customer relationships, partnerships, etc., made significant strides at the end of last year. Analyst Emeka Obiodu also noted that, “the pre-eminence of the adaptable structure is going to become more pronounced as telcos move towards the future of SMART (operators that provide services, management, applications, relationships and technology) and LEAN (low-cost enablers of agnostic networks) players.”


Viva Las Vegas! Comptel Goes to Cisco Live!

Posted: July 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Viva Las Vegas! Comptel Goes to Cisco Live!

Comptel is attending Cisco Live!, taking place 10-14 July in Las Vegas. In 2010, our partner’s U.S. event had 12,700 registrants; this year, Cisco is expecting to have more IT and communications professionals travel to Las Vegas (four of which will be from Comptel) than ever before.

For those of us not attending the actual show, we can always follow the event virtually. In 2010, the virtual event had more than 4000 visitors—it will be interesting to see if these figures will surpass those of last year as well.

Whether in Las Vegas or in front of their computers, attendees can choose from more than 500 technical sessions or attend several keynote sessions, the first of which CEO John Chambers will lead today. Then tomorrow, two dynamic ladies, CTO Padmasree Warrior and CIO Rebecca Jacoby, will take the stage and give their views on Cisco’s technology vision, including the impact on Cisco’s IT and business strategy.

Comptel is exhibiting (booth #2080—next to the Cisco Live! Lounge), and is available to demonstrate our fulfillment and cloud chargeback (based on Comptel Convergent Mediation) solutions, which are key to our Cisco partnership.

If Cisco Live!’s technical sessions, keynotes or World of Solutions expo hall, as well as the event’s evening entertainment, are not enough, and you are not keen on gambling, why not dive with the sharks! Dive-certified Mandalay Bay guests will now have the opportunity to scuba dive in the 1.3 million gallon, 22-foot deep Shipwreck Exhibit, surrounded by sharks, rays, sawfish, green sea turtles and schools of fish. Viva Las Vegas!


Recapping the SIMposium, Berlin, 28-29 June

Posted: July 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Recapping the SIMposium, Berlin, 28-29 June

Last week, I travelled to Berlin for SIMposium 2011, organised by SIMalliance in partnership with Informa Telecoms & Media. The conference was a great platform for hearing about new contactless technologies, discussing emerging business models and addressing market challenges and the opportunities of machine-to-machine (M2M) for specific enterprise verticals.

Over the course of the two days, it became clear that Near Field Communications (NFC), M2M and handling identity/security were the primary topics of conversation. For starters, NFC was displayed in many context-enabling solutions; these ranged from e-wallet services all the way to public transportation payment systems. Now that NFC pilots are showing promise on the commercial side, it seems that solution providers’ imaginations are flying high! It will certainly be interesting to see what else is rolled out in the coming months. However, the key to future NFC uptake and to these projects being successful will be to make the solution benefits clear to end-users without making things overly technical.

M2M was also on every operator’s lips at SIMposium. There was a clear consensus that M2M will happen in a major way. Most operators believe that the challenges of M2M are different from those on the consumer side, and to address these, there needs to be a dedicated organization, network infrastructure and offering. Furthermore, M2M customers are looking for global connectivity, which means partnering (and possibly unified roaming pricing) for operators.

The first industry to make M2M really happen might be automotive and transportation, with the legislation in Europe (eCall) and Brasil (Resolution 245) being main drivers for the deployment. M2M is clearly made for verticals that represent different niches, which naturally makes things more complex for operators. Standardisation will help somewhat, but as one operator said at the event, the market is not waiting for standardisation.

Soft SIMs versus SIM cards was another very hot topic during the two-day event. The general view at the conference seemed to be that soft SIMs will gain popularity, but the security provided by regular SIM cards is currently far better. Managing SIMs’ identities securely via over-the-air (OTA) is increasingly important, especially as embedded SIMs become more attractive, because OTA is the only way to handle them. It became clear at SIMposium that SIM-based identity is a key concern for operators, and that there always will be a compromise between security and usability, no matter what the solution is. (One interesting application of note was SIM-based authentication to log on to Wi-Fi networks; in essence, the Wi-Fi customer experience needs to be as seamless as the 3G customer experience.)

Although NFC, M2M and identity management/security were top of mind, it seemed that many SIMposium attendees debated removable versus embedded SIMs—but there are clear benefits for both. For removable SIMs, the ease of switching from one device to another is undeniable; however, embedded SIMs can be placed on devices more freely without relying on ports to access them.

The SIM partner ecosystem is visibly growing, as evident with representatives from card manufacturers, device management vendors and operators, among others, in attendance at last week’s event. Comptel is very excited about this area—feel free to share your thoughts or questions about the market or the conference with us in the comments section.


Survey Says: Close Customer Focus and Real-Time Data Analysis Key

Posted: July 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

In addition to organising an industry analyst day and customer / partner presentations, Comptel moderated an interactive session focused on the customer experience during last month’s Comptel User Group (CUG). The session, which involved our partners Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent, surveyed nearly 100 attendees on the evolving state of the customer experience, the role network and other service data and OSS play, and the significant potential revenue opportunities for communications service providers (CSPs). Like our past research, it yielded quite interesting results!

Respondents first indicated that they believe CSPs, when compared to over-the-top (OTT) players, device manufacturers and operating system companies, provide the best customer experience. However, as Cisco’s Russ Kaufmann brought up, OTT players have a head start in providing good customer experience for cloud services. Alcatel-Lucent’s Pierre Dubost also made a good point—if asked the question of who provides the best customer experience two years ago, there likely would have been a very different answer. But, CSPs are really trying to invest in customer care and focus on driving brand loyalty rather just pushing products.

Supporting this, nine out of ten participants pointed to customer experience management as one of the major factors contributing to operators’ survival and success—because as Kaufmann pointed out, when things do go wrong, it can greatly affect churn. These responses support those of a Comptel-sponsored Vanson Bourne survey, which previously identified customer experience management as a significant potential revenue opportunity. Eighty-seven percent of consumers said that their quality of experience influences their allegiance to their CSP, and the majority of them would not only move but also pay more money for faster, more personalised services.

While the importance of a high customer experience was clear, there was general agreement that it’s difficult to determine what exactly will satisfy each customer. More than half (55%) of participants indicated that network performance has the greatest influence on the customer experience, yet all of the other responses varied. Dubost was right in saying that all of these factors are impactful—ultimately, CSPs require a holistic view of customer behaviour in order to better manage (and take the necessary actions to ensure) the customer experience.

Clearly aligned in thought, 100% of survey respondents recognised the value of leveraging network and other service data and their OSS; however, only about one-third of CSPs noted that they are fully utilising this information. There is a huge opportunity for operators to gain superior insight into customers and improve end-users’ experiences. With real-time data analysis and a close customer focus, CSPs can also boost their bottom lines, for example, through profiling for targeted marketing campaigns and traffic shaping for premium services.

Comptel is excited to see how operators take advantage of the opportunities a real-time, interactive and personalised OSS platform presents. What do you think of the interactive session discussion? For more information about the survey results, please contact comptel.marketing@comptel.com.