Bandwidth Caps & 4K TV: A Glimpse into Telco’s Future

Posted: April 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Bandwidth Caps & 4K TV: A Glimpse into Telco’s Future

Last month, Sky and TalkTalk announced that they would be teaming up to build fibre-optic infrastructure across a number of cities in the UK.  This is an important landmark, as more operators look ahead into architectures based entirely on IP.

As Sky and TalkTalk experiment with an architecture that can pipe broadband direct into homes and businesses, this new infrastructure will provide customers with one of the most exciting things on the horizon: 4K TV.

4K TV is about four times as high-definition as regular HD TV, but the crystal-clear picture comes with a diamond-like price. Most consumers aren’t going to adopt 4K TV until that price drops and, until then, there’s another problem – 4K movies consume anywhere from 45 to 60 gigs of bandwidth when downloaded. Still, that hasn’t stifled the enthusiasm for this kind of media. When Comptel was at Mobile World Congress, 4KTV technology figured centrally into a lot of devices on display at the show, as you can see to the left.

This data demand will have big implications for communications service providers (CSPs). Deutsche Telekom said that customers today use about 15GB to 20GB each month. The operator, among many others, is looking at capping bandwidth usage. In this case, a lower-end plan would be capped at 75 GB.

So if 4K media becomes widely used, CSPs may have to radically change bandwidth models to accommodate the sheer diversity of Internet use – some people will be using astronomically more data than others. And by taking a closer look at the situation with 4K TV, we can get a glimpse of this future.

DSL, Cable and Consumers

The current battle in the European Union is between cable and DSL connections. DSL currently makes up 74 percent of broadband connections. While 93 percent of households in the U.S. can choose between cable or DSL, only 42 percent of households in Europe can choose a cable connection.

That leaves a long way to go when you consider the bandwidth requirements of something like 4K TV. Infrastructure will have to be upgraded significantly to allow for higher speeds, or Europe will have to pursue fibre-optic connections, which may or may not be economically viable. Especially in the current climate.

That may be why Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, is convinced that 4K TV will be “the first format that is Internet only.” He believes that broadcast, cable and satellite won’t be able to support the technology. Netflix has already stocked up on some ultra HD videos and even plans to shoot the second season of its self-produced, award-winning series, House of Cards, in 4K.

But which consumers will be able to afford the bandwidth these videos use, given the slow and steady implementation of new caps? Netflix is already planning ahead for this, offering most videos in four different formats and helping users skirt these data limits.

If 4K can’t be broadcast through the digital air without a specific platform on the CSP’s end, subscribers will have to instead find ultra-fast connections just to experience it. The odds are good, too, that they’ll be streaming video from different devices. And, in doing so, they’ll need more bandwidth than ever before.

More Control, More Options

As we’ve seen with the U.S.’s ruling on net neutrality, CSPs are trying to figure out the best way to price the fluctuating costs and rapidly growing requirements of bandwidth usage. With enormous and diverse audiences – and new, bandwidth-heavy innovations like 4K TV – it’s becoming apparent that CSPs need to find a different way to manage traffic. In many cases, this may be where software-defined networking (SDN) and network field virtualization (NFV) come into play, because these technologies will help create a more intelligent and seamless process when it comes to managing changing data needs.

A lot of these changes will also have to do with making the network and service fulfillment process able to deliver an excellent customer experience. It may require applying contextual intelligence to optimise connections for high-value customers. As CSPs create new plans to accommodate more people than ever before, finding a way to get the right service package to them – as fast and efficiently as possible – will become paramount.

Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

– Executive strategies for 2014

– Barriers to integration

– Technology priorities

– Attitudes toward data & planning


Comptel Customer Mobily Named Finalist in TM Forum Excellence Awards

Posted: April 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Customer Mobily Named Finalist in TM Forum Excellence Awards

For the past eight years, the TM Forum Excellence Awards have recognised operational and business excellence through the use of the Forum’s best practices and standards by member companies across the telecommunications industry. We’d like to extend our congratulations to Middle Eastern operator Mobily, who was named a finalist in the Operational Excellence category of this year’s programme.

Mobily’s story is a compelling one. Since launching in 2005, the communications service provider (CSP) has enjoyed rapid growth. But disparate applications began to present challenges. These included a disconnect between architecture and design principals, multiple applications covering the same business process for different segments, and multiple links between various applications, resulting in unclear boundaries of business processes.

To remedy these issues, Mobily turned to Comptel. Our objectives were clear: the CSP required a leaner organisation and optimised operations. It wanted to save future costs of building new capabilities on top of in-house applications, while making reductions in terms of support, ensuring shorter time-to-market for new offers and products, and improving the customer experience.

By leveraging our portfolio of OSS/BSS solutions, Mobily’s achievements have been astounding! For example, new product launches that previously took nearly two days can now be accomplished in approximately 30 minutes. And, fulfillment orders that used to take up to 15 minutes are now processed in 10 seconds.

We are very pleased with the CSP’s operational transformation – and it’s even better to see the hard work that went into this project recognised. Congratulations again to Mobily as well as the other CSP finalists in this year’s TM Forum Excellence Awards. We are looking forward to the ceremony at TM Forum Live!, taking place 2-5 June in Nice, France!

What’s new with SDN and the Cloud?

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on What’s new with SDN and the Cloud?

As communications service providers (CSPs) compete with over-the-top providers (OTT) for revenue, there’s an increasing emphasis on them to beef up their responsiveness and agility. Many CSPs are evaluating software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV) and the cloud as ways to achieve this. But will SDN and NFV be a revolution or an evolution? And are CSPs going to turn to commercial networks or open source ones? We decided to comb the Twittersphere to see what kinds of developments were happening around these topics this week:

If you would like to learn more about Comptel’s thoughts on SDN, NFV and more, set up a meeting with us at TM Forum Live!

Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

– Executive strategies for 2014

– Barriers to integration

– Technology priorities

– Attitudes toward data & planning


Comptel’s Q1/2014 Results and Review

Posted: April 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel’s Q1/2014 Results and Review

At the end of the last year, Comptel stated that our main objectives remain largely the same as for the year 2013: we will continue to invest in the new businesses (Comptel Fulfillment, Comptel Analytics and Comptel Policy and Charging Control), drive the expansion to new countries and substantially increase our collaboration with partners.

Our order backlog increased from the last quarter and we won three new customers during the first quarter of 2014. We received a new Comptel Analytics deal with a leading Asian operator, Globe Telecom, a Comptel Fulfillment deal in Colombia and a Comptel Convergent Mediation deal in New Zealand.

During the quarter, we signed a strategic partnership with Tech Mahindra and also won our first joint project after the partnership agreement.

Our year-over-year net sales declined to 18.0 million (21.2 million) due to seasonality swings between quarters. We divested one of our legacy businesses that also contributed slightly negatively to our order intake and revenue.

Our profitability improved compared to the first quarter of the last year and our cost base is now lower due to earlier implemented cost saving measures. We maintained a strong cash flow (7.2 million) throughout the quarter and currently our cash exceeds our bank debt.

Why Mobile Operators Need to Think About Strategic Experience Design

Posted: April 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , | Comments Off on Why Mobile Operators Need to Think About Strategic Experience Design

Steve Jobs was famous for his obsession with design. He believed that to make a brilliant product, one needs to control the design of all aspects of the product and not rely on third parties if that means losing control over design.

This obsession led to many Apple products that stand out as being superior in terms of the full customer experience, which in turn helped the company grow and build a loyal customer base.

Most operators’ strategy includes the term Customer Experience in one way or another. Even so, are operators really focused on this throughout all steps of their product development process? Are they thinking strategically about Experience Design?

Comptel recently introduced the term Strategic Experience Design, explaining how this focuses on mapping journeys that customers will take with a product or service.

For example, let’s look at a mature market operator serving customers on tariff plans with data volume caps. Our operator offers a streaming music service accessed through operator-specific apps. The music service is very popular among customers and the operator has put a lot of effort into the app design to provide a good customer experience, aligning layout and functionality with other apps and websites from a set of Experience Design guidelines.

As data traffic increases in the mobile network, more and more customers reach their monthly data volume cap and need to decide whether to top-up or upgrade to a bigger plan.

What the operator might not realise though is that 90 percent of customers who reach their monthly volume cap do so while listening to music on the operator’s music streaming service. And reaching the cap results in a negative customer experience because the music pauses without any message explaining why.

To get this insight, the operator would have to combine data from several systems that are usually not combined – or get feedback from a large number of customers.

Using this insight, the operator could improve the music streaming app to be aware of the data capping and include options for customers to decide how the app should behave when they reach their data cap during music streaming. The additions to the app design could be a real-time data volume counter in the app and settings to allow automatic top-up if the customer’s cap is reached during streaming. In addition, the network could allow music streaming beyond a customer’s cap until the end of the next track or playlist.

Incorporating these levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network is an example of Strategic Experience Design. The operator leverages all data sources to gain insights and allow apps to interact with them in real time to offer the best possible customer experience. Our operator’s current approach has resulted in a very good app, but the customer experience is hampered by the fact that not every journey has been mapped out.

By thinking about Strategic Experience Design, the operator gains a competitive advantage over third-party music streaming apps, which can’t offer the levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network. This would act as a retention driver leading to improved loyalty and also as an acquisition driver leading to customer base growth (once the competitive advantage is understood outside the operator’s current customer base).

This is very much like what Steve Jobs did at Apple.

He applied an almost obsessive hands-on approach throughout all steps of a product design to ensure brilliant products – often rejecting ideas of development engineers on subjective design grounds. And although Steve Jobs didn’t have a term for his obsession and occasionally had an unstructured approach, he successfully used Strategic Experience Design as a true differentiator.

This is a guest post from Allan Greve, a co-owner of tefficient.

Tefficient is an international efficiency specialist providing telecom operators and -suppliers withanalysis, benchmarks, consulting and coaching.