Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum: Evaluating Project Fi and Google’s Giant Plans for Wireless

Posted: June 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum: Evaluating Project Fi and Google’s Giant Plans for Wireless

In a video explaining the ideology behind its new wireless cellular service, Google describes Project Fi as an innovation in connectivity and communication. It’s an interesting experiment to be sure, but just how big of an impact can we expect Project Fi to have on telecommunications?

Google Project Fi

Google made headlines in the spring when it announced it was dipping its toes into the wireless waters with Project Fi, which will rely primarily on free Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide, supported by the Sprint and T-Mobile 4G cellular networks, to establish a continuous network. Project Fi is now back in the news due to reports of high initial demand. Google wrote in an email to hopeful subscribers that it will take until mid-summer for all of those who requested invites to receive full service access, adding that initial feedback has been “very positive.”

The service has earned hype for both its innovative use of technology – with Project Fi, your phone will automatically detect and switch to the best quality connection for your location, whether that’s 4G or Wi-Fi – as well its disruptive service terms. Project Fi is available without a contract, offers unlimited text and talk for $20 per month, plus $10 per GB of data, and includes a credit function that refunds subscribers the cost of any unused data at the end of the month. It’s interesting to note that much of the excitement of this announcement is around data and not voice services, which may underscore the idea that we’ve moved well past voice being the leading draw of cellular services.

There are a few reasons consumers are hopeful that Project Fi will turn the wireless industry on its head – the biggest one, of course, being Google’s reputation as an influential digital disruptor. Additionally, the announcement could not have been better timed, as many consumers are frustrated with the restrictive service offerings they receive from their current wireless operators and are eager for a more flexible and affordable alternative to knock the big players from their pedestals.

At the same time, evidence suggests that Google isn’t interested in a market takeover. The tech giant is known to experiment in the field of connectivity – see its Project Loon initiative and Titan acquisition, which rely on high-altitude balloons and lightweight solar-powered drones, respectfully, to expand LTE availability worldwide.

Additionally, in comments at this year’s Mobile World Congress, product head Sundar Pichai clarified that Google intends to help carriers push the boundaries of wireless, but not necessarily stand alone as a competitive operator at scale.

“Our goal is to drive a set of innovations we think should arrive, but do it a smaller scale, like Nexus devices, so people will see what we’re doing,” Pichai said.

So what can we realistically expect from Project Fi? The initiative represents a starting point in Google’s wireless experimentation. It would seem that the primary goal is to experiment with Wi-Fi-first networks. Could we soon see enough dispersion of Wi-Fi hotspots to make it possible for Google to run an entirely Wi-Fi powered phone service, free from reliance on cell network support and entirely independent to traditional mobile operators? The U.S. is certainly a great testing ground in that respect, as many other countries lack the Wi-Fi density needed to support Google’s experimentation.

Is it possible, too, that Project Fi might help Google prepare for the coming 5G revolution. Many in telecommunications believe that, in order to deliver dramatically more speed and capacity, 5G must be heterogeneous wireless networks built on unlicensed spectrums. Could Project Fi be Google’s attempt to learn what such a network might look like?

Though not completely unique – other operators offer Wi-Fi-first service supported by cellular networks – Google’s signal switching technology and data refunds differentiate the service enough to stand out. At the same time, the project’s early limitations – it’s exclusivity to the Nexus phone and the U.S. – suggests it won’t fully disrupt the mobile industry quite yet.

Instead, Project Fi offers a small platform for Google to experiment, adapt and learn from the technology and consumer behaviours. From there, the company will be able to evaluate whether early results are positive enough to proceed with some sort of larger-scale offering, or if it should leave mobile service to the mobile operators. Either way, Google’s innovative spirit and out-of-the-box approach offers a model for digital and communications services providers to adopt, and the initial excitement around Project Fi underscores Generation Cloud’s hunger for a real mobile revolution.

Download our book, Operation Nexterday, to learn the strategies and solutions that help mobile operators innovate their service offerings and intrigue Generation Cloud consumers.


TM Forum Live! 2015 Recap: 3 Key Takeaways on Telco Digital Transformation

Posted: June 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Comptel was in Nice, France for TM Forum Live!, where the discussion surrounded the innovative technology, emerging consumer trends and unique businesses challenges that face the digital and communications industry now and in the coming years.TM_Forum Live 2015

The event’s overarching theme involved making the concept of a “digital business” real. We enjoyed the opportunity to hear thoughts and ideas from some of the leading voices not only in telecoms, but also in the greater technology community. We also took advantage of the chance to lend our unique viewpoint on the significant revenue opportunity available to operators who embrace innovative sales, service and marketing strategies through their own Operation Nexterday.

Here are three big takeaways we observed from the event’s keynotes and summit sessions:

1. Digital Transformations Require Radical New Views and Approaches

TM Forum’s new CEO, Peter Sany, led off the keynote schedule with a discussion on the significant ways in which digital technology is transforming our world. He explained that we’re living in a time of major change and opportunity, which is evident by the development of today’s sharing economy, the ongoing innovation of connected devices and the democratisation of technology accessibility.

To manage these transformations and make the most of the opportunities they provide, Sany says operators need to shift their perspective to place the customer front and centre. He also advocates the forming of non-traditional partnerships in telco to enable faster, dynamic innovations.

Sany’s thoughts mirror the views we shared in our book, Operation Nexterday. As we explained, consumers today require instant gratification, maximum flexibility and a high level of personalisation. Operators must embrace a new way of selling, marketing and offering their services, so customers’ needs are put first. That may require unusual partnerships with companies they may now currently view as competitors like over-the-top (OTT) providers – more on that shortly.

TM Forum 2015

2. Infrastructure, Affordability – Two Key Barriers to Digital Expansion

While there are 7.2 billion people on Earth, only 3 billion are connected to the Internet, and connecting those remaining 4.2 billion is a slower process than some might expect. Markku Mäkeläinen knows this – he is the director of global operator partnerships for Facebook, and he is one of the leading minds working on making those connections.

The chief barriers to connectivity that Mäkeläinen has noticed throughout Facebook’s Internet.org project are infrastructure, relevance and affordability. Facebook is trying to solve the relevance challenge by providing free Internet access to users in developing countries, so that those individuals who aren’t aware of the Internet might understand its value in supplying free news and education.

At the same time, operators share the burden of solving the other two challenges – infrastructure and affordability. Much of the developing world only has access to 2G connections, and a significant portion of these regions won’t support the construction of towers or radios. Meanwhile, 500 MB of data is affordable only to 34 percent of users in this part of the world. Facebook is working with operators to sort out these challenges with concepts like a lightweight version of Facebook that consumes fewer resources than the full version, and the operators involved will need to deliver innovative and creative ideas.

3. To Stay Relevant, Telcos Must Collaborate with OTTs

Recently, it’s been a popular observation that we live in a world in which the largest accommodations provider, AirBnB, owns no real estate, the largest taxi service, Uber, owns no cars, and the largest retailer, Alibaba, owns no inventory.

Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO of Bharti Airtel, India’s leading provider of pre- and post-paid wireless and fixed digital communications services, brought up this point as an example of the threat facing operators. Although most innovations in telecoms rely entirely on the infrastructure built and owned by operators, they are not the ones coming up with these ideas, proving that there’s no guarantee that the player who owns the platform has the power.

OTT providers have swooped in to provide new services that speak directly to consumers’ changing behaviours and desires. As many operators stand on the fringes and watch, their own assets are being leveraged to support innovative digital services. Rather than remain on the sidelines, Mehta encourages operators to engage in the business of “enriching lives” and start thinking of ways to partner with OTT providers.

Moharmustaqeem Mohammed, VP of Mass Market Marketing Operations at Telekom Malaysia, shared a similar sentiment in a separate session when he said the true operator struggle of the day is not to identify uniqueness, but rather relevance in a digital ecosystem crafted by consumers. This is also a position we advocate in Operation Nexterday – that to remain relevant in a changing telco landscape, operators must first recognize consumers’ overwhelming influence.

Want to learn more about Operation Nexterday and the telco digital transformation? Contact Comptel Marketing (comptel.marketing@comptel.com) to find out when our Beyond the Event Horizon roadshow is coming to your city


Operators Need a Data Monetisation Superhero. Policy and Charging to the Rescue!

Posted: June 1st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Comptel MonetizerData is revealing new monetisation opportunities to operators, not only because customer data usage is increasing considerably in the era of over-the-top (OTT) content services and complex data and third-party content bundles, but also because data itself offers new insights into service demand. However, many operators lack the ability to quickly create and deliver the variety of service offerings customers want, and are not agile enough to react to customers’ changing behaviours. On top of that, the instant nature of today’s digital world means there is less time to capitalise on the rising demand for data.

How can digital and communications services providers possibly provide more data services in less time? This looks like a job for the Monetizer.

In a recent Comptel webinar, “More to Monetise with Limited Time,” I was joined by Tinakaran Ramdas, senior product manager at Comptel, to discuss these trends and identify the superhero solution to the massive data usage monetisation challenge.

The reality is, it will take a heroic effort for operators to manage an increasingly complex service environment. Today’s evolving consumer demand changes the way operators package and sell data offerings – consider new OTT content bundles, roaming data packages, device-specific data packages or shared “family” data accounts.More to Monetise Less Time To Do It

At the same time, customers are consuming more data during more hours of the day on a wider range of devices (many on several devices at a time), and exposure to new ways of buying means they now desire personalised, in-the-moment offers and a seamless and convenient purchase experience.

These trends offer a great revenue opportunity for digital and communication service providers, but it still takes far too long for many operators to create and tailor the offerings that appeal to Generation Cloud. An irrelevant, mass-marketed offer backed by a slow and cumbersome buying process won’t receive a second look from these digitally native and demanding buyers.

That’s where our superhero – disruptive policy control and charging – can save the day. Policy is moving beyond simply congestion management – it’s now the money-maker of the data world. In fact, policy has become a strategic tool for operators to create and deploy personalised offers faster than ever.

A superhero needs superpowers, and the next generation of policy and charging control offers several. It needs to be:

  • Energetic – Bringing the speed operators need to configure, launch and profit from new services, with the energy that empowers sales and marketing to seize new opportunities
  • Ergonomic – Delivering a modern user experience with appropriate solutions for both the marketing team and the IT department, bolstered by a common language that simplifies management for both technical and non-technical users
  • Shapeshifting – Enabling the adaptability and elasticity operators need to create new services and solutions for emerging technology as its developed

These capabilities empower digital and communications services providers to cut offer creation time from months to minutes. Operators can also quickly adapt not only to current consumer and technology trends, but also those in the future. So where can you find such superpowers?

In the webinar, Tinakaran offers a full look at Comptel’s own superhero policy and charging solution: the Monetizer. He also highlights a handful of interesting customer stories that demonstrate how previous Monetizer implementations enabled faster time to market and creative data services, while laying the groundwork for the new capabilities introduced by our upcoming PCC5 software release. You can visit our website to learn more about the Monetizer and the CPOD interface behind it.

Get the full story on the challenges of monetising more services in less time, and learn how the Monetizer solution enables the speed operators need to leverage new opportunities. Click to replay our free webinar, “More to Monetise With Less Time.”

Presenters:

Tinakaran Ramdas, Senior Product Manager, Comptel

Tinakaran Ramdas, Senior Product Manager, Comptel

Malla Poikela, Head of Marketing, Intelligent Data, Comptel

Malla Poikela, Head of Marketing, Intelligent Data, Comptel