Around the World

Posted: September 3rd, 2010 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Light Reading…
Telecom Market Spotlight: Asia
From a point about midway in 2010, Light Reading’s Market Spotlight looks both backwards and forwards at the Asia region. It updates the third-quarter estimates for the 2009 figures used in the previous Telecom Market Spotlight: Asia with now historic figures for 2009, and it includes estimates / forecasts for 2010. Focusing on the Asian market, the report touches on the following topics:

It contains a lot of interesting information and compelling statistics about the region. What is particularly fascinating to us is the special focus on ‘What happened to WiMax’. In Asia, there has been a trend among operators shifting from WiMax and moving towards a LTE environment. Light Reading surveyed the scene a couple of years ago, and it seemed that WiMax was the sure leader, but not so much anymore. The result is partly due to the much wider deployment of established 3G technologies (particularly HSPA and now the enhanced HSPA+) and the resulting smartphone boom, and partly of the rapid acceptance of 4G LTE mobile as the preferred evolution to next-generation technology by most of the mobile industry. Another problem for WiMax the report references is that WiMax operators are increasingly open to switching to LTE when doing so is necessary and economical—check out LTE Watch: Yota Drops WiMax for LTE.

Connected Planet…
Q&A: Verizon On Why QoS and Policy Matter
BSS/OSS reporter, Susana Schwartz recently caught up with Naseem Khan, principal member of technical staff at Verizon Labs, to get his company’s take on policy management. Given the conversation, it seems that quality of service (QoS) is top priority for Verizon, as they believe it will give them the competitive edge in the industry. Khan states that QoS will be a key differentiator in the industry and if there can be standardization of policy management around QoS, [Verizon] thinks it will help with managing multiple services and applications on the network — IPTV, data and voice — not to mention all the different access technologies. When asked about hindrances he sees ahead, he believes that time to market could be expedited if vendor platforms interwork through common standards—standardization is just the first phase, and then implementation by vendors is next. Recognizing this, Comptel designed a portfolio of OSS solutions—Comptel Dynamic OSS—to help CSPs realize their growth ambitions, and achieve their service creation and delivery objectives.

Policy management certainly seems to be on the minds of North American operators, as Susana spoke on this topic earlier with Farooq Bari, lead member of AT&T’s technical staff.

TM Forum Online Community…
CSP Gives Itself ‘Bill Shock’
A TM Forum online community member shares that Australian CSP, Telstra, incurred as much as AU $90 million in bad debts in its past financial year, caused largely by customers that disputed and didn’t pay expensive bills. Telstra’s chief financial officer, John Stanhope describes the situation as “…a customer might be described a plan, but when they get their first bill it’s hard to understand or doesn’t match the plan they thought they were going to get as described by someone at the front of house. Then a dispute occurs with the bill”. Apart of Telstra’s ‘simplification strategy’ is to make sure that customers understand the plan they have and how it will look on their bill. Wouldn’t a simpler plan involve a customer defining its usage limits? For example, take Finnish CSP DNA Ltd—it deployed Comptel Roaming Cost Control, which allows subscribers to monitor their balances in real time, and notify them of any necessary actions, such as a notification or suspension of the services when a specified cut-off limit is reached—avoid any unnecessary ‘bill shock’.

Lessons in Dynamic SIM Management from Kimi Räikkönen

Posted: August 23rd, 2010 | Author: Leila Heijola | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

In Finland, as part of our school traditions, every first grader gets his or her first mobile phone at the age of seven. That is when our award-winning school system begins to educate our offspring in order to meet OECD and Pisa test requirements—one factor contributing to Finland recently being named the world’s best country by Newsweek. The battle for these new mobile subscriptions is harsh, with communications service providers offering a wide range of options to parents and their kids.

This July, I received a surprising package from Kimi Räikkönen—that was exactly how it was marketed to my target group and how my daughter told it to everyone she met during the following weeks. Finnish mobile operator DNA Finland sent a prepaid SIM card to every Finnish mom (including me) who had a child that was born in 2003 and entering the first grade.

As a marketer, I had to admit that this campaign was extremely clever! A photo of the coolest guy in the universe covered a bright pink package containing not only the pre-paid SIM card but also a Kimi poster, a set of removable tattoos and a reflector—all of the things that first graders simply adore. For moms, DNA included a nice letter explaining how mobile phones are important for protecting kids and giving peace of mind to worrying parents. (In Finland, most of the kids walk or cycle to school and back on their own or with schoolmates or older siblings, and return home hours before their parents.)

After I had recovered from the amazement of Kimi sending me a package, I started to think about the pros and cons of DNA’s offer. First, I have never been a fan of pre-paid subscriptions, even if this one had feature that allowed kids to call two selected numbers, even if they run out of balance. Secondly, I was wondering what the pre-selected number was. Could I change it if I did not like the number? And what about the services? Could I modify the subscription? This might be a good option for a first grader but not so great for an older child a couple of years down the road.

These thoughts brought me back to the same issues I had tackled few months earlier when Comptel was planning the Comptel Dynamic SIM Management launch. And now I needed one–a SIM card management solution.

A month later, Kimi Räikkönen’s charisma faded. One Sunday morning, my daughter said, “Mom, let’s go to the Elisa shop and buy a phone for me!” And that is what we did. Along with a pink Nokia 7020, we purchased a Saunalahti subscription, I selected a phone number that included her date of birth and excluded a couple of unnecessary services.

The Mobile Phone Bill Is What?!

Posted: May 28th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Last summer, I went gold prospecting in Finland’s Lemmenjoki National Park, which is about 250 km (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. This was at the height of the economic crisis, and desperate times called for desperate measures!

There is a serious telecom point to my story—while taking a break from panning, I checked my phone and found that it was connected to a Norwegian mobile network, even though Norway was some 65 km (40 miles) away! In other words, I was standing in one European country and roaming in another!

Unintentional roaming is not an unusual experience in Europe, but it also occurs elsewhere. For example, it happens frequently in Niagara Falls, which sits on the U.S. and Canadian border.

This brings me neatly to the subject of roaming cost control. Whether roaming intentionally or not, using one’s mobile phone abroad is far more costly than when using it at home. We’ve all heard the horror stories (admittedly some probably apocryphal). My own favourite is the one about the French café owner living on the Belgian border; he was hit by a €46,000 (U.S. $ 57,000) mobile Internet bill after unintentionally roaming into the neighbouring country. (An alternative, less credible but often quoted version of that story involves a German woman who downloaded an episode of Lost while in France.)

Now, however, regulators are stepping into the debate. Most notably, the European Union (EU) will, in just a few short weeks (1 July), enforce a new regulation on communications service providers (CSPs) in order to prevent ‘bill shock’. The legislation dictates lower costs for data services while roaming, and that subscribers are adequately informed of the charges.

One example of an operator preparing for this change—Finnish CSP DNA Ltd has deployed Comptel Roaming Cost Control, which allows subscribers to monitor their balances in real time, and notify them of any necessary actions, such as a notification or suspension of the services when a specified cut-off limit is reached.

The new regulation isn’t only affecting European CSPs.  After conducting a recent survey and finding that one in six mobile users have experienced ‘bill shock’ in service plans, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting pressure on U.S. operators and now considering legislation similar to that of the EU. Australian and New Zealand regulators are also looking into to tackling mobile roaming ‘bill shock’.

Excessive roaming bills have caused negative attention and bad publicity—and ultimately put customers off from using services that many operators are betting their futures on. Roaming cost control allows CSPs to not only comply with legislative demands, but also keep their customers satisfied and encourage data usage. As DNA points out, it is also an opportunity for CSPs to deploy real-time policy management and charging solutions that will help differentiate them from competitors by offering personalized services and price plans. This is critical for CSPs looking to fully monetize on mobile broadband services.

For the record, I did not find any gold. But thankfully, I was not hit by a big mobile phone bill either.