August 30, 2016

Apple, Regs, 5G, FTTH, Content, Cloud: Telco 2.0 News Review

Apple’s €13bn tax bill; HomeKit as standard; “$1m Dissident” iPhone defies UAE; China ASPs; iRules

The EU inquiry into Apple’s tax affairs is in, and it’s pretty stern news for Apple; the EU wants it to repay €13bn in back tax.

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August 25, 2016

Seven Tough CEO Questions - Telco 2.0 Update

We’ve published a new research paper: Seven Tough CEO Questions - Telco 2.0 Update. We’ve identified seven questions that are fundamental to telcos’ forward success, and compiled some of our recent research that helps address them.

This report is part of the Executive Briefing Service and you can read an excerpt of the report here.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003

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August 22, 2016

Cisco, AT&T, DTAG, 5G, Intel, ARM: Telco 2.0 News Review

Cisco pivots to SDN, slashes jobs; AT&T claims big CAPEX savings; OpenFlow controllers, rated! DTAG strategy, Q2s

Cisco is urgently shifting its focus from big-iron routers to virtualised networking. This is a historic decision for the company more associated than any other with the very concept of an Internet router. According to CEO Chuck Robbins, this is because major customers are demanding it, notably AT&T. This comes after a mixed Q2 - overall revenue was up 2%, not least because of a strong performance from security products, but this masked a multitude of sins, as NGN routers were down 6% due to much lower spending from service providers. As a result, the company is laying off 5,500 employees, 7% of the workforce.

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August 18, 2016

The STL Partners Digital Investment Database: August 2016 Update

STL Partners published the inaugural version of our Digital Investment Database in early July, and we’ve now issued our first update, including a brief overview of Softbank’s acquisition of ARM and Verizon’s purchases of Yahoo! and Fleetmatics.

You can take a look here.

The database can be downloaded in full by members of our Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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August 11, 2016

Innovation Leaders: A Surprisingly Successful Telco API Programme

In our latest report, we explore how Dialog Axiata in Sri Lanka has developed a fast growing API platform that engages developers significantly more than plays by big telcos like AT&T, Orange and Vodafone relative to its scale. How has it achieved this and driven monetisation, innovation and efficiency within the company? And what is next?

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Executive Briefing Service and Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

Dialog Axiata has steadily increased the number of API calls (indexed)

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August 8, 2016

Comcast, IBM, AWS, Google, MTN: Telco 2.0 News Review

Comcast 1Gbps “coast to coast”; Centurylink, Frontier respond; Liberty Global, BT, KDDI, KT Q2s

Comcast’s CTO says they’re going to have gigabit cable “coast to coast” in the next 12 months, while their set-top box vendors are saying they expect a big ramp-up of sales early next year. Meanwhile, WOW, Cox, and Mediacom are hinting at something similar. DSL operators have little choice but to respond by building out something comparable.

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August 5, 2016

How effective is your omni-channel strategy?

Participate in the telco digital engagement benchmarking study here.

In a climate of Black Friday shopping, online exclusives and digital retail giants like Amazon and Asos flourishing, the need for telcos to compete in the online world has never been clearer. Customers are engaging with telcos through digital channels more and more, as social media and search engines overtake print and television as the most effective way of reaching customers. In a 2015 ‘point of view’ report Deloitte stated that 45% of smartphones owners were making purchases using a mobile device every month, and in addition complaints and queries are increasingly being made online rather than in person or via the phone. This shift in the market highlights how important customers’ digital engagement and satisfaction is, as more and more customers are assessing companies’ services through their digital brand experiences.

Creating a seamless, intuitive and trusted digital experience should be at the forefront of all telecom business models, such as through innovations in omni-channel strategies. An omni-channel approach, i.e. integrating online and bricks & mortar customer experiences, can help improve the effectiveness of telecoms’ marketing into a more sophisticated ‘single-view’ picture of their customers allows for better targeting of their wants and needs. This will help reduce churn and increase ARPU.

An omni-channel focus will also bring increased conversion rates and reduce cart abandonment through a larger availability of convenient online shopping options and secure payment solutions. This can help improve customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty. Not only will omni-channel solutions increase revenue in these ways and more, it will also save companies money, through, for example, reduced time spent on resolving customer service issues. There should be no need for customers to repeat simple information or be passed around to different areas of the company as a clear and unified picture should be available rather than customer data remaining stuck in specific siloes. The need to develop omni-channel solutions should be clear, and many telco companies are some way to providing this seamless picture to their customers.

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STL Partners has created a Digital Engagement Benchmarking Tool which can assess your operator’s performance in digital maturity, and highlight areas where omni-channel development would be beneficial. A free, customised report will be produced, which tests your company against industry competition and ‘best-in-class’ performers outside telecoms, the metrics covering digital sales & marketing, digital customer experience and omni-channel strategy. The report will be sent to you by the end of August; all responses will need to be completed by 12th August. If this is something you would be interested in, complete our 5-10 minute survey now. All information submitted will be treated as strictly confidential and your operator (or its data) will not be identified in any reports to send other participants in this study, or other third parties. 

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August 4, 2016

Telco NFV & SDN Deployment Strategies: Six Emerging Segments

In our latest report, we explore in detail how thirteen leading operators are addressing NFV and SDN. By exploring each management team’s vision for the technology and the current implementation activities, we have been able to identify six segments - from dynamic ‘NFV Business Model Transformation Pioneers’ to more prosaic ‘Utilitarian Adopters’. The report also outlines three major ‘best-practice’ recommendations for other players.

Read the analysis here.

This report is part of our Telco 2.0 Transformation and Future of the Network Streams.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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August 1, 2016

Q2 Special: Telco 2.0 News Review

Softbank x ARM; Apple, Samsung, and Huawei Q2s; Q2 shipments

Softbank astonished the world last week by buying ARM Holdings, the British chip designers behind 95% of the world’s mobile devices, for $32bn in raw cash. That’s “offer you can’t refuse” territory, especially as ARM is typical of successful tech companies in that its employees own a lot of the company’s shares, and the deal instantly makes millionaires of quite a few of them.

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July 21, 2016

Net Neutrality 2021: IoT, NFV and 5G ready?

We’ve just published “Net Neutrality 2021: IoT, NFV and 5G ready?

This report explores how Net Neutrality legislation has evolved significantly, looking at the general shape and specifics in the EU, US, India, Brazil and other territories. In general telcos can differentiate some aspects of broadband access with pricing or “specialized services”, but Internet app-blocking or paid-priority are disallowed. While legal challenges are ongoing, the way ahead seems much clearer, and we explore how telcos should focus on and enable interesting non-Internet connectivity opportunities around 5G, NFV and IoT.

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Telco 2.0 Future of the Network Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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July 19, 2016

Telco Digital Customer Engagement Benchmark

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Customers are more educated, more empowered and have more options available to them than ever before. They are also engaging with companies through more channels than previously, as social media and search engines overtake print and television as the most effective way of reaching out to customers. In a 2015 ‘point of view’ report Deloitte stated that 45% of smartphones owners were making purchases using a mobile device every month, and in addition complaints and queries are increasingly being made online rather than in person or via the phone. This shift in the market highlights how important customers’ digital engagement and satisfaction is, as more and more customers are assessing companies’ services through their digital brand experiences.

Creating a seamless, intuitive and trusted digital experience should be at the forefront of all telecom business models, such as through innovations in omni-channel strategies. An omni-channel approach, i.e. integrating online and bricks and mortar customer experiences, can help improve the effectiveness of telecoms’ marketing as a more sophisticated ‘single-view’ picture of their customers allows for better targeting of their wants and needs. This will help reduce churn and increase ARPU.

An omni-channel focus will also bring increased conversion rates and reduce cart abandonment through a larger availability of convenient online shopping options and secure payment solutions. This can help improve customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty. Not only will omni-channel solutions increase revenue in these ways and more, it will also save companies money, through, for example, reduced time spent on resolving customer service issues. There should be no need for customers to repeat simple information or be passed around to different areas of the company as a clear and unified picture should be available rather than customer data remaining stuck in specific siloes. The need to develop omni-channel solutions should be clear, and many telco companies are some way to providing this seamless picture to their customers.

STL Partners has created a Digital Engagement Benchmarking Tool which can assess your operator’s performance in digital maturity, and highlight areas where omni-channel development would be beneficial. A free, bespoke report will be created which benchmarks your company against industry competition and ‘best-in-class’ performers outside telecoms, the metrics covering digital sales and marketing, digital customer experience and omni-channel strategy. The report will be sent to you by the end of August. If this is something you would be interested in, complete our 5-10 minute survey now. All information submitted will be treated as strictly confidential and your operator (or its data) will not be identified in any reports to send other participants in this study, or other third parties. 

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July 15, 2016

Cloud 2020: Telcos’ Role, Scenarios and Forecast

Although the shape of the cloud industry turned out better than expected, most telco strategies in the cloud haven’t delivered. Our latest article investigates why, what has led to success, and what telcos need to learn to do differently. 

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Enterprise Cloud & ICT Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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July 11, 2016

The broken Kafkaesque world of BT.

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This is a personal post by Chris Barraclough based on recent interactions with BT.

I worry for BT, I really do.

I am usually sceptical of tales of woe about a company that you hear at dinner party tables. A single data-point is never going to reflect a company’s performance - especially if the story is recounted over an alcohol-fuelled meal where there is a strong danger of ‘embellishment’. However, recently I have had so many conversations with staff at all levels of BT - strategy, customer service, orders, faults, executive complaints - that I feel I have a reasonable understanding of the processes and culture at BT. And pretty it ain’t.

I have not been a BT customer for around a decade. However, having sold my house and moved into a rental property in Cambridgeshire, I decided it was easiest to use BT as the previous tenant had done so. They had deactivated the phone line and stopped broadband and reactivating everything should be a simple. How wrong I was.

1. I placed the order relatively easy and received a text in around 24 hours saying the phone line was live. However, I had no dial tone - just a crackling line as if it was open but no calls could be made.

2. I spent over 2 hours on the phone to customer services, then orders, then faults trying to get this resolved. Nobody could answer my question about what was preventing me from getting a dial tone. When transferring my calls between departments, 3 times they were dropped internally and I had to go back to square 1 and wait in the queue. Things are not helped in that BT has customer-facing operations in the UK, India and the Philippines and calls are routed between them.
        a. On one occasion, the customer service rep said that they could not actually get a line to transfer the call. It seems astonishing that a major international telecommunications provider cannot guarantee lines between its various call centres.
        b. Every single time a call was transferred to a new person, I had to wait for 10-20 minutes and then go through the same process of giving my name, address, postcode, etc. Again, it seems extraordinary that a major telecommunications and IT player cannot manage the transfer of customer details with a call.

3. Finally, the phone line just started working - I had a dial tone!

4. I then spent 1.5 hours trying to set up broadband and BT TV and was finally told that I couldn’t have BT TV as BT couldn’t give me enough bandwidth. However, I was told I could get BT Sport via an app at £5/month or via Sky at £6/month. It was a delicious irony that I had to pay a premium because BT couldn’t provide the normal TV service owing to their own broadband limitations.

5. I plumped to receive BT via Sky, so off I went to Sky to set up the TV Service. It took 15 mins to sort it out. In the end, I said I might as well get them to do the phone and broadband as they were (a) more efficient and (b) much cheaper than BT.

6. I phoned BT to cancel my orders. The customer service rep said that since I had been such a loyal customer he would drop my phone and broadband charges from £40 to £30. This despite the fact that I had had the phone working for a few hours and the broadband order had only been placed 2 hours before! Why not just offer a fair price in the first place? Just reading a script I suppose…

7. I then received an email from the head of customer care at BT (a ‘no reply’ one so I couldn’t get back to her) saying I would be charged £157 for Sky to take over the phone line as the take-over date was outside my ‘cooling off period’. I called customer service and told them this was not fair. They should allow me to pass to Sky for free as I had had so many problems with BT. They refused and said I would have to cancel the line and then ask Sky to set a new one up. Crazy since both BT and Sky have to use the BT company Openreach to supply lines anyway. So I asked customer services to cancel the line. They said they couldn’t because Sky already had a request in! They said I had to get Sky to drop their transfer request, then come back to BT to cancel my line, then go back to Sky to order a new one.
        a.I escalated this up to Gavin Patterson, the Group CEO at BT to see whether they would move on it. In fairness, he responded very quickly and passed it to the executive complaints team….
        b. …who repeated what the customer services rep said - I had to cancel my order with Sky, cancel my line with BT, and re-order with Sky. Sigh.

8. So, to the bemusement of Sky, I followed the strange convoluted process outlined by BT. “Er, why don’t they just leave our line take-over request in place and allow you to keep using the line up until we take it over and then swallow the £157 charge?” the customer services rep at Sky asked. It was a good question. I couldn’t answer it. Nobody at BT seemed to be able to answer it either. But follow the broken BT process we did and I hope that Sky will provide me with a phone line and broadband in the next 3 days. Sky are not perfect - the company’s cancellation process, which requires the user to call them to cancel rather than email or write, is a disgrace - but they have been a joy on this by comparison to BT.

I know that things go wrong at companies - I run a small research and consulting firm alongside two colleagues and we, and the firm, makes mistakes. What is so disappointing at BT is that so many basic systems and processes are broken. And, worse than this, I get no sense of anyone trying to help the customer (beyond one Irish man who wanted to resolve the line fault). Nobody I spoke to was able to make a decision. Nobody wanted to really understand or help me at any stage. Too often I was made to feel that I was ‘being difficult’. Was I angry and sarcastic at times? Yes, guilty. But I had spent hours and hours trying to resolve things and been frustrated at every turn. But for BT staff to get resentful and terse with me - as happened more than once - gives me little sense that the customer comes first. BT has to learn to listen and learn.

Which leads me finally to my call with a senior strategy executive at BT. This occurred separately to anything above and was on a ‘professional basis’. He had been invited by some colleagues to join a call where STL Partners was outlining a vision of growth for the industry and BT and how new processes and technology could enable this. He described our thinking as showing ‘cognitive dissonance’ and ‘religious fervour’ and lacking ‘evidence’. When we cited several examples of operators pursuing similar thinking and strategies and outlined examples of success, these were dismissed as not being relevant. In essence, each example was deemed unrepresentative of BT. In other words, he framed things only in BT’s current situation - there was a sense that nothing could be learned from anything outside BT’s own frame of reference. There was nothing he or BT could learn. He didn’t listen. This worries me most. Strategy guys should be the most outward-looking and ambitious parts of the organisation. Sure, they must be rationale and evidence-based but they should seek to apply thinking from outside their organisation - they must listen, learn and apply lessons within their organisations. That is the essence of Telco 2.0. To not do so is surely the ultimate sign of cognitive dissonance and suggests an inability to learn and grow - something borne out by my experiences in ordering services from BT. So I say again…

…I worry for BT, I really do.

UPDATE.

Despite assurances that I had now cancelled all services within the 10-day cooling off period and would therefore incur no penalties from BT, I today received the text below with a warning that a £157 charge was on its way. So back to the executive complaints team I go. More time wasted. Thanks BT.

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5G, APAC, Europe, the Cloud: Telco 2.0 News Review

5G against net neutrality; EU, FCC moves on spectrum; NGMN action; Verizon specs

A team of European operators, plus some vendors and vertical industry players, has submitted a “5G manifesto” to the European Commission. They’re after some money to support large-scale demo projects and standardisation (not that much - a total of €1.5bn), plus they want harmonised spectrum licencing of the 700MHz, 3.4 to 3.8GHz, and 24GHz-plus by 2020. Their timeline expectations are focused on 2020, by which time they want to have at least one EU city covered. In the meantime, they’re promising a wave of trials focused on vertical use cases, on a pan-European basis, that will begin once 3GPP R14 arrives in 2018.

2018, you say?

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July 7, 2016

Digital M&A and Investment Strategies

M&A and majority investment are key tools in building digital businesses. But are telcos actively investing? In our latest report we look in detail at SingTel, Telstra and Verizon, which have committed significantly to digital investment to extend their businesses. We also discuss why most European operators lag their Asia-Pac and North American peers. Our analysis is based on the newly-developed STL Partners Digital Investment Database, which tracks investments by 22 leading service providers.

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

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Telco 2.0 Strategy Report Out Now: Telco Strategy in the Cloud

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