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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July 4, 2016

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

NTT: spectrum call this year for 5G in 2020; Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE 5G news; 3GPP sets 2018 target

Lots of 5G news this week, thanks to the conjuncture of 5G World and MWC Shanghai. NTT DoCoMo’s head of 5G, Takehiro Nakamura, says we need the spectrum position signing off this year for their planned launch in 2020. As usual, the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands are in the frame, and NTT has been testing beam-steering in the 28 recently. He reckons it will take ten years to fully “optimise” 5G, but major trials at NTT will start next year and a lot of the moving parts seem to be ready.

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June 30, 2016

Brexit: Telecoms Strategy Implications - #1 Prioritise Transformation

The UK’s vote to leave the European Union came as a shock to many, and has complex ongoing consequences. We summarise briefly what happened, possible scenarios, and give our initial view on the implications for telcos, their business partners and the innovation ecosystem.

Read our analysis here.

This report is part of our Executive Briefing Service.

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

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June 21, 2016

Oi! Telco 2.0 News Review

Oi! Where’s my money? Gone; Arora quits Softbank; Free says goodbye to Orange

Time was when Brazilian consolidation was a hot story in telecoms. Now, on the boom has come the crash, and no-one’s talking about how to get their paws on TIM Brasil any more. Instead, Oi has gone bankrupt, owing some $19bn to various creditors. It’s the biggest bankruptcy in Brazilian history and the first major telco to go bust since the days of Global Crossing, 360Networks and friends.

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June 16, 2016

Google/Telcos’ RCS: Dark Horse or Dead Horse?

Can leading telcos and Google build a strong enough messaging proposition to take on Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp et al? Our latest report, “Google/Telcos’ RCS: Dark Horse or Dead Horse?” investigates.

Mobile messaging is fast becoming a key platform for digital commerce, mounting a challenge to Google Search, Amazon’s Marketplace and other two-sided platforms. As Facebook gears up to take advantage of this opportunity, some of the world’s largest telcos are working with Google to develop and deploy multimedia communications services that will work across networks and will replace SMS. But will it be too little, too late?

This report is part of our Dealing with Disruption stream and you can read an extract here.

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

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June 14, 2016

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn: The Value of a Huge Directory

So Microsoft has acquired LinkedIn, for a $26bn cash consideration. Leaving aside the possibility Satya Nadella thinks he’s finally found a way to stop them sending him so much e-mail, what is Microsoft thinking?

The bear case is pretty clear. LinkedIn lost $166m for 2015, and Microsoft paid a premium of nearly 50% over Friday’s closing price. The losses are getting worse, too - in Q1 2015, the company lost $17m at the operating level, which had risen to $66m in Q1 2016, putting them dangerously close to beating 2015’s loss in the first half of 2016. Meanwhile, Microsoft shares fell 2.6% on the news. Depending on whether you like total users or monthly-active users (MAUs), Microsoft paid somewhere between $60 a user and $250 a user. The deal values LinkedIn at 7 per cent of Microsoft’s market capitalisation, as much as Sky TV. Really… is it worth that much?

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June 13, 2016

Valley Special: Telco 2.0 News Review

WWDC: Intel modems in iPhone, ads in the App store; Google Fiber Wireless? MS LinkedIn; RIP Tom Perkins

It’s Apple WWDC week. First up, there’s a huge story in the semiconductor business - some variants of the next lot of iPhones will be getting their LTE modems from Intel, not Qualcomm. After years and years of trying, Intel finally has a major mobile deal and it’s the biggest it could possibly be. Also, it’s another punch in the guts for Qualcomm, especially as modems and other RF components are meant to be one of its biggest growth segments over the next five years, on a par with its push on the data centre.

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June 9, 2016

US Wireless Market: Early Warning Signs of Change

We’ve published “US Wireless Market: Early Warning Signs of Change”.

We see early-warning signs of new changes afoot in the influential US mobile market in both growth and competitive market dynamics. Verizon Wireless was the biggest winner from the market’s recent growth. But now things are slowing and challenger T-Mobile is breaking into the premium segment. What are the lessons?

This report is part of the Teclo 2.0 Executive Briefing Service and you can read an extract here.

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

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June 6, 2016

Apple vs Amazon in TV, Softbank, Smartphone Volumes, Euro M&A: Telco 2.0 News Review

Apple vs Amazon Prime; Apple, 3rd STB maker; TiVo Q2; Ad bubble; exit Facebook Notify

Why won’t Apple let you watch Amazon Prime video on your Apple TV? Why won’t Amazon sell you an Apple TV? Well, it’s because Apple wants its full 30 per cent App Store commission on any Amazon sales on their platform, and Jeff Bezos won’t have it. This is important, as the Apple TV is creeping up on the market - Apple is now the third set-top vendor after Arris and Technicolor, selling about 10 million boxes a year.

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May 31, 2016

5G, Verizon, 700MHz, HPE, Microsoft, Spotify: Telco 2.0 News Review

5G: Verizon fixed-wireless plans, Samsung Research, plus Nokia, Bouygues, SFR, DTAG, Intel news

Here’s an interesting panel on 5G - Verizon director of corporate technology, Gerry Flynn, is very clear that they are thinking primarily in terms of fixed wireless in the 28GHz band when they say 5G and they mean to shoot for very high data rates. AT&T’s director of advanced radio technologies, Arun Ghosh, makes the interesting point that the technology barrier for millimetre-wave spectrum is getting from a dish antenna to something you can fit in a phone. Obviously this is less of a problem if the form-factor is “something on the roof”.

If this Samsung European R&D presentation is anything to go by, they’re making progress on the problem. Also, 5G and 802.11ax WiFi have a lot in common, and the real gains from beamforming kick in once you start doing it in 3D.

CEO Lowell McAdam fills in some more detail. He says the carrier has tested up to 1.8Gbps, that he expects the roll-out to justify the CAPEX bill based purely on fixed-wireless, and that VZ will use it to expand its gigabit services beyond the FiOS footprint. That’s pretty big; the current rush to get more FTTH or DOCSIS 3.1 out there just got a new participant.

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

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