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May 10, 2012

Digital Commerce 2.0: Show me the (Mobile) Money

At our forthcoming Digital Commerce 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, 12-13 June, we will be presenting new research exploring the business case for mobile money services from both a telco’s perspective and a bank’s perspective. We will consider whether the business case is strong enough to justify the roll out of new hardware, as advocates of NFC maintain, or whether mobile money services should primarily be implemented in software. To find out more about our research services, to join the event, or find out how else you can participate, please email us on contact@stlpartners.com.

Background to the research

Mobile money services are gaining momentum across the world. In fact, some experts believe we are on the cusp of a mobile money revolution. At the recent Digital Commerce 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in Silicon Valley (report here for subscribers), Antonio Benjamin, Managing Director, CTO, Global Transaction Services at Citi, forecast that in 2014 there will be $1.13 trillion in global mobile transactions, up from $60 billion in 2010 (see slide below). That represents a head-turning compound annual growth rate of more than 100% per annum.

m-money.png

These bullish forecasts are being fuelled by the proliferation of mobile money transfer services across the developing world, in the wake of the success of M-Pesa in Kenya, and the expanding pipeline of handsets equipped with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, which can be used to enable mobile payments at point of sale.

But how much value will mobile money transactions actually create and for whom? Will consumers be the primary beneficiaries or will the entire mobile money value chain prosper?

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January 11, 2012

Free Mobile: Very Telco 2.0 Indeed

The web is agog about the launch of Free.fr’s mobile network, long awaited. Om Malik interviews CEO Xavier Niel, and it’s quite impressive how much Telco 2.0 comes up.

“Since it is our own set-top box, we can innovate around it,” he says. “In the U.S., they buy their set-top boxes from other providers.” That’s a mistake and lost opportunity, Niel says and proceeds to outline how pivotal these set-top boxes are for his company and its future.

They’re referring to the Freebox Revolution devices Free pushed out last year. We’ve long been arguing the importance of better CPE, and pointing to Free as a case study of how to do it (they engineer them in house, based on open-source software).

l1011414-1.jpg (from here; by)

For example, Free.fr used the set-top box for automatically sharing a portion of one’s broadband connection via Wi-Fi with other Free.fr customers. Over five million set-top boxes means Free.fr has a free Wi-Fi cloud enveloping major cities such as Paris. Even when away from home, you can easily get broadband instead of resorting to an expensive 3G network.

This Free.Fr free Wi-Fi network is going to play a pivotal role in the soon-to-be-launched service, which will be using 42 Mbps HSPA+ technology. The company has built a network of 15,000 macrocells, but those 5 million “nano cells” are going to be the key difference maker, Niel points out.

Free.fr’s newer set-top boxes will have built-in femtocells. On top of that, Free is going to be beefing up its macrocells with high-capacity fiber connections being fed by Iliad’s dark fiber. And when the time comes, he is going to embrace LTE and include that in his network as well. “We will go to wide area network (3G and 2.5G) when we are not in Wi-Fi coverage,” he tells me.

WLAN offload, multiple radio networks, and small cells? Telco 2.0 has been covering this ever since we first encountered FON.

He believes telecoms should charge for access and make money by selling the ID and payment services, not voice and SMS. It’s one of the reasons he loves Square, Jack Dorsey’s payment company, where he is an angel investor. “It is crazy to pay for voice by the minute as voice is so cheap,” he says. Even SMS texting is a lot of money and he finds that crazy. “We are trying to be the cheapest mobile service in France,” he adds. Don’t be surprised to see Google Voice-type services built into the service itself.

ID, personal data, and mobile payments as services to upstream customers? And better voice and messaging? You heard it here first.

The really big question is whether the cost savings from providing so much connectivity via the Freeboxes will be enough for Free to keep its promises on price. Then we’ll see whether there really is more to the disruption than just another round of commoditisation. And if so, Free will again be a world example of Telco 2.0 best practice.

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June 21, 2011

Guest Post: How can CSPs become Cloud Services Brokers?

Following on from our EMEA brainstorm findings that telcos can increase cloud revenues nine-fold by 2014, Verecloud describe the benefits of the ‘cloud services brokerage model’ aggregating and integrating ICT solutions and bundling them with traditional telecoms services for enterprise customers. This is a guest post by Bill Perkins, CTO, Verecloud.

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have a significant investment in their network infrastructure and Operations Support Systems (OSS)/Business Support Systems (BSS). This investment of billions of dollars is seen as the key asset of the CSP and their strategies are primarily focused monetizing this asset. Examples of these strategies include special pricing in market areas where the network is under-utilized, and wholesale arrangements to increase network utilization by “white-labeling” the assets in a mobile virtual network operator model (MVNO).

While monetizing the network assets is an important part of a CSP revenue strategy, it is not a strong growth strategy because network connectivity is being commoditized. The CSP’s greatest asset is their customer base. Growth strategies must start with monetizing the customer. This includes strategies focused on increasing the average revenue per user (ARPU), reducing churn and providing complete solutions that address all of the information and communication technology (ICT) needs of their customers.

According to Gartner, the single biggest revenue opportunity for CSPs is as a Cloud Service Brokerage.

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June 15, 2011

Guest Post: Dynamic Price Plan Innovation

This is a guest post by John Giere, SVP Products & Marketing, Openwave Systems, covering some of the latest creative mobile data pricing approaches, and solutions to bring them to market faster. It includes options from basic tiered plans to broader ‘shared-wallet’ and micro-segmented data plans, and builds on some of the pricing innovation themes we reported in our recent research note Mobile Broadband Economics: LTE ‘Not Enough’, and which we will be discussing in the upcoming Best Practice Live! free online virtual event, 28-29 June 2011.

Openwave pricing plan options June 2011.png

Source: Openwave Presentation, Telco 2.0 EMEA Brainstorm, May 2011

In the world of the Web, innovation happens quickly. Start-ups spring up like wildflowers. A few succeed; most die, but almost all add to the collective momentum that drives progress faster than any other industry. Witness the disruptive power that digital commerce, digital publishing and digital music have unleashed in such a short period of time. The Web is fertile ground where creativity and risk are encouraged, iteration is more important than perfection, and where the value of ideas lie in how fast they can be put into action.

As the Web has gone increasingly mobile, its convergence with a far more mature telecommunications industry not only highlights a clash of cultures, but it draws sharp contrast between the pace at which the two industries advance. The telcoms space is comprised of larger, more cumbersome entities that tend to move slower and are more resistant to change. While these characteristics may lend a certain stability to the essential services provided, the last few years have seen agile competitors from the online world successfully capture value and revenue from the incumbent carriers. From Skype to YouTube to Facebook, over-the-top providers of popular services have a distinct advantage over the network operators: they innovate quickly. Four years ago there was no such thing as an app store; today the top app store has served over three billion apps.  

If mobile operators want to provide value above and beyond data access and transport they must take a page out of the Web playbook while still focusing on their core strengths. A perfect starting point is pricing.

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March 22, 2011

Guest Post, Momac.net: How operators can transform their portals into subscriber-centric interfaces


What if, rather than trying to second guess our customers’ needs or trying to shape them through advertising with essentially no reliable feedback on its impact, we got the customers to define the packages they buy themselves? In a new whitepaper, Momac sets out their guide to the future of your portal, contact centre, and customer relationships in general.

The explosive growth in ‘off portal’ data traffic combined with the success of smart-phone application stores has led many operators to reassess their portal strategies. In the face of declining content sales and an increasing trend for users to navigate directly to their favourite mobile Internet products and services, many operators are questioning the role of their predominantly content-led portals, with some even considering closing the portal altogether as the declining content sales push portal P+L’s into the red.

In positioning the operator portal as primarily a source of value-added services revenues, however, operators are overlooking the huge impact that portals, and operator branded applications, can have on overall customer experience, and the drive towards customer centricity.

In the new subscriber-aware world, operators need an on-device interface that provides the subscriber with access to all of the compelling new products and services offered by an intelligent, subscriber-centric network. The subscriber interface should be the key point of interaction between subscriber and operator, a place to manage the customers’ complete relationship with the operator, whilst providing access to key 3rd party services (social media, e-mail) which are relevant to each individual. Mobile World Congress 2011 included much discussion concerning subscriber-centric networks and how evolving subscriber data management (SDM) systems can help drive personalized operator services.

Without a portal, or on-device application, the operator website is the de-facto subscriber interface. Accessed via a mobile device, the website can never offer the level of subscriber centricity and customer experience that a made-for-mobile portal or application is able to (a recent study carried out by O2UK highlighted that consumers preferred the experience offered by the carriers O2 Active mobile Internet portal over that offered by browsing the O2 website on a smart-phone), and by failing to understand the potential of a truly subscriber-centric interface, operators risk giving up their most relevant channel. Surely the question operators should be asking themselves is not “Why do we need a mobile portal or branded application?” but rather “Why would I ask my subscribers to browse a desktop website or call a customer service centre when I can give them total control via their mobile device?”

This whitepaper will explore how mobile operators can transform their portals and applications from the typical content store front into a highly personalised, subscriber-centric interface accessible on all types of devices including phones and tablets, and focused on enhancing customer experience and, hence, loyalty, driving core voice and data revenue, and reducing OPEX.

Click here to read more.

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January 28, 2011

Threats to the Telco Business Model: Next Week - 2nd/3rd Feb Reminder


A quick reminder, Telco 2.0 is presenting our second FREE ‘Best Practice Live!’ virtual event on Wednesday 2nd February, 0900-1500 GMT, and Thursday 3rd February, 0900-1500 Pacific Standard Time, it features online presentations by, and live discussions with, key innovators in the industry. Sign up here - more details are here]

Here’s a quick preview of the first session at Best Practice Live! 2. The theme is External Threats to the Telco Business Model. We recently published an analyst’s note on Facebook. At our most recent events, delegates thought Facebook was clearly their highest competitive priority - which should come as no surprise. As Telco 2.0 MD Chris Barraclough points out in this new presentation (slides here, permanent link here for members), Facebook urgently needs to be a competitor to telcos’ voice, messaging, and video products if it is ever going to come close to realising the fabulous valuations placed on it.

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Although its growth is spectacular, it’s beaten only by the growth in investors’ expectations of growth in actual revenues, profits, and cashflow. Revenue per user is about one quarter of Skype’s monthly average revenue per paying user, for example. Which would make us tend to wonder who’s going to be paying who under their “strategic partnership”.

We’ll also have presentations on:

  • Out-Appling Apple: is it even possible?
  • Telcos vs. Internet Players: Act before it’s too late
  • Evolution of the Mobile Ecosystem: What’s happening to handsets?
  • and more…

To find out the full story, sign up for ‘Best Practice Live!’ FREE here.

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January 2, 2011

BlueVia: Telefonica’s new global developer platform


Back in February 2009, we blogged about O2 UK’s Litmus project, a developer platform that offered more than any other. As well as a range of useful network APIs and the typical revenue-sharing element, it provided access to crowdsourced testing from Mob4Hire, hosting with Rackspace, and to an internal Telefonica venture-capital group.

Six months later, we reviewed Litmus again, finding a worryingly empty web forum, and were able to interview Jose Valles Nunez and James Parton from Telefonica and O2 respectively about it. They argued that one of the main goals Telefonica had with Litmus was to spot potential star applications that could be integrated with their mainline products in a process of “co-creation”. (An example: Sun Microsystems was eventually so pleased with the open-source community’s version of its Solaris operating system that they decided to use OpenSolaris in their commercial products and have the engineers who worked on Solaris contribute code to the community version instead.)

Developer communities are a major concern for Telco 2.0 (see our Apple vs. Nokia note) and therefore we’re following the story further, in the build up to a new research and event programme for 2011 called ‘Mobile Apps 2.0’.

A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, Telefonica launched BlueVia, a further development of Litmus that will be deployed across the whole Telefonica footprint rather than just O2 UK or Telefonica O2 Europe. Here’s the latest public presentation on Bluevia:

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December 14, 2010

Strategy 2.0: Vodafone’s ‘Happy Pipe’ Vs NTT’s ‘Two-Sided’ Approach in APAC.



Presentations by NTT Research and Vodafone’s division containing its African, Indian, and Asia-Pacific operations revealed very different market strategies. Here’s a quick preview - we’ll be looking at these in more depth in the strategy report ‘The Roadmap to New Telco 2.0 Business Models’, plus a more detailed Analyst Note on these two case studies, and at our US, EMEA and APAC Brainstorms in H1 2011.

At the recent FT World Telecoms event, Naohide Nagatsu, general manager of NTT Research in Europe, presented on their plans for transition to an all-IP NGN. They intend to switch off the PSTN relatively quickly, which is hardly surprising as 68% of Japanese subscribers are on either FTTH or DOCSIS 3 cable and 96% of mobile subscribers are on one 3G technology or other (there being a choice of NTT DoCoMo’s Japanese-flavour 3G, Softbank’s UMTS, or KDDI Mobile’s CDMA-2000).

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NTT is currently making an actual majority of its revenues - 58% - from its ISP and IT solutions businesses, the ones BT terms its New Wave operations. They expect that voice will be down to 25% of revenues in two years’ time - a little behind the schedule Telco 2.0 delegates expected way back in 2006, but not by much.

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October 20, 2010

World Economic Forum: Strategic Opportunities in ‘Customer Data’

The World Economic Forum will be launching a major initiative around leveraging telco customer data at Davos in February 2011. Telco 2.0, along with MIT Media Lab, Harvard Law School and Bain & Co has been part of a core advisory team to prepare for this. In the run up to major sessions on this topic at our Executive Brainstorm events in AMERICAS, EMEA and APAC, and Best Practice Live! virtual events we describe the aims and status of the initiative, and share some of the outputs from a recent workshop in New York:

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware that the World Economic Forum (WEF) is a powerful not-for-profit body that has significant influence in helping industry and government think about global commercial and social development opportunities in new ways.

Each year, within the major industry sectors it covers, it identifies a small set of big issues that it feels are important and which it can uniquely address: strategic topics that require collaboration from a wider variety of stakeholders, cross-border, cross-industry, cross-governmental stakeholders that can’t be assembled or managed by existing industry bodies.

It researches these topics, defines a set of hypotheses, and then each February at its Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland it launches major ‘projects’ to push forward the opportunities it has defined. The Annual Meeting is attended by the CEOs of the world’s biggest corporations, politicians, heads of state and other luminaries. It’s very much the place to be for the great and the good, and ideas and opportunities raised there get very high global visibility.

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June 28, 2010

Rapid Telco 2.0 Implementation - “Yes, we can!”


One of the questions we are most commonly asked by strategists is how Telco 2.0 business models can be deployed in the face of opposition from IT and other management divisions which claim the technology involved in servicing upstream customers will be too expensive, too disruptive and will take too long to implement. At the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm held in London at the end of April, Infonova’s Andrew Thomson offered up one possible solution in a specially arranged session entitled, ‘Yes we can! Rapid implementation of Telco 2.0 Business Models.’

The session was created to look at moving from Telco 1.0 to 2.0 with minimum disruption to existing services and Andrew Thomson began by saying that upstream customers genuinely wanted to consume, bundle, and re-use telco services and assets. However, typically, telco IT departments struggled to deal with this, and even worse, telco management was loath to invest in changes to the billing platform. His

The Vital Importance of Multi-Tenancy
He introduced details of Infonova’s billing platform, specifically its ability to operate as a multi-tenant platform. Multi-tenancy, he explained, enables telco systems to accept upstream customers as operator-like entities, which could inject their own business rules into the system, use its development APIs, and run their product management independently. The whole system therefore adds up to a modular ‘order-to-cash’ platform that permits the operator to sell to many upstream customers, while the upstream customers themselves get a wide degree of control of their own order to cash cycle.

Telco 1.5 in 10 weeks
He cited cloud computing, logistics services, and a KPN-like multi-MVNO strategy as early use cases and also identified smart grid, e-health, and other utility services as major markets of the future. He argued that the Infonova system could deliver “Telco 1.5 in 10 weeks”, and had the advantage that the deployment of new tenant businesses could be repeated again and again without further software development on the side of the operator. This, he claimed, made the move to Telco 2.0 much more possible in the real world.

A video of Andrew’s presentation at Telco 2.0 is here.

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February 12, 2010

Security Breach at M-PESA: Telco 2.0 Crash Investigation

Fraudsters have relieved a Safaricom M-PESA agent of 35,000 Kenyan shillings. This may not sound like a lot (about €340), in a business where figures in the tens of billions are routine, but it’s a business-killing loss for a Kenyan reseller agent. In fact, it’s equivalent to 26.8% of per capita GDP. With a savings ratio of 17%, it would take a typical Kenyan a little over 18 months to replace the capital loss. (Actually it’s worse - there’s no reason to think the savings ratio is evenly distributed. Usually, the rich save more, because they have money to spare.)

And if your business depends on thousands of reseller agents, anything that can wipe out their capital in 20 minutes is a serious threat. Therefore, security is a major challenge in delivering the promise of mobile money.

Seems fairly clear - but how many users have iPhones?

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July 7, 2009

Guest Post: Richard Mishra, Amdocs - In All the Excitement, Do Not Forget the Basics

There is always something to be really excited about in the information and communications industry; Next Generation Networks, Media Services, Service Delivery Platforms, IMS, Service Orientated Architectures, Software as a Service, Virtualization, there is so much to look forward to. The public face of our industry has always focused on service and service delivery, and now we want to take this further and focus on the whole customer experience.

This is great, but it’s only half the picture. If we throw into the mix a deep and global economic recession, then ‘may you live in interesting times’ starts to look like the curse it’s claimed to be. So who is looking after the dull old fashioned business that pays most of our salaries? Where is the discussion about managed, optimized investment? Is the shareholder and the service provider getting good value from what we have in the ground today?

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June 19, 2009

Zoompass: Implementing Mobile Money, Right

A major milestone has been achieved; the first inter-carrier mobile payments system in a developed market since PayForIt. We were impressed when we first met Zoompass at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC); we’re more impressed now. It will offer Canadian subscribers a comprehensive transfer, transaction, and account management service with encryption, whichever of the three main mobile operators they use.

In so doing it has adopted key Telco 2.0 concepts - trusted agent networks, inter-carrier cooperation, and extending telco assets and capabilities into thousands of other business processes.

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June 18, 2009

Pilot 2.0 (Part 2): Using Old Systems for New Business Models

Sometimes new business models feel too complicated to undertake. However, new methods and technologies are enabling operators to trial new business models without having to change their existing systems or processes. Some people are calling this “BSS 2.0”.
 
Building on our last post on how to pilot Telco 2.0 ideas, this guest article from Andrew Thomson, VP Solutions at Infonova expands on his stimulus presentation from May’s Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm and provides some examples of where and how “BSS 2.0” could add value.

PS: Scroll down to see an interview with Simon Torrance and Andrew Thomson for TelecomTV on the same topic

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May 4, 2009

M-Banking: can Zain’s new business model for ZAP rival M-PESA?

One of the major successes of the mobile industry in recent years has been the growth of m-banking in the developing world. (Safaricom is adding 10,000 M-PESA accounts a day) although a considerable number of well-funded, vendor- and operator-backed efforts to deploy m-payments systems in Europe have failed, m-banking succeeded in Africa and Asia - largely because it catered to needs that the rest of the financial system simply didn’t supply. Now, a major emerging market operator, Zain, has entered the game with a radically different business model. Will it work?

(source)

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April 28, 2009

Tackling the Bit Pipe Nightmare with a post-ARPU strategy

In October 2008 we took a trip to BSS specialists Martin Dawes Systems’ Customer Forum to learn about how telcos can get better at retail - and by extension, wholesale too. In the guest post below, the company’s Head of Solution Strategy Cato Rasmussen dreams of becoming a fly and wakes to find he’s become…a telco! Fortunately he got over it in time to participate in the Telco 2.0 braintorm next week.

It’s rather like a horror B-movie. You go to bed, fall asleep and have a frightening nightmare about turning into a fly. You wake up in a cold sweat relieved it’s all been a bad dream - only to look down at yourself and scream.

Of course the scenario is less colourful, but telco operators waking up one day and finding themselves a bit pipe is also a nightmare that won’t go away. It scares many CEOs senseless and could actually now become reality. What can telcos do? They need to accept a new reality - change the way they measure product value and accept that customers will be their ultimate judge.

The bit pipe nightmare has lurked in the industry’s sub-consciousness for many years now. The threat stemmed from how the Internet would merge with mobile communications, smashing down the traditional operator and subscriber relationships. So far this threat has been contained. Mobile operators adopted a walled garden approach where they aimed to hold on to an exclusive relationship with their customers and gauged their value by the money spent directly with them. And, despite the proliferation of viable mobile broadband, subscribers haven’t strayed very far from the walled garden. That is until now.

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March 11, 2009

Why a bank is like Lebara Mobile

This year’s MWC Mobile Money Transfer seminars were interesting, as usual. But the really interesting thing is what nobody said; there was a lot of talk about what you might call the transport layer, the long-haul section in the middle of the transaction, but surprisingly little about the user interface - the point at which the eventual customer pays money into the system or takes it out.

That’s especially odd, as the participants were all very keen to point out that they realised the vital importance of getting cash in and out. Cash is, in a sense, the killer application here; using mobile credit transfer for direct payments, sexy though it is, requires you to beat a powerful negative network effect. It’s the first fax problem; it’s useless until other people accept it, but there’s no reason for them to accept it until people start using it. But if you can convert this funny invisible stuff into cash immediately and without paying usurious commissions, there’s no reason not to accept it - because it’s as good as cash.

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January 14, 2009

Guest Post: New ‘Order to Cash’ outsourcing models for Telco 1.0 and Telco 2.0

In the guest article below, HCL and Infonova discuss the opportunities to outsource key business processes in a world where Telco 1.0 and Telco 2.0 coexist.

Situation - Some indisputable facts

In order to reduce costs, many telcos and cablecos have utilised business process outsourcing, usually outsourcing processes with high volumes of repetitive tasks. An example of this would be Order Provisioning or L1/L2 Customer Support. This type of outsourcing has often delivered significant labour cost arbitrage gains as well as better management and improvement of Service Levels and Performance Metrics in the initial phase of such engagements - thereby initiating an expectation of continuing year-on-year increment of benefits.

However the business benefits of outsourcing have not always been scalable, replicable, and above all, sustainable.

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January 8, 2009

Guest Post: Charging for Bandwidth - the world is not flat

The broadband incentive problem is causing ISPs to crack all over the world. In this guest post Fergus O’Reilly, CTO of Highdeal, discusses the changes we need to make in our IT systems to deliver new business models.

Broadband operators across Cable, ADSL, Fiber and Wireless networks are beginning to re-examine how they charge for bandwidth.

The flat-rate, one-size-fits-all broadband tariff offer has been a big hit with consumers since it is easy to understand, easy to compare across ISPs and does not require understanding exactly what “bandwidth” is and which services actually consume it. Broadband has seen strong adoption over the past years in part because of that simple pricing model.

But this model is now under challenge:

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December 9, 2008

Guest post: Integrated billing and policy management is key to Telco 2.0

Today’s ISP model frequently fails to align behavioural incentives of users, costs of this behavior to the network operator, and revenue. In a guest post, Openet’s CMO Michael Manzo looks at the crucial transition to what might be called ‘Telco 1.5’:

The industry is generally in agreement that “Telco 1.0” triple play bundling of voice, video and data will lead to a long slow decline for network operators. Price erosion and disintermediation will drive revenues down and churn up. Control of the value chain will move upstream to content and application providers. I do subscribe to the Telco 2.0 vision of obtaining new revenues by servicing the needs of new ‘upstream’ customers who want to interact with the ‘downstream’ telco retail customer base. However, I also believe mainstream adoption is a ways off. Most operators are still grappling with the “ex-land grab” implications of their Telco 1.0 businesses, trying to understand a more classical segment marketing approach, and embracing the long tail phenomenon.

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November 24, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 24th November, 2008

In Today’s Issue: Internet forecast wars on again; Odlyzko fights the nonsense; experimental high-def YouTube, and how to get it; BT: OFCOM ate my homework; Amazon’s CDN has landed; Telefonica wants a spaceship or two; T-Mobile UK is down; T-Systems blows the German secret service’s cover; VZW peeks at BHO’s CDRs; SearchWiki, another Google web-hoover; Ubuntu for mobiles; Lotus Notes for Nokia; Nokia and Yahoo!; Nokia and TD-SCDMA, possible faster Chinese rollout; HOWTO manage devices OTA in S60; GPS SIMs coming; Qualcomm’s WLAN LBS; CTIA fights for lucrative convict market; Clearwire-Sprint JV signed, shares tank; Indian consolidation coming; T-Mobile USA’s digiframe comes with data but no music; a cautionary tale about age verification.

It’s another round in the Internet traffic forecast wars. The vendors’ side last week published research claiming that a coming exaflood would lead to “Internet brownouts”; as TelecomTV points out, not only did they use identical language to everyone else who’s predicted this over the last 16 years, but just as always, world authority Andrew Odlzkyo disagrees and is probably right (his MINTS project claims that backbone traffic actually fell recently).

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October 24, 2008

Being a better Retailer: Martin Dawes Systems Customer Forum 2008

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of presenting and facilitating at the user conference of Martin Dawes Systems (Martin Dawes Systems), a provider of integrated billing and CRM systems, as well as analytics via their business unit Lavastorm, now rebranded as Martin Dawes Analytics.

Martin Dawes Systems’ history is in supplying both large and small operators who want an integrated BSS back office solution. These operators want to avoid the cost and integration headache of the “best of breed” approach. The integrated solution also brings its own benefits, such as enhancing the ability to manage business processes end-to-end. We’ve picked up in this article some highlights of their products, and some new ideas about how to run billing, CRM and analytics systems based on the debate with the senior execs who attended - from AOL, Vodafone, GSMA, Carphone Warehouse, BT, KPN, Orange, Telefonica O2, T-Mobile, DTAG, Thus…

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October 20, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 20th October 2008

Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in: Siemens shows a concept phone using the “big touchscreen” iPhone design meme to include a large solar panel in the device. Nice; but hasn’t Siemens given up making phones?

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October 13, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 13th October 2008

In Today’s Issue: Crunch crunches Chinese corporate creativity; Nextel spinout shaky; Sprint execs “industry’s most overpaid”; WiMAX smartphone leaked; VZW starts charging for bulk SMS delivery; IfByPhone understands your call centre campaign; vendor-pays data is here; RIM’s AppStore for enterprises?; Comcast gets social TV; Vodafone buys more of Vodacom; IBM: still has money; Indian cellsites get fuel cells; MBNL-BT backhaul superdeal; xG shenanigans; yet another security nightmare at DTAG; GSMA without the GSM; mobile filmmaking to fight the Taliban. scary!

This week’s main theme was telcos calling off planned corporate action in the face of the financial crisis; Huawei, like so many other vendors, has been thinking of getting rid of its handsets business, a low-margin job better left to cheap Chinese ODMs…hold on, some of us remember when Huawei was a cheap Chinese ODM. But this week, the sale was put on indefnite hold for fear someone might bid one euro and get it.

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September 17, 2008

Telco 2.0 Interview: Steve Zimba, Microsoft

Continuing our series of interviews with major industry thinkers, Steve Zimba is Microsoft’s Managing Director, Global Telecoms Business. We interviewed Steve about their ‘Telco 2.0’ strategy. This integrates their PC, IPTV and mobile offerings with a combined software and services offering, supported by telecoms-specific capabilities and a third party ecosystem.


Steve Zimba

Microsoft is a particularly interesting company to us because they are in a unique position. They bridge the consumer and enterprise markets, which places them well to create technologies and operational businesses for two-sided markets. Their Internet competitors are consumer-centric, and don’t have channels into the enterprise. Rivals such as IBM don’t have the consumer brand or media properties to run experiments on the scale Microsoft can. Furthermore, Microsoft is active across all of the B2B value-added service areas we believe will drive future telco growth: identity, advertising & marketing services, e-commerce, order fulfilment, content delivery, billing & payments, and customer care/CRM. The difficult challenge is whether Microsoft can make the whole more than sum of its software conglomerate parts.

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August 31, 2008

Telco 2.0 Research Programme, Autumn/Winter 2008

Following the publication of the new Telco 2.0 Manifesto, we’ve refreshed our overall strategy research programme for the coming year. (Like the fashion industry, our products change with the seasons.) This new programme will address the key strategic challenges that lie at the heart of creating new value in Telecoms and adjacent markets. Here’s a quick preview.

5 x New “Research Practices”

We’ve organized our research into 5 Research Practices to address the key Telco 2.0™ strategic challenges.

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August 1, 2008

How Billing can become a Revenue Generator

Billing within Telcos is often seen as a necessary evil — an overhead which frequently puts a brake on marketing visions of grand new services. Whereas, billing within the Telco 2.0 world is a great asset offering the capability of pricing nearly any transaction on any number of variables in real time in huge volumes.

One approach to leveraging the telco billing asset is for the telco itself to provide billing services to an upstream partner, and quite often also to collect the money on their behalf. In our recent report on ‘Sizing the Two-Sided Telecoms Business Model’ we estimated that there could be over US$26bn in new revenue for Telcos offering billing and payments services to vertical industries by 2017 (mature markets alone). A good example today is the mobile content industry which has already evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.

This approach is best suited to two situations:

  1. when the telco network is being used to deliver the goods, or
  2. when the telco network is being used as a channel for purchasing the goods and the buyer is a customer of the telco.

Billing is a key enabler for a telco wanting to pursue a two-sided business model, together with a collection of related services: identity, authentication, advertising, business intelligence, e-commerce sales, content delivery, and customer care.

The Telco 2.0 team was therefore delighted to be invited to participate in a recent industry roundtable, organised by Highdeal. (Highdeal provides real-time rating systems that scale to high volumes at low cost using a clever technological approach akin to a compiler for rate plans.) The workshop was entitled “Stop Reinventing the Wheel: Comparing Cross-industry Pricing & Billing Strategies”. Telcos can learn lessons from other industries, both good and bad. Here are just three examples from the Transport Industry:

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

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