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 or call +44 207 247 5003.

google telco rcs.jpg

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September 1, 2010

Vodafone 360 on Android, iTunes: Now Getting it Right?

Vodafone 360 was meant to be a new, social-network centred approach to managing the customer interface. Unfortunately, it was also bug-ridden and dogged by a lack of clarity of purpose. Now, its availability on Android Market and iTunes may create a strategic opportunity for Vodafone to access more customers. More here.


[Ed - we will be discussing issues raised in this article at the Telco 2.0 AMERICAS (27-28 October, LA) and EMEA (9-10 Nov, London) events, as part of the ‘Managing the Co-opetition/Facing up to Facebook’ sessions.]

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December 23, 2009

Telco 2.0 Events in 2010

We’re delighted to publish our events schedule for 2010 here. As well as expanding the popular Telco 2.0 Exec Brainstorms into new geographies, we will be running some smaller ‘summit’ meetings (bringing telco together with other industries, esp entertainment, utilities and healthcare), and launching an exciting new ‘virtual event’ format, to spread the word globally, instantly.

As readers of this blog will know our events are an integral part of our research agenda. In 2010 we’ll be undertaking more analysis on: strategy and finance, machine-to-machine/embedded mobility, video distribution, digital payments, mobile marketing, mobile broadband, cloud computing customer data/privacy and ICT for the healthcare, smart grid and entertainment sectors. Our focus in all of these is ‘business model innovation’. We will publish some material on this blog, with more detailed analysis reserved for subscribers of our Executive Briefing subscription service.

If you have any questions, thoughts ideas, please contact us or, even better, please take part in our survey. What would you like us to focus on?

In the meantime, the Telco 2.0 team will be taking a rest till 4th January. We wish you all the best for the festive season and look forward to interacting with you in 2010.

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July 16, 2009

Ericsson joins Telco 2.0 Partner Programme 2009-10

We’re delighted that Ericsson has joined the ‘Telco 2.0 Partner Programme’ as a Platinum Partner for the coming 12 months. This strategic marketing service gives leading players:

Ericsson join Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs Interactive, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Openet (also Platinum Partners), Alvarion, Detica, Juniper, and SAP (Gold Partners), and Martin Dawes Systems (Silver). Watch this space for more announcements…

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Ovum jump on the Telco 2.0 bandwagon

We’re delighted to see that at long last some of the traditional analyst firms are starting to explore ‘Telco 2.0’ concepts, 3 years after we kicked things off. Ovum’s contribution is here. Who was it who said that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’?

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April 14, 2009

Telco 2.0 on TV…

There are lots of good videos from Telco 2.0 events and panels on our space on Telecom TV here and there’ll be more after May’s event (although only accessible now to delegates or those taking the new distance participation package). In the meantime, Telco 2.0 Initiative co-founder Simon Torrance was asked to do this short film on the ‘two-sided telecom business model opportunity’ for Ericsson for their client meetings at Mobile World Congress 2009:

If you’re interested in the ideas he mentions, you’re strongly advised to check out the Manifesto and introductory presentation to Two-Sided Markets, below:

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January 15, 2009

Telco 2.0 Reader Survey Interim Results: Thirst for Action

The results of the first tranche of our reader survey are below. This has been extremely useful in directing our research and event agenda for 2009. A big thank you to those who have taken part so far.

We will close the survey at the end of January, so if you haven’t taken part yet, please do here (it takes 5 minutes).

NB: We will donate to charity for every respondent (details here) and we will send all respondents a detailed analysis of the results in early Feb.

So far, the results show three trends:

Continue reading "Telco 2.0 Reader Survey Interim Results: Thirst for Action" »

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January 13, 2009

2009 Preview: Re-thinking priorities

It’s the time of year again for the Telco 2.0 analyst team to come up with our highlights of 2008, and thoughts on where 2009 will take us. (For our predictions this time last year, click here). What makes the crystal ball particularly fuzzy right now is the general macroeconomic situation. Are we staring a recession in the face, a depression, or an outright panic? At one extreme we’ll see a little trimming of investment spending. At the other, it largely depends on how black a sense of humour you have.

2009 looks like being a year when the Strategy department should be renamed the Opportunism department. Expect wild currency fluctuations to play havoc with financial reporting, sudden implosions of previously stable operators and suppliers, and unexpected incursions from Internet players into telco services.

In this article we cover 12 topics: basic voice & messaging, media, fixed broadband, mobile broadband, regulation, emerging/growth markets, devices and CPE, M&A, OTT players, OSS/BSS, NEPs, Technology:

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BT gains Telco 2.0 Chief Analyst

Martin Geddes, for the last three years Chief Analyst at STL Partners and the Telco 2.0 Initiative, today joins BT Design as Head of Strategy, working alongside JP Rangaswami and his team.

We asked Simon Torrance, CEO of STL Partners and the Telco 2.0 Initiative, to comment:
“As one of the most creative thinkers in the Telecoms-Media-Technology sector, Martin helped us develop a set of insights which have now grabbed the imagination of industry leaders. We are grateful for all his hard work and dedication to the Telco 2.0 cause. As we move into a new phase - helping the industry implement these ideas - we look forward to interacting with Martin in his new role. As perhaps the world’s leading Telco 2.0 player today, BT is the best company he could have joined. We wish him all the best with this exciting move.”

Martin leaves the Telco 2.0 team with this message:

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January 11, 2009

Top 10 Telco 2.0 articles in 2008

Later this week we’ll publish our preview of 2009. In the meantime, below are our Top 10 most popular articles from 2008…These are all themes that we’ll be progressing in 2009 (draft research agenda here):

1.) BBC iPlayer - destroys the ISP business model
The BBC, one of the world’s biggest producers of content, launched an advanced internet video service on Christmas Day [2007]. We’ve analysed the actual effect on ISP costs. The results are very scary indeed…
2.) Credit Crunch; a silver lining for telcos?
The current liquidity crisis in the financial markets may provide telcos with some unique opportunities for enhancement and transformation of their business models. Here’s an analysis of why, how and where…
3.) Lessons from Amazon - Transactions are telcos’ future
Amazon CTO’s presentation at Telco 2.0 was an inspiring example of what can be achieved by understanding both transaction processing, and the business model around it.
4.) Google vs Telcos - Tale of the Tape
Many people feel that Google will merrily extend its dominance of web search into voice and messaging and mobile advertising. However, new analysis suggests that telcos have some clear advantages for building competitive platforms…if they can exploit them

Continue reading "Top 10 Telco 2.0 articles in 2008" »

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December 22, 2008

Telco 2.0 is seeking your views…and hiring

1. Drive the Telco 2.0 Research Agenda - Please help direct our 2009 research agenda via a short survey here (5 mins max). We will donate to charity for every respondent (details here).

2. Telco 2.0 is hiring world-class staff - Due to the tremendous interest in the Telco 2.0 Initiative and our approach to business model innovation we are hiring staff at all levels, senior and junior: a.) Researchers/analysts, b.) Strategy Consultants, c.) Business Development Execs.

Flexible remuneration packages: employment (UK-based) or contracting (anywhere). Fluent English required.

To apply, please email us i.) with a critique of the ‘Telco 2.0’ manifesto, ii.) detailing how your skills and experience could add value to our business, iii.) with descriptions/examples of world-class business model analysis you’ve done in the Telecoms-Media-Tech sector. (Please do not send CV’s without this information.)

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November 26, 2008

Telco 2.0 reader survey - help us improve our value to you

Dear Reader,
We would really appreciate your input to refine the direction of the Telco 2.0 Initiative’s research programme for the next 12 months.

Please give us your input using the short online questionnaire here. (It takes just 5 minutes).

An incentive? Apart from better research output from us, we’ll donate up to £1,000 to Oxfam this Christmas. £1,000 will buy 40 goats for communities in poor countries or care for 20 vulnerable kids. We’ll give the equivalent of a Goat’s worth to Oxfam for every 10 of you who complete our reader survey. Thank you in advance for stimulating our generosity as well as our insight.
(Full link to survey here:

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November 25, 2008

Monaco Media Forum and Ofcom conference: Telecoms opportunities abound

Clearly, we’re pleased to see the industry moving so enthusiastically to grapple with the realities of Telco 2.0 principles, but two valid questions to ask are: to what extent does this reflect the specific audience which Telco 2.0 attracts, and how well, if at all, do the challenges of Telco 2.0 concepts map across other segments of the value chain?

Luckily, we received invitations to two interesting conferences which pleasingly echoed many of the same issues we are striving to address: the Monaco Media Forum and the OFCOM International Conference, for which our senior associate analyst, James Enck, was also asked to prepare a short paper on the challenges of funding next generation access.

In this article, we present some of the key takeaways and their relevance to the Telco 2.0 message. We’ve also gathered some must-see videos of key presentations:

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November 12, 2008

Vodafone 2008 Results - new CEO at the crossroads to Telco 2.0?

The Telco 2.0 team looks at operator results through a different lens to most analysts. Rather than focusing on the minutiae of data trends, we look for hints of changes in corporate direction and the pursuit of, or potential of pursuing, more sustainable growth strategies based around a ‘two sided’ business model.

It was with this perspective that we listened in on the Vodafone 2008 half year results call. Despite being categorized by some on call as being a “large, cumbersome beast”, the Telco 2.0 team can see a possibility of Vodafone emerging as the Telco 2.0 poster child, just as it”s been the Telco 1.0 star. Here’s why:

Continue reading "Vodafone 2008 Results - new CEO at the crossroads to Telco 2.0?" »

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September 17, 2008

Credit crunch - silver lining for telcos?

We’re delighted to welcome James Enck onto the Telco team. Reknowned financial analyst, hedge funder and blogger James will be helping us to make the Telco 2.0 vision more tangible for senior execs, specifically in the near term via a series of ‘use cases’ that show in more detail how Telco 2.0 thinking can work in practice. He’ll also help us engage more with the finance community. (James will be presenting some of his work at our November event).

We asked him to give his thoughts on what the credit crunch means for telcos:

Each passing day seems to bring some dire new revelation about the poor state of the financial markets. While life remains tough in Telcoland, in relative terms the financial strength of the industry generally remains enviable.

The current liquidity crisis in the financial markets may provide telcos with some unique opportunities for enhancement and transformation of business models, if they are open to deploying their capital in a manner consistent with Telco 2.0 thinking. Some of those are explored below, but there are no doubt others, and we’d be interested to hear of further examples from readers.

The U.S. government has clarified its stance on “moral hazard” by allowing Lehman Bros, a major investment bank, to fail. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association is so focused on orchestrating an orderly unwind of Lehman’s positions that it held a special trading session on Sunday and has even canceled its own members conference, which should have taken place yesterday (perhaps they were afraid that the offer of a free lunch might trigger a riot).

Continue reading "Credit crunch - silver lining for telcos?" »

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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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July 31, 2008

New Telco 2.0™ Manifesto - Second Edition Preview

The current telecoms business model is approaching its ‘end of life’. Today, we’re previewing here on our blog an updated Telco 2.0™ Manifesto which we hope will provide a cogent reference point for creating a vibrant new business model at the heart of the digital economy.

This second edition reflects the changes in our thinking over the last two years since we launched the Telco 2.0™ Initiative. It is based on output from four major Telco 2.0™ ‘executive brainstorm’ events, multiple consulting engagements around the world, and our formal research programmes. We’d like to thank the many people who have wittingly (or unwittingly) provided input to it.

The Manifesto is relevant to:

  • Those developing strategy across the telecoms, media and technology (TMT) sector.
  • Corporate managers in all vertical industry sectors looking to improve efficiency and effectiveness through Information and Communications Technology.

We believe it provides new insights into future business models for the ‘information economy’ at large. The Manifesto seeks to answer eight critical questions:

  1. What are the fundamental properties of today’s telecoms business model?
  2. Why do these create challenges for future growth?
  3. Why are current efforts to find a new business model too limited in scope?
  4. What are the real issues that need to be addressed?
  5. What are the key principles behind the new business model?
  6. What are the core products and services of a Telco 2.0™ business model?
  7. How big is the size of the opportunity?
  8. What does the journey to this new business model look like?

We very much encourage your feedback, either in via the comments tool below, or directly to

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June 30, 2008

Are faster mobile networks worth the effort?

We were asked to present on a panel at the private marketing innovation conference of a UK mobile carrier last week. The subject was the “Need for Speed”: what are the real drivers for network capacity and speed, and thus where should an operator focus its investments?

Since our answers are generic to all mobile carriers, we thought we’d share them with you here. The format was five questions, addressed by all the speakers:

  • What user behaviour is driving the demand?
  • Which access technologies to invest in?
  • What kind of devices will absorb this capacity?
  • Does wireless displace fixed access for data?
  • How does the customer relationship evolve?

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February 8, 2008

Free* Telco 2.0 Research

A number of people have approached us asking if we could make any ‘special offers’ around our new research and big April event. Since the telecoms industry is only worth $2 trillion, and our analysis describes a growth opportunity of a mere $250bn, it seems only fair to offer some thrifty options:

First up, a free slidehow summarising our recent analysis. Then below that some offers to tempt you or colleagues to access our services.

Special offers - Telco 2.0 Event, 16-17 April, London
- 20% discount for bookings made before 15 February here
- Send a delegation and get additional discounts for group/team bookings.
- If your an alumnus of our events, we have an additional offer. Contact us here.
- Free* new research reports for all event participants. Choose one from:
* Future Broadband Business Models - Winning/losing strategies for service providers
* The “Two-Sided” Platform - Sizing the new commercial opportunity
* Voice & Messaging 2.0 - How to sustain and protect core revenues
* Telcos in Advertising - The best strategic approach for entering the marketing value chain
* Request an event brochure here; Sponsorship Opportunities here; Full details of offers here

[We wouldn’t be in the telecoms industry if we didn’t have a * for our ‘free’ offer. Here it is: * Choice of one report. Single User License for all participants at the event.]

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January 31, 2008

Mobile Planet Party Invitation - Barcelona, 13 Feb

…and…cut! That’s a wrap! Our friends at TelecomTV and GSMA have extended a party invitation to Telco 2.0 blog readers who are coming to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It’s to celebrate the launch of a new film celebrating 20 years of GSM and the social and economic impact of global mobile communications. It’s a supreme networking opportunity.

TelecomTV’s Guy Daniels, the film’s Director, travelled the globe with a film crew and is set to gather the last footage at Mobile World Congress 2008. Join TelecomTV and the GSMA at the film’s official wrap party. Munch on popcorn, drink beer and talk to some of the industry players that appear in the film, as well as those who contributed to its production. To view the Mobile Planet trailer, please click here.

  • What: Mobile Planet Wrap Party
  • When: Wednesday, 13th February, 2008, 17:30 to 20:00
  • Where: Mobile World TV (TelecomTV) Studio, Stand # 7C95, back of Hall 7, Fira de Barcelona
  • RSVP: Please RSVP by Wednesday, 6 February to Rachel Bailey at or +44 (0)207 448 1081
  • The Telco 2.0 team will be there in force too…
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January 22, 2008

Sprint-Nextel: 1.0 thinking in a 2.0 world

As you may have read in our news post this week, as well as elsewhere, Sprint-Nextel is in deep trouble. Since this is a story that has been well-covered in the industry press, we’ll just briefly recap the main points, but dig deeper into the business model aspects.

The basic facts of the situation are:

  • Sprint grew up with three lines of business: local access, long distance networks, and mobile networks. It pursued a “One Sprint” strategy to try to cross-sell these before giving up, spinning off the local division as Embarq, and re-focusing on the core wireless business (with added enterprise appeal from Sprint’s long distance network). Combined with the Nextel merger (see below), this “Grand Old Duke of York” approach to business strategy demoralises the troops as they are marched up the hill only to be told to march down again.
  • Verizon and Cingular were making headline-winning numbers every quarter with net additions to their network. Sprint turned to, ahem, sub-prime users to try to beef up its numbers. This led to a bad debt disaster. (Sound familiar?)
  • At the same time, Sprint made several execution errors. Specifically, a massive write-off on a new billing system (that none of the customers cared about), and a disaster around customer care. The “micro metrics” driving behaviour of customer service reps were wrong, leading to customer dissatisfaction. And the “macro metrics” that focused on cost saving also killed the long-term value of the brand — some core activities were outsourced to IBM, in a relationship that was never easy to manage. Too many customer care reps were based in India and simply didn’t care whether the caller was happy or not.
  • Nextel’s success was based on it’s excellent push-to-talk application, giving it high ARPU and low churn. This turned a disadvantage (i.e. poor trunked radio spectrum) into a true advantage and differentiator. It’s a textbook example of the benefits of vertical integration, with Motorola providing a total solution of handsets, network, and application services. However it was in a technology dead-end due to their technology roadmap having no obvious next step. They were also short of spectrum and capital to build another nationwide network. Thus the merger of unequals.
  • Finally, no matter what the strategy, execution matters. Tomi Ahonen has one of the more colourful write-ups of the most recent PR fiasco where rather than apologise, Sprint offloaded customers who complained too much about the products and processes being broken.

That was the Business Week way of looking at the sources of Sprint’s predicament. What about the business consultant angle?

Continue reading "Sprint-Nextel: 1.0 thinking in a 2.0 world" »

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January 10, 2008

2008 Preview: Platforms, Partners… and Predators

As is traditional at this time of year, we’ve been reviewing everyone else’s crystal ball visions, as well as giving the tea leaves at the bottom of our corporate mugs a gentle swilling. Here’s what we think the future might have in store for us, with a bias towards European and North American communications markets. We’ve picked 21 of the biggest trends we see unfolding, but nothing is neatly segmented into calendar years, so we’re not wagering too much on the timing of any of these events.

Key highlights we discuss below include how:

  • investors are following the wrong KPIs.
  • the network doesn’t just stop at the central office or cell tower any more.
  • ‘open’ turns out to be easy to say, hard to do.
  • enabling boring business processes brings bountiful bundles of cash.
  • new networks don’t need old revenue models.
  • hardware goes soft, and we don’t just you’ll get a new leather pouch for your mobile.
  • telco plumbers go well with IT electricians.
  • telcos may be aspiring media stars, but our panel voted ‘no’.
  • we say goodbye to ‘ISP’, hello to ‘MSP’.
  • ‘two-sided’ sounds like an insult, but turns out to be a compliment.
  • ‘wholesale’ and ‘sexy’ mysteriously get conjoined.
  • nobody gets to be neutral on network neutrality.
  • spectrum is like clean air: everyone wants it, nobody wants to pay for it.
  • regulators find themselves coupled with telcos on a waterbed.
  • privacy trumps piracy.
  • everyone pretends to be environmentally sound when all they want is to work in their dressing gown.
  • ‘mobile’ turns into a four-letter word.
  • iPhone meets my phone
  • emerging market voice and messaging isn’t just cheap and cheerful, but dangerously different
  • voice gets absorbed by the Internet borg
  • everyone wants to be a telco, except telcos

Continue reading "2008 Preview: Platforms, Partners... and Predators" »

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December 13, 2007

Advertising: The Telco Trojan Horse

We recently gave readers of this blog a summary of the key highlights from the Advertising and Marketing Summit at the Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in October, run in partnership with the GSMA. This post seeks to build on the last one and give further insight into why Advertising should be interesting to operators: not because it will fill the gap created by declining voice and messaging revenues alone, but because it represents an entrée into other lucrative areas.

Let’s look at what was covered at the Advertising and Marketing Summit in a bit more detail:

Customers: “Why aren’t you doing more?”

We kicked off the day with three potential customers of Telco advertising services:

  1. Nick Strauss, Senior Planner, Mather Advertising - ‘The Brand’
  2. Sunil Gunderia, VP Mobile EMEA, Walt Disney Internet Group - ‘The Content Provider’
  3. Richard Wheaton, Managing Director, Neo@Ogilvy - ‘The Media Buyer’

Continue reading "Advertising: The Telco Trojan Horse" »

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December 12, 2007

Orange: Success in Access, Failure in Apps - Lessons for mobile business models?

We’ve been doing some rummaging around Orange UK’s latest figures on data and application usage. They put a positive spin on them, of course, but here’s our take:

Good news: SMS, as expected, is delivering the goods, but the hidden gem is mobile access. The numbers of people using mobile broadband was large (1.4m) - it was almost as much as fixed boadband (1.6m). People are either paying per megabyte or have a contract. This positive trend is being repeated across the pack in the UK - vodafone (via data cards), 3UK (dongles) and T-Mobile UK (via web ‘n’ walk).

Bad News: The applications (MMS, selling music, games etc) are performing poorly. Here’s how they didn’t present the information:

Continue reading "Orange: Success in Access, Failure in Apps - Lessons for mobile business models?" »

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December 7, 2007

Job at Telco 2.0

Demand for Telco 2.0 research is growing rapidly. So we’re now looking for an experienced commercial manager to grow our business in this area.

The role is UK based, but with worldwide coverage. The ideal candidate will have experience of developing a research business with a major market research player in the Telecoms-Media-Technology sector. There’s a significant bonus element to reflect the green-field opportunity.

If any of our readers knows anyone who would be interested, please point them to us here.

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September 4, 2007

Are you “easy to do business with”?

You know those “life events” that cause your arteries to fur up, and make your hair go thin, grey and limp? I had one the week before last. I moved house. Buyers not signing contracts until the 11th hour, sellers wanting to change moving date at the stroke of midnight as their new home hadn’t quite been built yet (your problem mate, not mine). My stress level was off the scale:

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
— Spoof rock documentary Spinal Tap

I’ll leave you to turn 11/10 into a blood pressure reading, but it’s not a healthy one. Anyhow, in the midst of all this, there’s one essential utility you need to seamlessly transfer as you switch properties. Forget stuff like gas and water. I can buy bottled water to drink, skip a shower, eat cold food, and wear an extra pullover. An Internet addict needs broadband.

A while back I experienced a non-functioning sign-up form on a BT website. In the comments and some subsequent email exchanges, BT’s CIO left me with the challenge of how companies like BT can be “easy to do business with”, and I agreed to post my thoughts some day.

I think you can guess where my inspiration might now come from to complete the quest. I’m going to use a little vignette from my own experience to make the point about how a customer-centric organisation thinks and acts.

Continue reading "Are you "easy to do business with"?" »

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July 18, 2007


An SMS message! Who’s it from?

TELCO. (They can be anonymous for now.) Apparently they think I might be travelling to Europe, and therefore that I might want to know about their new roaming rates. Fair enough - that would be some of the contextual messaging stuff the people at Acision/ex-LogicaCMG Telco Products are always talking about, no?

Well, it would if I actually was travelling to Europe. Given that TELCO knows my phone has been in the same cell, near my home address, all day, you’d think they would have thought of this - strikes me that the trainload of phones zooming along the Channel Tunnel Rail Link every 30 minutes or so must show up quite impressively in TELCO’s switching centre as a lot of the same devices sending CC SETUP messages very quickly indeed.

They’re probably more likely to be heavy mobile users than the general population, too. Similarly, Heathrow Airport is full of people who certainly are travelling to Europe, as well as picocells deployed in the sprawling terminals..there’s surely an opportunity here to put some of the talk about advertising that “users will value” into effect, by targeting devices that have just turned up in those cells.

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July 17, 2007

Behold the Data Transport Systems Project

So you’ve read about our methodology, and you understand that it’s all about the distribution of bits that the recipient considers valuable. You’ve read the map, and the essay that goes with it.

But how will all this be put into practice? For that, you need our Data Transport Systems project - think of it as Telco 2017. From here to October, Martin Geddes, Rafil Khatib, Keith McMahon and I will be inquiring into how the forces detailed in the maps will twist the telecoms industry over the next 10 years. We’ll be looking at everything from BitTorrent to cinemas and USB sticks, and drawing lessons from electricity grids and container shipping networks on how mass wholesale businesses can make very personalised, targeted ones possible.

Not just that, but we’re also interested in failure.

We’ll be looking at the differences between things that succeed and then go obsolete, and the ones that hit the trees at the edge of the airfield. MMS, this means you. There’s also going to be peering, interconnection, and the pressing question of whether telecoms is going to be a for-profit activity in 2017, rather than a huge cost centre like a corporate IT department, a government agency, or Haiti with routers. And if it is still profitable, where it will be making money.

Remember, the Map says by then we’ll see “other” passing broadband, steamphone, and NGN added together. DTS is intended to answer the question of what the other will be. It’s traditional to say that the future might be X, Y, or “something we can’t imagine yet”; but it’s also trivial. It’s abundantly clear that the traditional telco model won’t be “it”, but there are also good reasons to imagine that classic ISPs are not “the future” (so many are morphing into sizable telcolike entities, after all). So what will the synthesis be?

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June 13, 2007

Best of Telco 2.0 blog — One year on

Today’s our first blogiversary, so we thought we’d celebrate by pulling out a few of our gems from the last twelve months that you might have missed.

Business models

We’re proud of our consulting client work on designing new business models, but for obvious reasons you don’t get to read about that on the blog. Still, we’ve tried to share a bit about our methodology, such as defining a process for business model design, and examples of how to go about business model innovation.

We’ve also done some hypothetical case studies: designing a “blue ocean strategy” for an operator to serve the urban poor, and building a Telco 2.0 compliant MVNO.

We also look at some more theoretical concerns, such as how networks of compatibility arise.

Communications over content

We made an early foray into the opportunities for telcos to develop smarter personal communications services rather than being obsessed over media content sales. Continuing on this theme we’ve talked about how the telephony experience can be improved, as well as rethinking the phone book, and the prospect of the personalised telephony experience.

On the business side, rather than the product and user experience, we’ve covered the real sources of value in SMS, our voice and messaging survey results, and future business model for telephony


Our Telco 2.0 market study on the role of the network operator in advertising is a wealth of unique information on a hot growth area, but you’ll get a lot of the key ideas by reading our blog posts. You might want to start with an introduction to the key issues. We’ve published summaries of our first and second advertising workshops at the last two Telco 2.0 events, as well as extracts from the executive summary of the report.

Delving into more detail, you can avoid doing any real work for the rest of today by learning about:

Platforms and partners

Telcos desperately need to open up their services to partners and allow in a little fresh innovation. Taking a business perspective first, we jointly reviewed with Keith McMahon the weaknesses of the Internet businesses, as well as the nature of adjacent businesses enabled by platform, pipe and identity assets.

If you build a platform, remember to address commercial needs as well as technical application integration. Finally, a strong strategy is nothing without good execution and a great user experience.

Marketing and pricing

When we’re not designing new business model and products our attention veers towards the sale of what’s already on the truck. So in that light, we’ve pondered what do telco brands really stand for, how to price for abundance rather that scarcity, and how you might rethink Friends and Family pricing plans.

Business model map

On of the highlights of our past year was the publication of our map of how valuable bits might be moved between users in different ways in the future. You might like to start with this overview before going into more depth with parts one, two, three and four of the essay that describes what we now call the Data Transport Systems Map. We’ll be doing more research on this over the summer — follow the overview link for details.


Being telecom, we can’t ignore the networks themselves and network technology, so why not burden your browser with a few more tabs and windows:

Industry comment

Finally, we’ve picked on a few well-known names to write about, with a retrospective of 3GSM, Microsoft’s telecom products, and BT’s Telco 2.0 strategy.

If you’d like to meet the Telco 2.0 team in person, why not come to our next Executive Brainstorm in London on 16-18 October?

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May 24, 2007

Career Opportunity - GSM Association Content Director

Our friends at the GSM Association have a new role to fill - see below. If you’re interested, please send your CV to Michaila Stanton (no recruitment consultants, please, they’ve got enough of those, that’s why they asked to put a post on this blog):

GSM Association - Content Director Role Description (London based, full time position)

1. The Organisation & Background

The GSMA is the operator-led trade association for the global mobile industry. Our membership includes more than 700 network operators that provide mobile communications services across more than 213 countries and territories.

Together, our members serve more than 2 billion users - almost 1/3 of the world’s population and over 80% of the world’s digital mobile market.

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May 4, 2007

Restructuring to deliver Telco 2.0 services

We’re often asked What is “Telco 2.0”? In short it refers to a world, enabled by IP, which is highly modular and has a horizontal structure of hardware (networks and devices), connectivity and content/services. Users aren’t forced into a particular choice of one of these by their preference for another. So an operator offering a single own-brand IPTV service is following a traditional “Telco 1.0” approach of vertical integration; whereas one which creates an efficient content delivery network and opens up to partners (or at least co-opetition) is a Telco 2.0 approach. The products and technology may be similar, but the business models are different.

To deliver these services it should come as no surprise that the organisational structure needs to change. The old style of Telco was network-centric: a business unit for fixed, another for mobile, maybe another for international networks. Slowly that’s morphed into customer-centric: enterprise and consumer, making the hardware layer “horizontal” across the business. The network group then also has incentives to seek new wholesale customers so it’s not entirely dependent on one or two internal retail groups for its services.

Now we’re seeing the third phase of change, as the “horizontal” layers grow to encompass more of the operator’s functions. BT have announced that they are establishing two new divisions with a product innovation and delivery focus. Sprint did a very similar thing in my tenure with its Product Realization group, which combined both new product development and operations under one roof. It introduced process innovations such as monthly operations reviews attended by all product managers giving everyone a complete view of the business.

BT’s approach also seems to be a “Telco 2.0 compliant” approach, given some caveats. In BT’s case, they’re following the full set of Telco 2.0 strategies:

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May 3, 2007

Death of the SIM card?

One of the topics which came up in the ‘Digital Worker’ stream at the recent Telco 2.0 event was the role of the mobile operator and their SIM card. We asked Colin Mallett, our ‘analyst-in-residence’ for that session, and who spent many years working in R&D for BT, to share his thoughts with us:

“10 years ago BT started looking at a new kind of player called the ‘SoftTelco’. Later, with a multi-million pound R&D budget, we tried to implement some of the ideas, eventually ending up in the Brightstar incubator. This included looking at MVNOs and how to by-pass the Mobile Operator’s SIM.

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January 5, 2007

2007 Telecom Predictions - Review of the Best

We’ll leave you to decide. Does a collection of a dozen sets of 2007 telecom predictions make a wise crowd or a demented mob? Anyhow, we’ve had a bit of fun puling together some of the highlights and lowlights of the analyst, media and blogosphere outlook for 2007.

Outlook from the ‘Blognoscenti’

We aren’t going to review every item, just pick some of the more interesting ones. VoIP industry godfather Jeff Pulver kicks us off with this one:

While the hype surrounding Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) will grow during 2007, the FMC marketplace will continue to stagnate until such time that software becomes widely available for dual model phones that offer seamless roaming across unaffiliated wifi/wimax hotspots.

This seems to be a common theme, and we’re not alone in suspecting that FMC is a dead-end for consumers in its current form. Extending cellular coverage in-building (the bit users care about) looks like something best left to… well, cellular technology. Until you start adding features and capabilities, IP is just adding overhead. It’ll take an innovator like Apple to kick-start that process.

He also has some good news for equipment vendors:

TDM services will continue to be “end-of-lifed”. All Telecom operators will be IP-based within 5-7 years.

We’d agree, but then as we’re about Making Money in an IP World, we would, wouldn’t we? But then again, if you’re a TDM switch vendor, you’re in the interesting position of having the right sales force, support, brand and customer relationships … to sell Cisco IP gear to telcos. [Boss — are we allowed to say this out loud?] Jon Arnold’s probably right that there are too many vendors chasing too few large capex deals.

Fellow blogger Dean Bubley predicts the emergence of the corporate MVNO. You can imagine an operator with a good network but poor distribution to corporates doing this in alliance with a systems integrator or IT behemoth (or both). This would fit our “pipe” and “platform” Telco 2.0 strategies. The smarter the operator, the better they’ll do at “white label” handset logistics, support and billing — with the pipe just being a hygiene factor in any deal. One to watch.

He also suggests:

[Location-based] navigation becomes rather more important on mobiles. Mobile search doesn’t.

This fits with our outlook too. Communications beat content. As we said before, the specific case of rendezvous in time and space is important. These generally trump information and entertainment. The GSMA found the same thing in their research. Mobile search will take a long time to mature: users are looking for information to advance them to their next objective, and today’s search just isn’t geared to it yet. A big opportunity for a future year, or an already solved problem?

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