Around the World

Posted: April 14th, 2011 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Microsperience …
The Customer Experience—You Can’t Improve It If You Don’t Know What It Looks Like
Telesperience analyst Teresa Cottam takes a deep look at customer experience in telecoms in her recent blog post.  She explains how there are very different v

iews regarding what it involves, what the most important customer touchpoints are and how we can focus our efforts on improving the experience we offer our customers.  The analyst makes an important point when she states that customer experience is everything we do that touches the customer—not just customer service, CRM, billing, etc.—but the performance of networks by IT, marketing and the business.  Communications service providers (CSPs) have spent a considerable amount of money and effort trying to support and meet their customers’ needs, provide a better experience and even understand what exactly their customers want; so why does disappointment still prevail?  Teresa identifies eight answers to this complex question, but the ones that caught our eye are creating customer service silos and over-focusing on technology.

On the same front, Informa’s Kris Szaniawski attended the Managed Services for Growth Markets conference last week in Dubai, and as he points out, customer experience was certainly a hot topic of discussion.  Many operators are frustrated with the linkage between the measurable indicators and the customer experience—not the indicators themselves.  When it comes to measuring customer experience, should CSPs focus first on a custo

mer satisfaction index, or should they send packets into the network, collect data from OSS, probes and terminals, drive tests or analyse behaviour

in some other way? Or should they try to focus on all of them more or less equally?  And which of these measurements, if any, comes closest to representing the end-user experience?

Vendors, including Comptel, are exploring the relationship between indicators and the customer experience, as it doesn’t need to be elusive anymore.  Operators can fully leverage their data and network assets to deliver an exceptional customer experience upon end-users becoming customers and through their use and upgrade of services.

Connected Planet…
Ovum Analyst Warns LTE Is Overhyped, But Does Anyone Care?
A recent Ovum report by Matt Walker states that LTE is overhyped and that only 11 percent of mobile broadband subscribers are going to be on the 4G network by 2015.  After reading comments from a Light Reading article, which describes the report, BSS/OSS reporter Susana Schwartz says that she disagrees with Ovum’s stance.  Unlike 3G, Susana thinks the situation with 4G is more pressing and will, therefore, push things along more so than in the past.  In addition, competition now spans companies beyond telecom, and the ability to have 4G is no longer a choice, as the cycles from conceiving a service, planning, deploying and going live is very short.  Susana also points out that multi-year cycles could be the death knell for some service providers.  Only time will tell if LTE, like 3G, is overhyped.  Did you read Ovum’s report?  Do you agree or disagree that LTE is overhyped?

New Sprint Ad Campaign Hinges On Unlimited Data
North American CSP Sprint Nextel plans to continue to push its unlimited offerings with an advertising campaign centered on its new tagline, “All. Together. Now.” Sprint’s effort is in light of rivals’ actions, which limit users’ data traffic by either metered billing or throttling.  It appears that the CSP plans to use the issue of usage-based pricing to differentiate itself from competitors; for years, Sprint has been pushing its “Simply Everything” plan, which provides unlimited talking, texting and data.  However, Sprint too has suffered from the recent surge in broadband traffic—the carrier tacked on an extra $10.00 per month for its unlimited data plans.  What do you think of Sprint’s continued path of offering unlimited data in today’s smartphone-engrossed world?

Around the World

Posted: March 31st, 2011 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »…
Mobile Handset Market in India to Witness Tremendous Growth in Next Five Years [Report]
Aseem blogged about a recent Frost & Sullivan report, which looks at the Indian mobile handset market and the country’s expected mobile market growth within the next five years.  According to analysts, India has reached the coveted position of the second largest mobile handset market in the world after China—it’s expected to become even bigger with 208.4 million phones being shipped by 2016 at a CAGR of 11.4% between the period of 2010 – 2016.

Aseem’s post stuck out to us because Olivier Suard touched on a similar topic a few weeks back.  One particularly interesting fact he noted—last year, India had about 68 mobile handset players, and if Frost & Sullivan’s predications are accurate, it will skyrocket to more than 200!  If this is indeed the case, further competition and the squeezing of profit margins will take place—and OSS can have a major play.

With the proliferation of Web 2.0 and Internet surfing, the use of smartphones is expected to rise in India.  But during subscribers’ switch from ‘dumb phones’ to smartphones, it’s important to maintain a high quality of experience.  For instance, customers using basic handhelds should have the option to select which services they want during activation, and those surfing the web on their mobiles shouldn’t experience slow speeds due to network congestion.

Connected Planet…
Pricing ‘Sweet Spot’ Still Eludes Carriers
BSS/OSS reporter Susana Schwartz discusses the disconnect that has emerged between carriers and customers when it comes to pricing wireless and wireline data services.  Customers are bitter towards the new usage caps and overage fees they feel are being forced by AT&T and other communications service providers (CSPs).  The timing of Susana’s piece comes on the heels of recent stories on customers claiming that their data usage is off.  While the percentage of users generating high data traffic is fairly small, it’s still necessary for operators to figure out—sooner rather than later—how to target those customers with these caps without ‘punishing’ the greater whole of their user base.

Susana points out that there’s no confusion in the messaging about 4G and LTE investments, but relatively little is said about the changes in OSS/BSS environments to ensure services are fulfilled, assured and billed in the most optimal way possible.  If carriers manage to translate this into more consumer-friendly terms—and that provisioning, billing and customer-care systems are more accurate and robust—then perhaps there wouldn’t be so much distrust on the accuracy of the metering of usage and the consequences in terms of caps and overage charges.

Usage-based pricing seems to be the ‘sweet spot’ for operators—taking the approach “you get what you pay for”.  Policy and charging control can accurately identify these customers and the services they consume and bill them appropriately.

TM Forum’s Inside Leadership…
Predictions for 2011: Environmental Drivers of Communications Trends
Rob Rich, managing director of TM Forum Insights Research, shared some global communications trends and predictions for 2011.   He notes that, in general, the growth of communications services is connected to the state of the global economy—and thankfully, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reported good news for this year; the global economy is expected to expand 4.2 percent.  China and India are expected to lead the larger economies in growth, by approximately 9%and 8%, respectively.  However, developed economies are not expected to perform as well, with the U.S. expected to achieve an increase of 2.2 percent, Japan a rate of 2 percent and the European Union slightly less than 2 percent.

After evaluating the global trends, Rob made some communications industry predictions for 2011—here is a sampling of the ones that struck us:

  • The margin crunch intensifies—fixed line revenues, including for data, are under pressure, and the rapid growth of mobile broadband won’t bring additional revenues, but will continue to require massive investment in network capacity.  Arguably, CSPs’ greatest opportunity is in acting as enabler for other parties in the value chain. In the short term, there is no quick fix.
  • Cloud services approach the mainstream—there’s lots of activity in this area with different companies investing in data centers, computing infrastructure, software platforms and much more.  Only some will see true success, and the Forum expects to see rationalisation during 2011.  They predict the sweet spots will be small- and medium-sized businesses, emerging markets and Software as a Service.  In addition, enterprises will be forced towards the adoption of cloud by financial considerations.
  • Data management and analytics become critical competencies—communications is one of the world’s most data intensive businesses, but the timely and effective use of this data is behind many other industries—a situation that needs to be addressed.  The customer experience can be greatly improved with data management and analytics. This has many benefits including increased revenue, enhanced brand reputation, reduced churn and the extension of the CSP’s role across the value chain. This is especially true when the information is ready in real time. CSPs need to start by figuring out where the biggest payback will be and go from there.

TM Forum members may read the full version of this Quick Insights report on the association’s website.

Around the World

Posted: January 26th, 2011 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Sprint Increases Unlimited Smartphone Data by $10 Per Month
Sprint announced last week that it has raised the price of its unlimited smartphone data service by $10 per month.  The communications service provider’s (CSP) spokesperson, Cristi Allen, told FierceWireless that the change is “reflective of where the mobile data market is going.  It’s just not that customers are buying more smartphones, which they clearly are, but they’re using more smartphone features.”  Allen also stated that Sprint is committed to its unlimited pricing philosophy—unlike other U.S. carriers, such as AT&T, who last year scrapped its unlimited data pricing for smartphones in favour of two usage tiers ($15 per month for 200 MB and $25 per month for 2 GB).  Sprint believes that the change will allow it to meet customers’ needs, maintain simplicity in pricing and continue to invest in its network to meet subscribers’ growing demand for data. What do you think about the CSP’s move?

Total Telecom…
Bharti Airtel Sees 3G Stabilising ARPU, Adding to Earnings
Despite Indian telecom operators’ low average revenue per user (ARPU), Bharti Airtel sees its third-generation services helping to stabilise it. The CSP’s 3G service will allow multimedia capabilities on mobile networks and is likely to improve Bharti’s operating performance since it can charge higher tariffs—which is especially important for a market like India where cut-throat competition has impacted not only ARPU but also revenue growth, margins and profitability. Bharti expects its 3G offering to attract customers from rival networks, especially after mobile number portability, which lets users change operators without changing numbers.  Do you see 3G being a game changer in this region?

Light Reading…
Telcos Shift Their Focus
Light Reading kicked off its Service Provider IT (SPIT) event in London this week, and international managing editor Ray Le Maistre found that CSPs are “finally starting to practice what they preach.”

As Ray noted in his video, Heavy Reading analyst Ari Banerjee was also at the event, where he asked CSPs about their areas of focus and plans for the future. Ari found that by 2014, carriers want to deliver a much better customer experience and get services to market more quickly—and many CSPs are beginning to do this by delivering better networks and better services—in different ways—so that they can be disruptive in the market like competitors, such as Google. Ari also saw CSPs put an emphasis on services that tie into people’s social networks and noticed that CSPs are thinking about customer experience before services are brought to market—rather than after. Were you in attendance at the event? If so, do you have any other observations to share?

Around the World

Posted: January 14th, 2011 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Wireless Week
CTIA, RCA Oppose FCC Bill Shock Proposal
Three major wireless industry groups have come out against the FCC’s bill shock proposal – Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the Rural Cellular Association (RCA) and the Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG) all have filed comments opposing the commission’s move to mandate subscribers’ usage alerts and other billing information that will help customers avoid unexpected charges on their monthly bill.  Here’s what the three bodies have to say:

  • CTIA argued that such mandates are unnecessary because carriers already offer customers adequate tools to monitor their usage.  They also claimed that the FCC lacks the authority to impose usage alerts and other information disclosures, and that the proposed rules would violate U.S. First Amendment protections.
  • The RCA said that the FCC’s proposed customer service rules would be unduly burdensome for rural and regional carriers, and that [the] national [ones] were the main culprits behind unexpectedly high wireless bills.
  • Like CTIA, the RTG maintained that carriers would have to reconfigure their billing system to accommodate the new mandate, and it would “impose substantial costs on all carriers and have an inordinately harmful impact on smaller [ones].”

What do you think of these groups’ arguments?  Should the FCC mandate CSPs or let them manage cost control on their own?

Light Reading
Where in the World Is LTE?
To close out 2010, Light Reading compiled a list of the world’s commercial LTE services.  While there is much hype in the industry about the technology, only nine were actually deployed –not including pilot networks or user trials.  Moving forward to 2011, Rethink WirelessCaroline Gabriel noted in a post that the Global mobile Suppliers Association says there are now 180 operators in 70 countries that are deploying, trialling or evaluating LTE; however, these figures mask the fact that most carriers will stick with tests or small scale ‘hotzone’ roll-outs for several years.  Will 2011 be a repeat of 2010 in terms of LTE deployments?  How do you see LTE rolling out this year across the globe

Gathering Momentum
Editor Roger Field reflects back on his conversations with industry experts and believes that the innovations and trends from 2010 will move into the mainstream for 2011 – the key themes he sees in the Middle East and Africa this year are:

  • Consolidation in the operator space, particularly in Africa, because of the low average revenue per user (ARPU) and increased competition
  • Larger strides in broadband deployments to bring subscribers a new level of data services
  • Demand for 4G infrastructures to support consumers’ consumption habits with smartphones and tablets – and even on the fixed side – with IPTV and video-on-demand

While telcos in the region may be facing a decline in mobile and fixed voice ARPU, Roger points out that it is reassuring to see that huge investments are being made in infrastructure, which will allow telcos to offer a new breed of bandwidth-hungry apps – and tap into new revenue streams.