Displaying items by tag: telecom operator

Vodafone’s network was down across Europe on Thursday with thousands of customers unable to use the internet or make phone calls.

Issues began at around 14:42 BST according to network monitor Down detector. Customers all over the UK reported issues and so did customers in Spain, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece and Portugal.

Many customers took to Twitter to express their frustration on the matter.

Vodafone then acknowledged the outage and tweeted, “We are currently investigating a potential outage to our fixed and mobile services. We thank you for your patience as we work to get this resolved.”

The company has around 19.5 million UK customers and around 444 million globally.

Initially, it looked more like an isolated issue with customers in some UK cities thought to have been among those affected; however, Economics Correspondent Paul Cogan at Virgin Media TV noticed that Down Detector showed more maps with even more outages.

He stated, “Vodafone’s problems don’t seem to be restricted to just Europe. Down Detector outage maps show problems in India, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.”

The global disruption was then confirmed when Vodafone Ghana tweeted, “Vodafone Ghana wishes to apologize for the intermittent network challenges experienced by some of our mobile customers. Resolving it remains our topmost priority. We shall keep you updated. Thanks for your patience.”

Vodafone then apologized for the inconvenience and said the services were back to normal. “This issue has now been fully resolved and normal service has been restored to customers. We thank you for your patience and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused.”

The network outage comes a month after Vodafone set its launch date for its new 5G network in seven UK cities.

The company last experienced an outage in October 2018.

Published in Telecom Operators

Ecuador’s Telecommunications Regulation and Control Agency (ARCOTEL) and the GSMA have launched the “We Care Ecuador” campaign to set up local actions by telcos that will help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Operators Claro, CNT EP and Telefónica Movistar have banded together on a coordinated awareness campaign via social networks, digital media and websites to help create a culture of prevention in vulnerable areas and reinforce good practices during emergencies.

The GSMA and ARCOTEL will also work together to step up the fight against handset theft. They will support the ARCOTEL initiative Tu Celular Legal exchanging regional good practices and the global experience of the GSMA IMEI database, a global central database containing basic information on the serial number (IMEI) ranges of millions of mobile devices (e.g. mobile phones, laptop data cards, etc.) in use across the globe.

“As a mobile ecosystem, we’re focusing on supporting communities during crisis or natural disasters and tackling the daily scourge of mobile phone theft, continually aiming to help reach the SDGs by fully leveraging mobile technology,” said Sebastián Cabello, Head of GSMA Latin America.

The mobile industry in Ecuador will jointly work with authorities to improve the disaster preparedness and response, according to the GSMA. During the earthquake in April 2016, the country’s mobile operators mobilized technicians and vehicles to provide satellite phones, water, phone chargers and internet service to affected areas.

They also installed temporary base stations, provided power generators and offered discounts and free calls and texting, among other actions to facilitate communications access to users in affected areas. Ecuador’s Secretary of Risk Management said that by 22 April 2016 (six days after the earthquake), 84 percent of telecommunications had been reestablished in Manabí, and in Esmeraldas and Guayas, they were fully restored.

“Joining “We Care Ecuador” reaffirms our willingness to collaborate and encourage a culture of preparedness and response for situations that can put lives at risk,” said Victor García, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Claro. “The mobile industry contribution to improving people’s quality of life is even more evident in actions that help to improve public safety, both in times of natural disaster and in working with the authorities to tackle handset theft.

José Manuel Casas, CEO of Telefónica Ecuador, said: “I reiterate my gratitude and my pride in the work of everyone at Telefónica and the pledge to the country. In record time we set up vital telecommunications services, sent out vehicles that covered the worst hit areas, provided free calls and built seven Proniño centers to teach, entertain and support children affected by the tragedy. This shows what we’re capable of. If we’re united and focused, we’ll achieve our objectives, fully in line with the SDGs.”

Underscoring the mobile industry commitment to the SDGs, the GSMA “We Care” campaign is an initiative of the region’s leading mobile operators to ensure all their users can enjoy the life-changing benefits of mobile technology in a safe and secure environment.

To achieve this, operators have joined forces as an industry and taken on a series of commitments in every country in the region where mobile phones and networks can provide solutions to social problems.

The initiative has been launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and the Dominican Republic, and will continue to expand across the region.

Published in Telecom Operators

The main challenge facing telecom operators in Africa is competition and regulatory stability, according to Mr. Abdellatif Bouziani, CEO of telecom provider Smart East Africa Group serving Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. Speaking to Telecom Review, Mr. Bouziani said governments in Africa have sold too many operating licenses which have forced prices down, but operating costs remain the same.

Competition is high in the African telecom market, said Mr. Bouziani. With governments selling up to 6-7 telecom operating licenses, operators are forced to lower their prices, but operating costs remain the same, so they must cut spending to survive. But by reducing spending, operators aren’t able to experience growth. When there’s less cash going into countries, big players suffer, and smaller players suffer even more, he said.

Governments in Africa are the big winners in the equation, Mr. Bouziani explained, because they generate revenue from selling the licenses and collecting taxes and fines from the operators. But that puts pressure on emerging players like Smart East Africa which began operating four years ago. Big operators are suffering because they have big costs, and smaller operators are suffering because they cannot grow.

“We have to do business differently now,” Mr. Bouziani told Telecom Review. “We cannot do it the same way we did 5-10 years ago.” Voice is no longer primary, he explained, therefore the industry needs to get closer to the OTT (over-the-top) players to benefit more from them utilizing operators’ networks. Operators need to be a part of the change rather than taking a back seat and watching it happen, he said.

Smart East Africa launched in Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi in 2014 under Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) Kenya, which in turn is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). The operator was launched in the three markets to drive innovation in the market and focus more on the youth segment, Mr. Bouziani said.

AKFED is the sole for-profit agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and works in partnership with international organizations and governments to stimulate the private sectors of developing economies, with the aim of generating capital for investment into long-lasting and sustainable development initiatives.

The organization is essentially a development and investment agency, Mr. Bouziani explained. AKDN holds a 51 percent stake in Smart East Africa while Timeturns, the previous owner of Smart, owns a 49 percent stake.

To stand out in the market, the company implemented an “innovation-friendly” environment to foster knowledge and new ideas. Mr. Bouziani said: “We have to take into account how much telecoms has changed with the introduction of OTT, increasing data usage and value added services. We must ask ourselves: how can we play around with all these things to come up with a business model that allows us to survive in this non-conventional industry?”

In 2014, Smart announced plans to invest US$300 million over the course of five years to expand its telecoms networks and services. The company faces stiff competition, with 17 rival operators combined across Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. The company offers free roaming across the three countries.

Published in Interviews
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 08:42

How can telcos navigate the digital revolution?

Telecom providers face tough times as digitization disrupts traditional business models. In fact, the telecom industry is ranked second after media as most likely to experience major digital disruption, according to a 2015 survey of C-level executives from 15 industries. EITC, the parent company of ‘du’, has responded to the disruption of digitization by embracing it, launching a fully digital mobile service.

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) officially launched the Virgin Mobile brand in the United Arab Emirates on September 5. It’s the first fully digital mobile service launched in the country. The new service offers “simple and transparent technology” and a “unique customer experience” through what the company describes as a fully app-based service.

The Virgin Mobile UAE app signifies a paradigm shift in the mobile industry, digitally designed to simplify life for customers, and the Virgin Mobile distribution model allows customers to download the app and have the SIM card delivered directly to their homes or office. The digital experience gives customers flexibility and convenience, putting control of mobile services back into the customer’s hands.

EITC’s move to create a fully digital service shows that digitization is not just a threat, but also an opportunity for operators to rebuild their market positions, revamp their business systems, and come up with innovative offerings for both existing and new customers. The growth of digital business and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to Gartner research, will drive large investment in IT operations management through 2020.

If telecom operators were to fully embrace digitization, advisory firm McKinsey calculates that it could improve their profits by as much as 35 percent. One of the ways in which telecom operators can bridge the digital gap, according to a McKinsey report, is to drastically revamp IT services. The firm said: “For most operators, streamlining their application landscape and automating their IT infrastructure will need to be a priority.”

Complex and out-of-date IT applications are a “major hindrance” in competing against digital rivals, McKinsey says. The company conducted a study of 80 telecom companies around the world and found that the most successful ones had “removed redundant platforms, automated core processes, and consolidated overlapping capabilities.” Following this method allowed one South American telecom provider to free up the equivalent of 31 percent of its full-time employees.

Another recommended approach by McKinsey, seemingly adopted by EITC with the launch of its new digital mobile service, is putting customers’ needs first and then working backwards by implementing services to meet those needs. Telecom providers need to focus on the customer’s entire experience of the company, rather than seeing customers as a series of touch-points, the report suggests.

The goal is not to digitize multiple elements of a customer’s experience but to deliver a “superior customer experience” with everything gelled into a seamless journey that flows across functions, channels and devices, and where the biggest pain points are identified and eliminated. It’s important for telecom operators to make use of digital technologies across the whole business to “combat declining growth, shrinking margins, and intensifying competition.”

EITC achieved this in the UAE by allowing customers to pick their mobile number without visiting a store, track their data and minute usage in real time, search and choose their favourite mobile number, and set up monthly spend limits, all via the Virgin Mobile UAE app. The subscription-based model means that there is no need for a contract, giving customers the flexibility to decide how they want to communicate without being constrained by specific time bound terms and conditions. 

A $2 trillion opportunity

The digital transformation of telecom companies is so lucrative, that a report by the World Economic Forum says it represents a $2 trillion opportunity for the industry. The next decade of digitization will look markedly different from the past, the report says, and companies across the industry will need to be “well-prepared” to take advantage of the “sweeping transformation taking place in consumer lives, enterprises and the broader economy.”

The 2017 report, titled ‘Digital Transformation Initiative Telecommunications Industry’, looks at the untapped potential for telcos in digital services. The industry has recognized the opportunity that digital services represent, but the players haven’t been able to capture significant value at the scale and speed of digital disruptors, the report says. This is despite the fact that telecom operators have access to several key ingredients, including millions of customer relationships and proprietary data.

Majority of companies have yet to overcome key inhibitors around talent, legacy IT systems and unfavorable regulation, the report adds, in order to compete effectively against digital native companies. Operators’ share of the industry profit pool has declined from 58 percent in 2010 to 47 percent in 2015, and is forecast to drop to 45 percent in 2018. Pressure on traditional revenues, the report claims, means that it’s increasingly important for operators to look at new digital business models.

Another report by AT Kearney says more than 80 percent of telecom executives from South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMENA) believe their future success and growth depends on making fundamental changes to their business and operating models. The report, based on a recent survey of C-level executives from the region’s leading telecom companies, highlights the importance of mastering customer retention and customer base value management to sustain returns.

In terms of new consumer revenue sources, less than one quarter of executives believe that content or digital services will be important, according to the report. For the enterprise segment, though, more than 80 percent of executives believe ICT-related revenue will increase, with the largest potential expected in mobility, cloud, and data center services.

Simultaneously, to sustain competitiveness, telecom operators will continue focusing on operational efficiency, in AT Kearney’s view, although commercial-related costs will be less under scrutiny. The key driver, the report says, is the understanding that significant investments are needed to bring commercial operations into the digital age with upgrades to the customer experience, such as support online sales, self-service via apps, etc.

“Telecom operators in the region are considering a wide range of changes to their operating model,” said Marc Biosca, Partner at AT Kearney. “The customer is at the epicenter of this strategy as most operators and executives in the region believe that a differentiated and superior customer experience is a top priority for long-term success. Providing a seamless customer experience across interfaces has never been more key.”

If there’s one consistent element throughout the reports by AT Kearney, McKinsey, and World Economic Forum, it’s that customers come first and demand digital services that are engaging and convenient. Customers today require an interface that’s simple to use across all channels, and desire efficient 24/7 service. Yet many operators struggle to meet these expectations due to slow design processes, ineffective data collection, and out-of-date IT systems.

To overcome these barriers, McKinsey points out, is to invest in effective customer-relationship-management systems to “track customers’ digital footprints, reduce costs, boost customer satisfaction, and improve brand advocacy and differentiation.”

Published in Reports

Young consumers across Asia Pacific are now the core driver for new communications services and will have an impact on operators’ business, said Zhou Jianjuan, Vice President of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, speaking at the Asia Pacific Emerging Markets Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 29.

Zhou said young consumers today account for more than half of Asia’s fast-growing population and have grown up as mobile phone and computer users with high expectations of technology. Huawei, he said, sees three areas where these young consumers are driving demand for improved digital services that will have a major impact on telcos: Development of new ICT policies, creation of industry ecosystems, and demand for new business solutions.

Operators investing in emerging markets have hit bottlenecks hindering network development, according to Huawei. The results have been slowing revenue growth, inflated costs in network construction, and an unsatisfactory experience in network operation and maintenance.

Operators in emerging markets need to turn this situation around and deliver a better network experience as well as accelerate return on investment (ROI) in emerging markets, the Chinese vendor claims. The three areas Huawei proposes to improve - ICT policies, development of industry ecosystems, and business solutions tailored to customer demand - will help operators make a breakthrough in the current situation, the company said.

"Huawei stands committed to network development in emerging markets, and helping operators identify value customers, develop value services, and build value networks,” Zhou noted. “Together, improved industry policies, reuse of existing networks, and innovation in technology and business strategies will enable operators to increase efficiency and revenue, while creating a positive business cycle with network construction and development of new services.”
Huawei said it works to develop ICT in emerging markets by engaging with governments and regulators to promote policies that favor robust spectrum development and technological evolution. In building industry ecosystems, the company has already seen progress in site FTTx alliances and content aggregation.

In the case of site industry alliances, Huawei said it helps operators leverage existing public assets from governments and tower providers in building a site ecosystem in a manner that shares benefits among all parties involved.

Considering the current situation in emerging markets, Huawei said it’s working with operators to offer a series of innovative business solutions with "User +, Home +, Asset +, Efficiency +" in the following areas to:

  • Increase the efficiency of operations and maintenance to benefit users from different financial backgrounds. This will lead to interconnections that promote economic and social development.
  • Implement fast deployment of broadband to the home and indoor digitization to improve deep coverage and the user experience.
  • Fully leverage existing network and public assets to unleash site potential, and optimize spectrum assets by cloudifying air interface resources to maximize spectral efficiency.

Spark, New Zealand’s leading telecom operator, reported an overall net earnings increase of 13 percent to $418 million, Spark Chairman Mark Verbiest announced on August 18. The results for the year ended 30 June 2017 were in line with expectations and mark further progress in Spark’s long-term digital transformation.

“It’s been another year of relentless focus on delivering for our customers in very competitive retail markets and on positioning Spark well for the digital future,” said Verbiest.

Spark’s revenue growth for FY17 was solid at 3.3 percent taking revenue to $3.614 billion, on the back of continued strong performances in IT services, up 19 percent, and mobile, up 5.6 percent. This performance, together with a continued focus on cost, helped to drive overall EBITDA growth of 3 percent, to $1.016 billion.

Despite the increased EBITDA, costs were up in 2017 compared to 2016, said Verbiest, reflecting higher short-term costs needed to successfully address customer service challenges experienced last year and to manage the workload arising from strong growth in Telecommunications-as-a-Service and IT service contract wins. In addition, there were costs related to the large-scale migration of customers off copper to wireless or fiber, and from Yahoo to SMX email.

“While we’re proud of what we have achieved so far, and we’ve continued to execute our long-term strategy well and deliver good financial results, there are signs that fresh impetus is needed for the next phase of our transformation,” said Verbiest.

Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter said, “Operationally, we have made some big moves. The successful launch of our ‘Upgrade New Zealand’ program saw wireless broadband connections grow to 84,000 (up 72,000), and fiber connections grow to 172,000 (up 73,000) –meaning around 37% of Spark’s broadband base is now off copper.”

Moutter added, “We also successfully migrated 800,000 customer email accounts safely to New Zealand-based provider SMX, and entered new partnerships with Netflix and Spark Arena to complement our Lightbox and Spotify value add-ons.”

The company has seen a strong take-up of Telecommunications-as-a-service offerings to Government with 100+ customers connected to solutions that contribute towards delivering more customer-centric public services, Moutter said. The company also made material improvements in key customer service metrics including call wait times.

“But we still have a long way to go,” Moutter claims. “In an exponentially evolving digital world, where change is the new normal, the complexity of fast-changing technology has customers grappling with the pace of change.

“Meanwhile, customer preference is shifting rapidly to wireless, enabled by high-speed mobile coverage. In mobile and broadband particularly, commoditization pressures mean more and more New Zealanders are buying their mobile or broadband services based primarily on price.

“Increasingly, the companies most likely to win are those that cut through complexity to deliver a highly automated and slick digital self-service customer experience, and who have a simpler proposition to sell, maintain and support than their competitors.”

Over the next few years, Spark plans to put more resources into digitizing and simplifying its products and services to materially lower its cost of operating and put more power into the hands of customers. Spark’s other focus will be to better leveraging its brands, meeting the needs of all parts of the market.

Spark’s third new area of focus will be to meet the growing customer appetite for wireless technologies. Moutter said the company will increase its emphasis on investment in this area to deliver improved mobile and wireless broadband services. “By 2020 we aim to have 85 percent of our broadband customers migrated away from copper onto fiber or wireless technologies,” he said.

Mr. Verbiest said the future looked bright for Spark. “Spark is in a great position to navigate the new digital era. We have a strong balance sheet. We have invested well in fiber and wireless data network leadership,” he said. “Our aim is to accelerate change at Spark, and work hardest where we can make the biggest difference for our customers.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Japanese telco KDDI has deployed a new solution, Kentik Detect, for real-time network operations and planning efficiencies. With Kentik, KDDI gains the ability to make faster operational decisions and frees up engineering teams to spend more time on business innovation.

Telecommunications operators invest billions of dollars on their networks each year to maintain and enhance their service offerings and remain competitive. As part of that investment, network planning is a business-critical function that can significantly increase a telecom operator’s ability to meet customer expectations, capitalize on new market opportunities, and ultimately drive profits.

Rich network data is a key part of effective planning and can inform operators in determining when to launch new services and how to find more cost-efficient ways to deliver higher performance to customers. Yet, most telecom operators struggle to take advantage of their massive streams of network telemetry data.

“At KDDI, we strive to be continuously innovative across our entire organization. However, for our network engineers, that ability was previously held back by the amount of time the team was spending on tracking down answers about our network,” said Toru Maruta, general manager of the IP Network Dept. at KDDI. 

“Given the sheer scale and complexity of our network and the amount of data it generates, network planning analyses often took days to compile. Using Kentik Detect, our team can now access a rich dataset that offers valuable insights about our network within seconds. Kentik gives us the answers we need to build a better network.”

One of the most distinguishing aspects of Kentik Detect that caught KDDI’s attention is the solution’s powerful, intuitive visualization of complex data. Using the Kentik solution, KDDI’s network engineers can easily pivot between visualizations to get multi-dimensional analyses of their network in real time.

 “For the world’s leading telecommunications operators likes KDDI, being able to derive value from their own rich network data is a competitive advantage,” said Avi Freedman, co-founder and CEO of Kentik.

“Organizations that use the fastest, most comprehensive data analytics will drive revenue and performance, and can turn their data into powerful insights that drive better business decisions for them and for their customers. KDDI is one of our fastest-moving customers, and we look forward to our continued partnership as they roll out additional services enabled by network traffic intelligence from their Kentik platform.”

Unlike traditional appliance-based network monitoring tools, Kentik’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) big data network traffic intelligence platform is highly scalable, flexible and fast. With Kentik, telecommunications providers, ISPs, enterprises, and web companies can improve operations, optimize capacity, resolve anomalies, automate DDoS defense, and protect applications and service performance.

Published in Telecom Operators

Vodafone and LG UPlus jointly announced a new Partner Market agreement for South Korea, the first strategic partnership by LG Uplus with a global telecommunications company since the company’s founding in 2010.

Under the new partnership, which commenced on 1 April 2017, Vodafone will draw on its global reach and experience to support the consumer and enterprise operations of LG Uplus.   Vodafone will share best practices with LG Uplus across all areas of their business, including network strategy and development, with LG Uplus benefiting from Vodafone’s knowledge and experience to help improve their customer base management capabilities.

Vodafone and LG Uplus will also cooperate to offer unified communications and enterprise services to multinational companies with a presence in South Korea and internationally.

Vodafone Partner Markets Chief Executive Diego Massidda commented, “Our new partnership will enable LG Uplus to benefit from Vodafone expertise and experience, in addition to access to our global enterprise products and services.  I am delighted that LG Uplus has joined our Partner Market network and I look forward to building on our relationship in the coming years.”

Youngsoo Kwon, Chief Executive for LG Uplus said: “Vodafone is one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies and close cooperation will enable us to streamline and improve our existing business performance and pioneer new areas.  Vodafone is the ideal partner to help our drive to become world-class.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Saudi Arabian telecoms giant Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced the establishment of STV, a technology venture capital fund that aims to achieve its strategic growth aspirations and to help realize Vision 2030’s technological ambitions by investing in new digital areas and by growing the digital innovation ecosystem in the region.

STC believes the Middle East is witnessing a digital transformation that is full of opportunities in the digital economy and digital industries, and that the future involves drastic changes that will disrupt businesses across sectors.

The company has intentions to be a serious world-class player in the space and today STV has been approved with a size of $500 million, making it the largest institutional technology venture capital fund in the Middle East.

STC will have complete independence and will deploy independent governance and operational models that are designed in accordance with international best practices allowing it to leverage STC’s assets to enable its investments and the surrounding ecosystem to grow and scale. STC will be managed by a leading team of top regional and international talent in this field.

"We are very proud of this historic step by STC, which will be a pivotal turning point for the region's technology ecosystem," said Dr. Khaled Biyari, Chief Executive Officer of STC. "Global telecoms have two choices - to either change and evolve into digital companies or to convert into a utility. We have elected to go down the first route. STC has the potential, resources and strategic assets to make a quantum leap in the technology and entrepreneurial sectors it is working on transforming,” Biyari added.

"We believe the region can create its own future and we will invest in the next generation growth engines that will make this happen," said Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, Chief Executive Officer of STC. "The centers of gravity for growth and value across the world’s economies and industries will undergo profound transformations due to technology disruptions, and we believe STC will create value for STC and the region amidst these transformations.”

Published in Finance

PT's fiber optic network has reached Torres Vedras and Mira, as a result of its strategic goal of reaching 5.3 million businesses and homes by 2020. PT Portugal is the largest telecommunications service provider in Portugal. Since June 2, 2015, PT Portugal is a wholly owned subsidiary of Altice Group.

PT has announced the launch of its fiber optic service in Torres Vedras, in the Lisbon district, where close to 17 thousand houses will be served by the largest and most modern network in the country. Also residents of Mira, in the district of Coimbra, will have access to the best global telecommunications experience in Portugal, since there are 6 thousand homes with access to the PT network.

Through the fiber infrastructure, the residents of Torres Vedras and Mira will be able to have access to an ever more complete set of services at home: better image quality with HD content; unlimited number of televisions, no set-top box and internet with guaranteed bandwidth.

In companies, fiber enables access to innovative solutions, new business models with capacity for optimization of resources and expansion into new markets, as well as integrated telecommunications and information technology services, cloud computing, security and internet of things

The arrival of PT fiber optics to these two places provides access to high debit, high quality internet services with options for the consumer segment and for companies.

Published in Telecom Operators
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