Inside Telecommunications - Issue 13
In this issue, we consider a number of industry themes, from innovations in LTE broadcast and roaming services to the latest developments in data protection regulatory frameworks and submarine cable systems.
Global Telecommunications Leader
The telecommunications sector has evolved in various directions in the first three months of 2014, with mobile operators keen to outline their strategies for an increasingly digital world at Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC 2014). Issues surrounding customer security and privacy are being hotly debated, while regulatory attitudes to consolidation remain a key sector talking point.
This year’s Mobile World Congress event boasted record attendance, with more than 85,000 people visiting the Barcelona event. The mobile industry’s annual gathering serves as a unique platform for mobile operators and vendors to showcase their latest products while volunteering the latest in industry thinking, and a number of key themes emerged during a busy week.
Foremost was the positive note struck by operators as they contemplate a widening landscape of over-the-top (OTT) service providers. Historically, mobile operators have viewed mobile instant messaging’s impact on SMS revenue streams with anxiety, yet MWC 2014 witnessed a palpable change in sentiment, with service providers advertising their willingness to partner with OTTs in order to provide more attractive monthly packages and improve the customer experience.
Successful big data propositions will hinge on reassuring customers and partners that data is being stored, collected and repurposed in ways that safeguard digital rights while providing direct benefits to end users themselves.
In this light, mobile operators, device vendors and actors in adjacent industries will need to highlight the roles they can play as data custodians, particularly as regulatory frameworks regarding data protection, retention and sovereignty are revised in new ways.
Operators are also keen to improve their agility in a digital world, and MWC 2014 saw a number of industry players stress the importance of evolving network architectures. Network functions virtualization (NFV) projects can give operators the ability to simulate network resources, decoupling and optimizing different network functions to support fixed-mobile convergence and more flexible service provisioning, for example.
As mobile players consider new service use cases, partnering scenarios and network concepts, they nevertheless face continuing uncertainties in the regulatory environment. Rules surrounding customer data retention and net neutrality are in flux, while operators in Europe remain critical of what they see as barriers to consolidation, which they believe could help offset a congested competitive landscape and stimulate greater levels of network investment.
Despite the EU’s prospective single market reform package, operators see in-market merger assessments as an impediment to more rational market structures. As such, all eyes will be on the EU antitrust body’s forthcoming reviews of planned mobile mergers in Germany and Ireland.
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