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Inside Telecommunications - 4Q 2011 trends - Service innovations in the telecoms sector - EY - Global

Inside Telecommunications: 4Q 2011 trends

Service innovations in the
telecoms sector

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Cloud services adoption or consideration by region

While global and regional players are competing to win new business in Asia- Pacific, partnerships are playing an important part in carriers' efforts to extend capabilities.

mHealth offerings on the increase worldwide

Interest in mHealth solutions is growing fast worldwide. There are various drivers for solutions that use mobile devices and networks. Growing health care expenditures, an aging population and the challenge of increasing access to health care in emerging markets will only make mHealth a more important initiative in the future.

Mobile solutions have a unique role to play in specific areas :

  • Remote disease monitoring, which can reduce costs associated with hospital visits.
  • Information- based services provided over SMS or through smartphone apps
  • Clinical collaboration, such as access to patient records

Collaboration underpins the intersection of health care and mobile technologies. In the last quarter of 2011, announcements came from all over the globe about operators forging new partnerships for mHealth propositions.

In December, Verizon Wireless teamed up with the WellPoint health care network to enable mobile videoconference interactions for insurance customers.

In November, Bharti Airtel joined forces with Healthfore — with Fortis Hospitals as Knowledge partner — to launch Mediphone, a phone-based consultation service for its subscribers1. Such partnerships are adding value to different types of end users — insurance customers and mobile subscribers — but operators are also keen to differentiate with mobile services for health care professionals.

Barriers to mHealth implementation, globally

For many operators, injecting mobile capabilities as part of wider eHealth initiatives will be important. For example, in November, AT&T struck a partnership with Calgary Scientific to leverage its ResolutionMD mobile application as part of the US carrier's Medical Imaging and Information Management — a cloud-based service that provides access, storage and sharing of medical images2.

Operators will need to consider how far they wish to handle marketing, distribution and billing of mHealth services, while engagement with mHealth regulators and policy-makers will be crucial.

Rising demand for enterprise services in Asia-Pacific

Opportunities in Asia-Pacific are driving the agenda for many carriers serving large enterprise clients. As multinational corporations (MNCs) ramp up their presence in the region, so their ICT needs are becoming more sophisticated.

At the same time, enterprises headquartered in the region are also expanding abroad, fuelling multiregional needs of their own. Forecasts for enterprise IT spend show 8% growth predicted for Asia-Pacific in 2012, driven by China and India, compared to 3.7% globally3.

Demand for solutions in managed services and cloud computing remains high, as cost efficiency becomes an ever more important consideration.

Recently, global leaders in enterprise connectivity have taken steps to bolster their presence in Asia. In October, BT Global Services opened its second Customer Innovation Showcase center in Shanghai. The center aims to educate customers about the latest product and service offerings4.

In November, Orange Business Services announced the acceleration of its Asia-Pacific strategy, with network enhancements, partnerships, cloud computing and other network-related IT services highlighted as focus areas.

Meanwhile, Verizon Business is expanding its VoIP and unified communications capabilities in the region. In September, it completed a fiber network expansion in Singapore to boost its network coverage and capacity for enterprise and government customers5.

Cloud services adoption or consideration by region

While global and regional players are competing to win new business in Asia-Pacific, partnerships are playing an important part in carriers' efforts to extend capabilities. In November, AT&T and China Telecom struck a deal to share each other's infrastructure in the US and China, with the potential to deploy new services such as managed hosting and cloud offerings.

Benefits to customers include simpler contracting arrangements, higher service levels for MPLS-based services and lower costs6.

Areas where cooperation is particularly important include managed mobility solutions: regional enterprise players are still growing capabilities while global carriers lack relevant in-market assets

Breaking new ground with community-oriented MVNOs

New life is being breathed into the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) model as new entrants look to meet the needs of ethnic and non-native speaker communities in markets worldwide. While the concept of the ethnic MVNO is not new — such services first appeared in Europe some years ago — a recent swathe of agreements and launches suggests renewed opportunities as various factors combine to make the ethnic MVNO market more vibrant than ever.

For one, the international calling card market is migrating to mobile. In the UK, Alpha Telecom launched a mobile service last year to complement its low-cost telephony business. Such moves are spurring a sharp increase in competition — and many feel that the migration away from prepay calling cards has some distance to run yet.

For mobile network owners, there exist opportunities at both retail and wholesale levels. Mobile operators have long favored sub-brands as ways of tapping niche customer segments. However, with interest rising in the ethnic MVNO space, operators are also looking to differentiate from fellow infrastructure owners as wholesale players.

This has resulted in new tie-ups with aggregators and the promotion of additional services around billing and CRM.

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1"Bharti Airtel, Healthfore to launch Mediphone," The Pioneer, 25 November 2011.

2"AT&T Teams with Calgary Scientific to Offer FDA-Cleared Mobile Diagnostic Viewer of Medical Images," Calgary Scientific website, 22 November 2011.

3"APAC tech spend to hit $367B," Gartner, 17 November 2011, via ZDNet Asia

4"BT opens its second Customer Innovation showcase in mainland China," BT Group website, 17 October 2011.

5"Verizon Completes Singapore Fiber Build, Increasing Network Coverage and Doubling Capacity," Verizon Business website, 29 September 2011.

6"AT&T and China Telecom Sign Agreement to Expand Relationship, Deliver Global Solutions to Multinational Companies," AT&T website, 30 November 2011.


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