Telecom 2020: Growth Drivers and Trends

Telecom 2020: Growth Drivers and Trends

Telecom 2020: Growth Drivers and Trends

 

10th of February 2020

One thing is certain in 2020: if telcos want to embrace new technologies that promise to revolutionize the industry, they will need to invest in infrastructure that enables them to support and monetize these technologies. According to a recent global EY report, telcos will pump more into overhauling their conventional IT infrastructure, making digital transformation a major driver this year.

This new infrastructure paves the way for a host of advanced customer-focused technologies: 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), to name a few. Which ones are right for you and how can you maximize your chances of success? There’s no one answer: the key is finding the right mix of offering relevant to your market and context.

 

mobile money profitability

An analysis from Telecoms CAPEX: Worldwide Trends and Forecasts 2017-2025 shows that digitalization and 5G will be the key drivers affecting CAPEX growth.

Technologies transforming telecom

Here’s a roundup of the year’s biggest trends and what they could mean for you:

5G
Higher speeds and lower latency mean that 5G supports use cases like immersive content (augmented reality, virtual reality) and high-resolution video, helping CSPs deliver an unmatched customer experience to gain a competitive edge. As 5G progresses towards large-scale commercial viability, service providers have begun trials of new use cases, and the results are encouraging them to readily adopt the next-gen technology. As more devices and use cases become viable, the revenue potential continues to grow along with the need for flexible IT systems to support them.

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing in the telecom sector relies heavily on the adoption of data and logic separation principles, SDN/NFV, DevOps, microservices, and more. It gives telcos the flexibility to acquire the corresponding services – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), which extensively increases scalability, standardization, self-service automation, and reduces operational costs. Telecom players should adapt their IT processes and prepare for related security implications such as identity theft, unauthorized access, relinquished governance and compliance policies, data security and breach of privacy, as well as inconsistency across on-premise and cloud platforms. A recent Telecoms.com report predicts that 5G will mean wide-scale adoption of edge computing. The market is quickly evolving from a centralized to a distributed cloud, and it is expected that this year, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be processed outside of centralized data centers.

Artificial Intelligence
From virtual assistants and chatbots to knowledge engineering, smart machines, and autonomous vehicles, AI has the potential to replicate human cognitive capabilities. It will help telecom service providers offer a transformational customer experience while they manage, optimize, and monetize their infrastructure using different business models. Use cases include network optimization, predictive maintenance, virtual assistants, RPA, and many more.

Blockchain
Blockchain is a gamechanger for securely conducting business with third-parties while reducing costs and increasing revenue. CSPs can leverage blockchain to offer new services using tamperproof transaction management and automated contracting. Applications include 5G enablement, mobile financial services, data management, fraud management, identity management, instantaneous connectivity and transaction, IoT connectivity, number portability, roaming, and more.

Internet of Things
IoT will, in conjunction with 4G and 5G, change how people communicate and interact with technologies opening up new revenue streams for service providers. It is an essential part of capturing and transmitting data to power smart city use cases like smart lighting, smart grids, heating, and lighting. Telcos are applying IoT to home automation and wearable devices to enhance their overall customer experiences. In the coming years, IoT smart sensors will be implemented in gaming environments, healthcare, personal fitness goals, sports, and more.

Cyber Resilience
The telecom industry has always been the most vulnerable target for cyberattacks given the vast amounts of sensitive data stored on various complex networks. A few years ago, for instance, one of the more significant attacks compromised the personal details of 157,000 TalkTalk customers. 5G brings its own set of security threats, and telcos need to prepare for any kind of direct or indirect cyber attack. This means building adequate IT infrastructure and pairing it with talent and processes to support resiliency. Effective cybersecurity must include the implementation of threat detection, incident response methods, and prevention methods.

How to seize these opportunities

Start your digital transformation journey now

A recent report predicts that the OSS/BSS market is expected to grow from USD 2.77 billion in 2019 to USD 8.78 billion by 2026, indicating a significant potential for telcos to support diverse digital services than limited traditional services. To ensure successful digital transformation, CSPs need to upgrade to digital BSS, which can be implemented in phases to pace out investment. This helps operators seize data opportunities as the market evolves and ensures quick time-to-market, monetization, and smooth management of the latest communications services. A next-gen digital BSS stack also facilitates high-value 5G use cases, including IoT (management and offers), and experience-based charging.

Invest in 5G infrastructure
As 5G permeates, mobile operators will need to invest significantly in 5G infrastructure to deliver high data speed, low latency, and to support billions of connected devices. Besides the billions being spent on 5G RAN, the 5G Core is an important investment. 5G Core with cloud-native features expands the service capabilities of telcos; provides scalability and agility; supports 5G network protocols including extensive use of REST APIs and eases migration to service-based architecture.

Ensure strict regulatory policies
According to Statista.com, the number of devices connected to the IoT is expected to reach 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. IoT-enabled networks are more vulnerable to major cyber invasions and crimes. Insufficiently protected devices such as laptops, tablets, routers, webcams, smartwatches, automobiles, and home security systems can be turned into weapons by hackers, cybercriminals, or hostile organizations and states, so it’s essential to implement adequate cybersecurity measures.

Overcome network coverage issues
Having reliable 5G network coverage will require a massive investment of time and finances. Operators can resolve network coverage issues by taking these measures:

Infrastructure sharing alleviates network coverage issues and helps operators deliver better connectivity and network performance by pooling resources to maximize coverage buildout.

The open radio access network (O-RAN) movement is separating the software and physical layers of RAN, eliminating vendor lock-in and allowing budgets to go much further in procuring equipment.

Network monitoring tools remain a powerful mechanism to resolve network issues. These tools provide real-time alerts to the concerned teams when there is downtime, device unavailability, performance issues, or any deviation from an accepted network baseline. Further, network configuration management tools help track any changes in settings and send alerts in case of unauthorized changes while providing a mechanism to roll back to earlier settings.

Also, Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi)/WiFi Calling helps overcome the challenges faced by subscribers due to poor or no network coverage. VoWiFi helps customers make calls and remain always-connected, increasing the quality of services and customer experience.

Automate inventory management
One of the major challenges operators face with 5G is managing billions of IoT devices. Further, with evolving technologies, the CSPs having diverse partnerships require constant efforts to manage and allocate resources and inventory. Inefficient management could lead to complicated and faulty invoices, increased risk of fraud, data breaches, insecure network endpoints, and revenue losses. To avoid these complications, CSPs should have a universal system with legacy and new automated inventory tools, which also maintain an inventory of virtual networking components and logical networks like network slices. Subsequently, deploying a next-gen inventory management system provides real-time inventory information with factual and predictive data, helping make quick allocation decisions that ensure the conservation of investment and help gain an edge over competitors.

Manage partnerships efficiently
CSPs need real-time billing and policy control capabilities to seize and monetize opportunities that all-IP 5G means new devices, use cases, partnerships, business models. This calls for diverse partnerships inherent in wholesale and 5G networks. With growing complexities of managing diverse partners, it multiplies the challenges to efficiently manage several partners like wholesale, interconnect and roaming partners, OTT/content players, distributors, MVNO, affiliates, and agents. Deploying end-to-end partner management and settlement solution (PMSS) helps operators smoothly and flawlessly manage the complete partner lifecycle and support distinct agreement policies, revenue models, and settlement modes. PMSS plays a vital role in the 5G business and has the highest potential to launch innovative 5G billing use cases like network slicing, device-based experiences, converged offerings, and more.

Digitize customer experience
A Walker study suggests that by 2020, customer experience (CX) will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Enhancing and digitizing the customer experience should top the list for every forward-thinking telco. 5G and IoT will likely emerge as the new battleground, with operators keen to employ new digital business models. And as expectations cross industry boundaries, telcos must remain focused on redefining the CX with more innovation, such as deploying AI-based tools and omnichannel support.

Be prepared for what’s next

5G is expected to significantly change the face of telecommunications. The three main use cases of 5G – Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine-type Communications (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) – promise to deliver superfast wireless connectivity, lower latency, and digital innovations. And while it is expected to revolutionize the customer experience, 5G will stimulate the demand for next-gen devices, adding to severe network densification. With this forecast, CSPs have huge revenue potential from their retail and enterprise clients by digitalizing the customer experience. Additionally, they can offer B2B and B2C clients an enhanced spectrum of services such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and a host of other leading-edge next-gen services. Operators can unveil the monetization opportunities that 5G promises and achieve a high-level of orchestration and automation with a robust 5G Core solution along with a modern digital BSS stack.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

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Blockchain and the Future of Mobile Money

Blockchain and the Future of Mobile Money

Blockchain and the Future of Mobile Money

12th of February 2019

As the hype dissipates around cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin the question remains: what relevance does the underlying blockchain technology have in an increasingly digitized world?

Mobile money has relied on traditional modes of establishing trust: you trust a mobile operator to take your cash in return for a digital representation of that cash, the government trusts the operator to maintain liquidity, the operator trusts the bank to retain that liquidity, and so forth.

This model of trust was enough to support the explosive growth of mobile financial services, but will it be enough to sustain it? Today’s mobile money operators contend with complex and competitive ecosystems, increasing regulatory pressures, and high costs, particularly for cross-border remittances.

Many of these challenges can be addressed with blockchain. It allows crucial digital relationships to grow organically with the rules for transacting being shared among participating organizations and the ledger for those transactions being cryptographically secure, immutable, and mutually verifiable. In short, it facilitates trust in the digital era.

Blockchain opens doors to new opportunities by providing a platform for:

  • Partnerships with organizations that provide a share of liquidity
  • Building KYC and AML regulations into the rules for transacting
  • Auditability: allowing governments and internal auditors access to their own cryptographically verifiable copy of an immutable ledger

These are among some of the properties of blockchain that have made it enticing for mobile money. But other properties make it less so:

  • Poor performance and scalability
  • Difficult to use for analytics and business intelligence
  • Lack of control over which parties can participate or view which transactions
  • Cumbersome and complex infrastructure requirements

Many of these issues can be overcome by using a private enterprise blockchain, which avoids intensive consensus mechanisms and provides enterprise control over access and a richer set of query interfaces into the blockchain. Implementation, however, is still a massive challenge because of the lack of skill and stable APIs into the various blockchain technologies.

How do we know this?

We’ve encountered these challenges implementing blockchain into our Digital Payments platform. To address them, we have created a REST API gateway that insulates the core mobile money systems from changes in the underlying blockchain technology and automated and simplified the provisioning of blockchain resources, making them run in both private and public cloud. We believe we have created a feasible and desirable mobile money system that adds the benefits of blockchain, without the complexity and with the performance to scale.

While, of course, we are hoping to sell our platform, we are also keen to engage and discuss your experiences and requirements from blockchain, as it is still a new and evolving domain.

If you’d like to know more about Alepo Mobile Money and how we got there, join us for a demo at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona from February 25-28, 2019 at booth 5H71. Click here to schedule a meeting.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Mobile Financial Solutions

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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High Circulation Ratio Is Key to Mobile Money Profitability – Here’s How to Improve It

High Circulation Ratio Is Key to Mobile Money Profitability – Here’s How to Improve It

High Circulation Ratio Is Key to Mobile Money Profitability – Here’s How to Improve It

14th of June 2018
Every day, the mobile money industry processes over $1 billion and generates direct revenues exceeding $2.4 billion yearly, according to GSMA’s 2017 State of the Industry report. In fact, mobile money transactions in Kenya have now exceeded the country’s gross domestic product according to estimates by ICTworks. No small feat for a platform introduced a little over a decade ago in the African nation where today, five operators coexist.

The poster child of mobile money success, Kenya demonstrates the massive scope for the platform as an enabler of economic growth. Mobile money platform like Alepo Digital Payments has enabled financial inclusion of millions of people by empowering them with digital financial services.

Without taking away from its unparalleled success, it is important to note that mPESA – at the forefront of Kenya’s mobile money revolution – entered a largely unbanked market, with minimal competition, relied heavily on agents for transactions, and used first-generation, feature phones as the main conduit of transactions. Whether in the developed or developing world, few parallel examples remain. Today, operators must organically build complex and varied ecosystems to attract money into the platform and creating incentives to remain in the system.

The key measure of how useful money is within a given mobile money ecosystem is the digital circulation ratio. A measure of how many times money is transacted before being cashed out.

Simply put, increasing the digital circulation ratio involves increasing reasons to enter and stay in the system.

More options for the consumer

The most straightforward way of increasing the digital circulation ratio is to offer customers more ways to spend, giving them the incentive to use their mobile wallets more frequently for a variety of purposes. Traditional options like bill payments and money transfer remain significant, but there is also scope for more complex transactions. Some of these include:

  • Buying insurance plans
  • Mutual funds
  • Government subsidy distribution
  • Payments to enterprises (college fees, for instance)
  • Saving money (micro savings)
  • Microloans

Using a mobile money platform helps people build their credit scores, making them eligible for microloans through financial institutions. The score is calculated based on the transaction type, history, transaction value, location, services used, frequency of use, and so on.

Extending services to merchants, enterprises

GSMA states that in 2017, digital circulation averaged 1.6x. However, deployments that successfully scale merchant payments have a ratio closer to 4x. Further, the most successful providers are those whose platforms offer a vast payments ecosystem; each one, on average, is integrated with seven banks, at least 90 billers and 30 organizations for bulk disbursements, and 6,500 merchants.

It is business to business (B2B) and business to business to consumer (B2B2C) models that are fundamental to this success. These capabilities help expand the available vectors into the system, while providing more reasons for them to remain within. Some of these include:

  • Retailer payments to suppliers: Suppliers now become part of the system by virtue of receiving payments.
  • Supplier payments to enterprise: By having the option of making payments through the platform, the suppliers remain within the system instead of cashing out once they receive payments.
  • Enterprises disbursing promotional cashbacks or employee salaries: Now, the enterprise has reason to continue using its money through the system.

Building such business lines requires high flexibility, not only to create different rules and policies for each business line, but also to provide business entities with internal autonomy. Flexibility provides capability, but to turn it into opportunity, the vital factor is trust. Thankfully, trust can be mediated using private blockchain.

The potential of blockchain

In creating a more diverse and complex ecosystem, it is essential to bring in major partners such as government agencies, large corporations, non-profits, and various other entities – all of which must command trust. How is trust between various entities facilitated? The answer is blockchain, where a tamper-proof ledger of all financial transactions is maintained by and shared between selected partners.

At Alepo, we strongly believe that the ability to easily roll out blockchains to partners could be a game-changer. While fully decentralized blockchain-based mobile money systems have limited appeal owing to lengthy transaction times and increased costs, private blockchains can help to create highly regulated and trustworthy relationships between various major entities that participate in the ecosystem. In such an environment, the blockchain ledger is only shared with select third parties and is opaque to other participants in the system.

Diversity and innovation are the future

Mobile money systems need to create opportunities at every level and build their own ecologies, rather than relying on tapping into societal and/or economic factors. They need to have advanced partner and business channel management, flexibility in how these channels are monetized, as well as capabilities to monetize customer data itself through innovative services such as microloans. As the systems become more diverse and complex, there is a diversity in monetization methods that can be employed – analytics, advertising, revenue-share models, and more. For the success of any system, it is crucial to choose a platform that can support different business models and multilayer disbursements.

mobile money profitability

A varied ecosystem can drive up the circulation ratio

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Mobile Financial Solutions

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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