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Entries in MAE (4)


MAE: Back to the network

If there were one thing Asia's telco leaders agreed on this morning, it's that the network matters.


“All networks are not built the same,” declared Telstra CEO David Thodey at the Mobile Asia Expo keynote.


China Mobile boss Xi Guohua, saddled with the world's most unloved 3G network, readily agreed.


“Infrastructure is still a core competency of operators,” Xi said. “How can we satisfy the needs of consumers? By building the next generation network."


KT's Suk Chae Lee said he was trying to squeeze out network costs by going all-IP, warning that internet firms were now potential network rivals.


“In the old fixed broadband era, telcos were the only network builders and the cost of building a network was not an issue. However, in the new era, competitors like Google and even Amazon are building their own infrastructure, optimised for delivery of content with software-defined architecture.”


Xi and Thodey agreed that pricing would depend on service quality, in turn a function of the network functionality and investment. “[Consumers] will not be happy just with basic service we provide. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for traditional carriers,” Xi said.


But Thodey said the entire customer experience, from the website to the retail store, was critical.


“It's a serious issue. There's such a demand for service I think we are not creating enough value. Are we doing well and are we creating customer loyalty, or are we just doing the basics?”


KT: Let's build a common market for digital

In an industry struggling to compete with small, fast-moving competitors, KT chairman Suk-Chae Lee found a ready audience with his call for telcos to create a “global common market” for digital commerce.


It may be old wine in new bottles - essentially calling for a kind of super carrier app store - but his keynote speech also came with some warnings.


KT has suffered a 28% fall in voice revenue and 70% decline in SMS volumes over the last four years. 

Repair the window before it rains,” Lee said, quoting a Chinese proverb (in Chinese, which went down well). “When the symptoms become reality it will be too late to do anything.”


Lee urged operators to transform themselves into “producers of virtual goods,” or as “enablers" with some claim on revenue share.


He said telcos needed to think globally to enable them to compete against internet firms.  “Why must telcos remain stagnant and in their home market, while Google and Amazon occupy global markets?”


The industry should heed some of the lessons of the failed WAC venture, he said. Operators needed to be light and agile and able to “compete in a unified global market for virtual goods by aggregating our segmented customers bases.”


He says KT has been trying create a global common market, like an app store, which would become a “new way of distributing virtual goods.”


Lee said he's found willing partners in Japanese and Chinese operators and has drawn interest from other operators as well.


KT has created a single all-IP network to cut costs, enabling it to integrate its entire fixed and mobile customer base, which was previously sorted into 'household' and 'individual'. With a unified base of 25m KT is now offering IPTV service over mobile.

Since upgrading to HTML 5 KT has also tried to position itself as platform for small content providers to distribute their services and content.

“We believe this new approach will allow everyone to become a distributor for virtual goods and at a higher level. It may sound like a long way from current reality but the global broadband market is on our doorstep already.”


GSMA: Customers will sell privacy for cash

GSMA's Mobile Asia Expo, the first major telecom event since the Snowden leaks, offers an excellent opportunity for the biggest industry group to take a leadership role on data protection and offer reassurance to the world's 4 billion-odd mobile users. 


GSMA chairman Franco Bernabè did not take that opportunity this morning, despite devoting half of his keynote to security and privacy.


He acknowledged that with the “unprecedented level of information sharing,” privacy was “one of the most debated issues of our time.” He said it was critical that the mobile industry rise to the challenge.


Bernabè did not elaborate on how that challenge could be met, but he did cite Amdocs research which suggests that consumers would be willing to reveal personal data in return for cash.


That insight offered, he turned to his more important role as pitchman for NFC. His security tip: the SIM will protect your data.


Mobile security becoming 'impossible': Bernabè

GSMA chairman Franco Bernabè sent a warning today about the dangers of the over-the-top (OTT) invasion.


“With emergence of OTT players means security and privacy are becoming increasingly challenging and in some cases impossible,” he said in his keynote.


He said the GSM industry had built in strong privacy and security protections since its infancy, and called on operators to “passionately defend the core elements that have ensured our previous waves of success.”