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?”