Hugh S Bradlow, CTO, Telstra is speaking on the smart home revolution on Day Three of the Broadband World Forum 2012, taking place on the 16 – 18 October 2012 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak with him about his views on traffic management and where carriers can add value for consumers.
What were the big milestones for Telstra in the last 12 months?
Last month we announced a dramatic expansion of our 4G service in Australia. Encouraged by reaching over 500,000 4G customers in less than 12 months, we are now set to more than double our 4G coverage area in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, extending to approximately two-thirds of the population within the next ten months.
Where do you stand on bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?
Usage caps have been part of the Australian internet scene since the beginning. Economist J.K. Galbraith once described Australia as the “biggest mistake in position God ever made”, so access to the internet in the early days was constrained by the cost of the overseas links, hence the introduction of usage caps. When users exceed their usage cap on fixed broadband, we may throttle their lines down to dial up speeds. This helps to avoid bill shock and is good usage management practice. We do not currently implement traffic management. However, these practices are increasingly being used by ISPs outside Australia to ensure fair usage of internet resources amongst users.
There is often criticism that ISP and governments are not rolling out networks that are fast enough – but we also hear that few customers are yet paying for higher speeds? Why is there such a disconnect?
Users perceive the value that the applications and services deliver to them. As long as the network does not inhibit the performance or reliability of those applications, they do not perceive the value in the network. It is only when the applications exceed the capability of the network that they see the value in upgrading.
Many see OTT services as a major threat? Do you?
We see OTT services as part of a suite of functionality that delivers value to our customers. As such, we try and ensure that our customers can get access to the services that they desire and require and facilitate this where possible.
Where can the carriers add value for the customer?
The business of carriers is to be service providers—we connect customers to the technology solutions that they want to use. We can add value by creating reliable, consistent, low latency, high throughput network services, by helping customers restore services in the event of inevitable failures and providing them with support through stores, contact centres and online channels and by offering them additional functions and features such as video conferencing services.
Could 4G services affect the demand for superfast fixed line broadband?
Telstra has long said that we view fixed and mobile broadband as complimentary services. There will be a degree of substitution between fixed and mobile services, however, even high speed wireless technologies are a shared access medium and thus less suited than fixed broadband to delivering media-centric services such as high definition video on demand. I believe there will continue to be strong demand for fixed broadband services as the importance of video services continues to grow.
Net neutrality has been enshrined in law in the Netherlands. What’s your stance on this?
My stance is that rigid rules dictating how technically complex systems such as networks, particularly mobile ones, operate would stifle innovation and reduce competition. As long as ISPs are clear and transparent about the way their networks operate, consumers should be allowed to choose the service that best suits their individual needs.
Is there enough innovation in the industry? If so, can you provide examples?
The telco industry by its nature is about making big capital bets so you cannot afford big risks. However, there is plenty of innovation in the industry. To cite a Telstra example, in 2006 we launched our Next G network. At the time we chose to launch WCDMA at 850MHz in order to make our 3G network our coverage network. This was seen as radically different from previous 3G launches where the 2G network remained the coverage network. However, as a result we cover in excess of 99 pre cent of Australia’s population with a 3G network that now has HSPA across the entire network and is more than three times larger in terms of coverage area than our 2G network.
What are the major challenges that you expect to face in the next few years?
I think that everyone in the industry recognises that the biggest challenge is supporting the massive growth in data demand cost effectively. However, I believe that there are some additional challenges: on the mobile side, battery life is becoming a bug bear for many devices, particularly smartphones; network consistency—by which I mean coverage and capacity as well as reliability i.e. the ability to be sure that you will get the network service you need when you need it—is going to be vital, as services increasingly become cloud based. For full service operators such as us, the ability to deliver value to our customers in terms of services and features is also critical.
What are you hoping to get out of attending the Broadband World Forum 2012?
The Broadband World Forum is one of the events on the global calendar where you get a gathering of the whole industry. It is a chance to hear what others are doing, garner ideas for innovation and to meet industry colleagues and share ideas and experiences.
Chief Innovation Officer, Lycamobile: “Development of key applications such as WhatsApp and VoLTE already driving data usage”
Lycamobile is an MVNO that is really going places. Its customers certainly are – all over the world in fact, with the company offering low cost calls in Europe, Asia and now the US. 2014 is certainly set to be a big year for it. Ahead of the 4th annual LTE MENA conference, taking place on the 11th-13th May 2014 at the Conrad, Dubai, UAE, we speak to Vishwanath Madhugiri, Chief Innovation Officer who is speaking on the subject of innovative services as revenue stream for operators on Day One of the LTE MENA conference. Madhugiri explains how even though data usage however is only at a nascent stage. working with Lycamobile gives MNOs access to customers in ethnic communities for which they would otherwise not be able to cater.
Please tell me more about Lycamobile and what makes it unique?
Founded in 2006, Lycamobile is the solution for those who want to connect back home. Currently providing low-cost high-quality international calls to over 30 million customers across 17 countries, Lycamobile’s sheer span, sharp focus on customer service and innovative business model has seen us outgrow our competition; achieving greater coverage of the European population than any other network operator. A Mobile Virtual Network Operator initially developed for the expatriate communities in Europe; Lycamobile has fast become a global brand synonymous with connecting customers with their loved ones across oceans, borders and networks at the cheapest possible price. This is what makes us unique.
You’ve recently launched as an MVNO in Italy? Why did you take this step and do you have plans to extend this to other locations?
In the seven years since the business was founded, our objective and strategy has been to become the largest low-cost international call provider by geography in the world. Over the past 18 months we have invested heavily in expanding our geographical coverage. Italy happens to be our latest launch as a full MVNO. The addition of Germany to our portfolio in 2012 ensured that we have greater coverage of the European market than any other mobile operator. A subsequent move into Ireland and Portugal served to embed our footprint across Europe and extend the service to over 80 per cent of the EU population. Perhaps most significantly, 2013 saw us activate our biggest market launch to date: introducing the service to the US with the promise to bring an unparalleled level of cost and quality of service to American consumers. Set to double our business revenue over the next financial year, Lycamobile USA launched in March as the country’s first full MVNO, operational in 18 states with plans to expand this to 25 states in 18 months. We are now the largest low-cost international call provider by geography in the world. We have identified eight further territories in which we would like to be operating by February 2014 to include Canada and markets in Latin America and Asia. A 5,000 strong global team in February 2013 celebrated reaching the target of €1 billion turnover for 2012/2013. We fully expect these plans to give rise to the doubling of this figure by year end 2014.
You’ve been based primarily around voice rather than data – where does LTE/4G fit into your strategy?
The primary business focus of Lycamobile in all the countries that we operate in is ethnic communities making and receiving International telephone calls. Voice accounts for almost 90 per cent of the Lycamobile mobile traffic presently. However Lycamobile foresees the focus changing rapidly in the next few years driven by more affordable data pricing, faster data-access speeds and the availability of data focused devises. Development of key user-friendly applications such as WhatsApp and VoLTE are already driving data usage growth in the Lycamobile communities and in line with this, the Lycamobile R&D teams have already developed apps to enhance the data-usage experience of the Lycamobile customer. The Lycamobile network, in line with all the other major mobile networks in Europe and the rest of the world is LTE enabled and ready to embrace this exciting new technology.
How can working with you benefit operators?
Lycamobile specialises in addressing ethnic communities and other groups that have specific niche, individual and unique requirements. Many of these communities and groups fall outside the standard marketing focus of the traditional MNOs, making any business that the communities and groups might bring to the MNOs erratic, unsustainable and with high churn rates. Lycamobile, through our enhanced community programs and marketing expertise are able to offer services tailored to fit the communities’ and groups’ specific needs.
The benefit to the MNO is threefold:
1. The MNO gains the ethnic customers that it could not have reached on its network.
2. Lycamobile effectively converts a lumpy and erratic retail revenue stream into a committed wholesale revenue
3. Lycamobile accepts all the risks associated with this churn, thereby reducing the churn KPIs of the host MNO
How will the EU move to eliminate roaming charges impact your future direction?
Lycamobile generates a large amount of traffic that includes roaming traffic in and out of all the 17 countries in which we currently operate. As a key player and the largest ethnic MVNO in a majority of these countries, Lycamobile has a sound strategy with which to factor in these changes. We respect the regulatory environment and fully embrace changes aimed at reducing prices and therefore benefiting our customers.
Why is the LTE MENA conference an important date in your diary?
We are observing exponential innovation and growth in the mobile broadband wireless industry, and LTE MENA is the most important dedicated LTE event in the Middle East. With Lycamobile being a global MVNO and with my background in interdisciplinary innovation across industries, this is a crucial industry forum to showcase Lycamobile’s achievements, to network with industry peers and important stakeholders and to absorb the latest trends.
Over 200 mobile operators surveyed: Almost 90% believe the availability of real-time data in their post paid billing systems is essential to future data charging models but only 22% have the capability today.
Telecoms.com Intelligence carried out research to examine how mobile data billing needs to change in the next 24 months. With responses from over 200 mobile operators, this research paper gives a detailed insight into:
- How new data pricing, packaging and business models will require traditional post-paid billing systems to support real-time data
- The services that operators are going to roll-out that need real-time billing data
- The charging models that real-time data and new network controls will enable operators to bring to market.
Please complete the short form below to download this free report produced by Telecoms.com Intelligence in association with Openet.
Operators will soon be able double mobile broadband speeds for consumers at the edge of a base station cell, by allowing devices to connect with a second base station that serves a neighbouring cell, Nokia Siemens Networks has said.
NSN and Qualcomm will be jointly demonstrating the HSPA+ Multiflow feature at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, next week.
The feature enables the simultaneous transmission of two data streams from two adjacent cells to one single consumer device. Currently, technology on the marketonly enables one data stream to be transmitted to a device from one base station, except for when a user is moving from one cell area to another, when the consumer can benefit from a “soft handover”.
However, NSN claimed that HSPA+ Multiflow can up to double throughput and data speeds for users at cell edge and provide up to 50 per cent faster response compared to existing HSPA+ networks.
The feature is expected to be 3GPP standardised by mid-2012, and will be available commercially from NSN by second half of 2013. Operators will be able to add the feature to their existing HSPA networks with a simple software upgrade, according to the infrastructure vendor.
US operator T-Mobile USA is offering 200MB of free LTE data each month to tablet users across the States, even if they are not already a T-Mobile subscriber.
The operator said that it made the move because 90 per cent of tablets in the US use wifi only, yet they were designed to be truly mobile devices. The free data allowance is the equivalent to sending approximately 800 Instagram photos, more than 2,500 emails or streaming 200 minutes of music, T-Mobile said.
“Tablets are supposed to be un-tethered like smartphones, but it hasn’t worked out that way because people know carriers will charge them an arm-and-a-leg for mobile data,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile.
“Carriers figured out a long time ago that they could make money – a lot of money – by forcing customers into restrictive, overpriced data plans. We changed it for smartphones and we’re changing it for tablets.”
Customers who want to purchase more data have a choice of options with no annual service contracts or data overages. T-Mobile offers daily, weekly and monthly options for adding 4G LTE data.
Speaking at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, Alcatel Lucent corporate CTO Marcus Weldon noted that tablet devices are now processing more data globally than desktop PCs and laptops. He argued that this makes small cells are a vital part of the future broadband network.
“If you look at a tablet, it has no wires and no Ethernet port; if the dominant computing device is wireless that means we have to build capacity not just coverage into the network,” Weldon said. “These devices also have limited storage and rely predominantly on the cloud for storage, so we need high capacity networks. Furthermore, we use our tablets at home, at work and on the go, so we need to build ubiquitous networks that are always on.”