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GSMA’s Bouverot sends operator-backed open letter to Kroes calling for European reform

Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA

Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA

The director general of the GSMA, Anne Bouverot, has sent an open letter to EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes calling for policy reform that will encourage investment in Europe’s telecoms sector. Bouverot secured endorsements from the CEOs of ten European operators with a combined European mobile customer base of almost three quarters of a billion subscriptions, according to data from Informa’s World Cellular Investors service.

The GSMA said that, despite Europe having the highest regional mobile penetration in the world, it was the only area in which revenues have declined, from €162bn in 2010 to €142bn in 2013. Despite this, the organisation said, “comprehensive policy reform” could enable the European mobile sector to drive investment, improve connectivity and enable innovation.

It is increasingly popular to compare Europe unfavourably with the US and Bouverot’s letter warned that European operators are “facing decreasing revenues and reduced market values compared with oeprators in the US and Asia,” as well as other players in the sector, for which read the internet and OS powerhouses. “This is impairing our ability to invest in the communications infrastructure needed to put Europe back on the path to growth and jobs,” she added.

Bouverot stressed the need for a regulatory overhaul that would enable operators to act unencumbered by “unnecessary layers of regulation”, drive greater harmony across the region and permit operators to consolidate to restructure the market.

She also called for “a level playing field for all”, a statement that again appeared to put internet players in her sights. Even-handed regulation “across the value chain” was needed, she said, as well as “consistent applications of rules irrespective of the technology being used, who is providing the service or where individuals are located.”

Internet players like Google and Facebook (with its recent WhatsApp acquisition) have long been developing services that compete with operators’ core service offerings but attract none of the regulation that comes with a licence to operate a network. Moreover they are driving huge levels of traffic at little or no cost to themselves.

“Operators must have the commercial freedom to develop new business models, innovate at the network and service level, and offer customised services in order to restore the investment climate and drive innovation and competition in the global marketplace,” Bouverot said.

She also called for comprehensive reform of spectrum management policies and a fresh approach to privacy and security issues to improve consumer protection.

While many within the European community look to the leading US operators as evidence that revenue improvements are possible, critics of the US suggest that competition is limited, leaving consumers with too little choice. Meanwhile Kroes’ regulatory reform has focused very much on reducing the costs that must be borne by consumers of mobile telephony.

In recent conversations with Telecoms.com, Hannes Ametstreiter, CEO of Telekom Austria (and one of those name-checked in Bouverot’s letter) and Michel Combes, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, have voiced similar opinions to those expressed by Bouverot.

The letter was endoresed by, Timotheus Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom AG; Christian Salbaing, Deputy Chairman, Hutchison Whampoa Europe; Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO, Orange; Marco Patuano, CEO, Telecom Italia; César Alierta, Executive Chairman and CEO, Telefónica; Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO, Telekom Austria Group; Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Telenor Group and Chairman, GSMA Board; Johan Dennelind, President and CEO, TeliaSonera; Jo Lunder, CEO, VimpelCom; and Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Group.

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Deputy managing director of strategic planning, Nepal Telecom: “IMS and Joyn will open up huge opportunities”

Anoop Bhattarai is deputy managing director of strategic planning for Nepal Telecom

Anoop Bhattarai is deputy managing director of strategic planning for Nepal Telecom and is speaking at the LTE Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Ahead of the conference we speak to him on the main challenges facing him as the company looks to move to LTE.

What are the main challenges you expect to face in the next few years?

I have been appointed co-ordinator of the LTE study and design team in Nepal Telecom and the main challenge will be preparing and deploying LTE between 2013 and 2015 by upgrading our present UMTS, CDMA and WiMAX networks. A pilot LTE project has started in 20 major cities and we have to learn how to market the service with attractive price plans, while making reasonably priced handsets available in the market.

What impact will technologies such as IMS and Joyn have for you?

As the whole communication network is migrating from being voice based to being data based, technologies such as IMS will help leverage the investment that the company has to make [in data]. These technologies will help deliver the communication requirements of the subscribers (voice, picture, videos) in more efficient ways in particular with regard to bandwidth utilisation and QOS, amongst other things. Joyn will a core communication platform for end users and these platforms are developed on top of IP data communication technologies. Thus, as they mature, the combination of technologies such as IMS and Joyn will open up huge opportunities for companies like us.

How important are small cells to your network roll-out plans?

The real high-bandwidth data demand is usually indoors but in these areas the coverage from the outdoor the base transceiver station (BTS) are often not that effective. Therefore the option of having small and dedicated cells focussed on a small group of consumers is usually the best option. Furthermore as various communication delivery and charging models (wifi, 2G, 3G, 4G) can be employed using these small cells, the adoption of small cells will definitely improve the chances of getting a grip on the market. In our deployments, we have already planned to use small cells and will be using the more in upcoming projects

Do you think that VoLTE will have an impact and if so, in what time frame?

Although the trend for voice traffic is decreasing until the day it dies out we have to support voice calls. So we must have support for voice within the framework of LTE through VoLTE and also a handover capability between LTE and WCDMA in both directions. The impact will be clear from the day we deploy the VoLTE with handover capacity.

The LTE Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

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Vodafone India: “The internet was designed to be an open and neutral platform”

Viral Patil is Assistant Manager, Network Quality at Vodafone India

Viral Patil is Assistant Manager, Network Quality at Vodafone India, and is speaking on Day Two of the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands.

What have been the main developments and major milestone for you over the last 12 months with regards to LTE?

The major milestone in last 12 months has been the first time launch of LTE services in India by Airtel. The potential of data services in India is huge and LTE will make mobile broadband services available for Indian customers.

How important are small cells to your network roll-out plans?

Small cells are very important for offloading network data traffic. Considering the limited spectrum allocated to the Indian market, they become a very interesting value proposition.

What impact will technology such as IMS and Joyn have for you?

IMS and Joyn are the technologies that all mobile operators are targeting in the next five years. How these technologies will shape up in India all depends upon user requirements. However, considering user behaviour in India, it is likely that they will be slowly adapted.

Do you think that VoLTE will have an impact and if so, in what time frame?

VoLTE is not going to have much impact, as traditional 2G voice services are available at the cheapest rate in world in India. So even if it’s launched, it faces tough competition in the Indian market.

There has been successful downward pressure on roaming charges within the EU – is this also an issue for you?

As per the new National Telecom Policy 2012 in India, roaming charges are going to be completely eliminated. In the EU, the share of the roaming charges will be taken up by some other value added services.

Do you think that network sharing between operators is necessary to make LTE roll-outs affordable?

Absolutely. It is essential and logical. Network sharing has been successfully implemented in India. Considering the huge geography of India it was inevitable to use it for survival of the service provider.

Net neutrality remains a contentious issue and has recently been enshrined in law in the Netherlands. What is your stance on this?

The internet was designed to be an open and neutral platform for the world to communicate on.

Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

Innovation in true sense has stopped happening in mobile network industry. The reason is that people can live without mobile connectivity but they can’t live without food. So currently the trend of innovation is that a customer wants everything free or at some minimum monthly rental. Innovation to me was the discovery of light bulb by Edison, which truly changed human life drastically. Even with introduction of the mobile phone, people are communicating but that hasn’t changed the way they want to spent their leisure time.

What do you expect to see in the industry in the next 12 months?

In next 12 months I would expect to see more focus on increasing the penetration of mobile broadband services to rural and urban masses of the world. There will be new operators launching LTE services, with some of the older operators trying to provide a better customer experience.

The LTE Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

telecoms.com – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

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