Tag Archives: telecom

5G Frequency Fees Are Waived in Singapore to Help Drive Market Tests

Singapore government has waived telecom frequency fees for 5G trials until December 2019 in order to catalyze market growth and discovery of potential use cases. According to a ZDNet report, industry regulator, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), says this would lower regulatory barriers and encourage industry players to explore potential applications of 5G networks. “Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said such enhancements would be critical to support the deployment of key components such as Internet of Things (IoT), which was one of four technology focus areas IMDA had identified as critical in the nation’s digital transformation. … other focus areas were artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, cybersecurity, and immersive media, which included virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.”

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Be Agile or Be Edged Out: "Live" from TM Forum 2017

I like a conference that’s “Live”. Not just a lively crowd coalescing together to passionately discuss and debate matters of common interests, but more so in the sense of physical presence: things you can feel and touch. In the case of the TM Forum Live! 2017 event, held last week at Nice, France, it’s the Catalyst Pavilions where innovative solutions, best practices, and even exploratory experimentations were on full display.

Do I mean that for an IT Operation Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) trade show, you can touch it? Yep.

“Touching” in the sense that you can see and interact with real tools, platforms, and live demonstrations from live telecom networks, in real life deployments. You can see how concepts are developed into operational tools; you can touch tools that became operational platforms powering network and service convergences for service providers; you can come and visualize how disparate, siloed processes and manual work are being automated and integrated; and you can interact and even challenge why innovations haven’t delivered the results promised.

“Hands-on” is what really grabbed my attention.

IT operations optimization, data analytics, service quality improvements, customer-centric processes, interfaces, APIs — you can touch them all under one roof. That “hands-on” engagement is what makes TMF feel close: touch it, play with it, see how it would apply in your own world. Demonstrations and examples range from IT operation process automation, Quality of Services (QoS) for customer-centric operations models, to the Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, platforms, and APIs.

So much has changed and evolved from the traditional OSS/BSS to what is now the OSS/BSS of the Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) landscape. The stodgy old OSS/BSS is challenged to go through a transformative change, which is driven by the demand for business agility.

Business agility is a reality for any IT department and for service providers who need to survive in a world quickly transformed by increasingly interactive service provider/subscriber relationships. Consumer demand for access is high, leading to fierce competition amongst providers for subscriber loyalty and creating business drivers for fast new service launches, targeted and personalized service packages, easy and on-demand self-service and self-authentication of services, and promotional sign-ons.

As a result, the collaboration between the Chief Marketing Officers’ (CMOs) department, Chief Information Officers’ (CIOs) department and Chief Technology Officers’ (CTOs) department has intensified. IT is no longer satisfied with being handed down business requirements by business groups such as Sales and Marketing and Product Management. IT has to strive to be a business partner. Service providers aligning their organization to achieve business agility are merging their traditional Network Engineering functions and back-office IT organization all under one executive branch of the CTO. The goal is to drive DevOps agility and faster time to deployment.

Leveraging technology to create business agility is easier said than done, as often lamented by people working in the trenches. A lot of it has to do with integrating legacy systems, but it’s also related to what I would call “self-inflicted” processes and workflows built for yesterday’s market and subscribers. Today, the combination of 4G LTE fast speed broadband connections, Google searches that put information at consumers’ fingertips, the omnipresent and accessibility of information as organizations digitize their assets, and the power of video from companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are changing our lives. This reflects and changes the way service providers interact with their target audiences. Business agility is not simply a buzzword, but a matter of survival!

How do I create the stickiness with my existing subscribers? How do I acquire prospective subscribers? How do I entice subscribers to spend more with me? Service providers need solutions to these questions. They need to access data, such as subscriber usage patterns, which turns data into intelligence. Then they can turn intelligence into service packages, show that service package to the most profitable customers, and activate and provision that service package fast, reliably, and securely. Even more, the services need to be available anywhere; when the subscriber is at home, in the car, on the train, in a stadium, or at a concert hall.

Service activation, service provisioning, and automatic provisioning which allows a subscriber to self-authenticate, sign in, or sign up, is at the center of this OSS/BSS transformation.

Over the years, trade shows and presentations are getting more and more colorful charts and diagrams — models updating themselves before we can digest the previous ones. Flow charts and puzzle pieces fly off the wall. What we need is simplification. What we need is a common sense approach to good old fashioned problem solving:

  • Establish the goals
  • Map out roles and responsibilities
  • Identify obstacles
  • Set up checkpoints of the strongest and weakest links
  • Articulate risk mitigation measures

Before we can achieve service orchestration agility, we need to retool our human processes, workflows, and interactions; our “workforce orchestration!”

As I observe and participate in this industry as a technologist, I explore, first and foremost, the role of technology in changing human behaviors and interactions. Technology is a means to the goal instead of the goal itself. It helps facilitate change. Digitization helps drive business process transformation and delivers agility only if human behavior changes. We need to put transparency and collaboration to one of the legs of the success stool.

One has to feel energized coming out of the conference, armed with all of these lessons. The event has always been in a perfect setting, and this year, Nice delivered — three perfect, sunny days. I couldn’t help but sound out “#ILoveNice”, as I took full advantage of the beautiful French Riviera seaside scenery for my daily morning runs.

We’ll be back next year!

Written by William L. Yan, Chief Operating Officer at Incognito Software Systems

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Hidden in Plain Sight: FCC Chairman Pai’s Strategy to Consolidate the U.S. Wireless Marketplace

While couched in noble terms of promoting competition, innovation and freedom, the FCC soon will combine two initiatives that will enhance the likelihood that Sprint and T-Mobile will stop operating as separate companies within 18 months. In the same manner at the regulatory approval of airline mergers, the FCC will make all sorts of conclusions sorely lacking empirical evidence and common sense.

FCC Chairman Pai’s game plan starts with a report to Congress that the wireless marketplace is robustly competitive. The Commission can then leverage its marketplace assessment to conclude that even a further concentration in an already massively concentrated industry will not matter. Virtually overnight, the remaining firms will have far less incentives to enhance the value proposition for subscribers as T-Mobile and Sprint have done much to the chagrin of their larger, innovation-free competitors AT&T and Verizon who control over 67% of the market and serve about 275 million of the nation’s 405 million subscribers.

Like so many predecessors of both political parties, Chairman Pai will overplay his hand and distort markets by reducing competition and innovation much to the detriment of consumers. He can get away with this strategy if reviewing courts fail to apply the rule of law and reject results-driven decision making that lacks unimpeachable evidence supporting the harm free consolidation of the wireless marketplace. Adding to the likely of successful overreach, is the possibility of a muted response in the court of public opinion.

So how will the Pai strategy play out? First, the FCC soon will invite interested parties to provide evidence supporting or opposing a stated intent to deem the wireless marketplace sufficiently accessible and affordable throughout the nation. The FCC has lots of evidence to support its conclusion, but plenty of countervailing and inconvenient facts warrant a conditional conclusion, particularly in light of future market consolidation. Wireless carriers have invested billions in network infrastructure and spectrum. Rates have significantly declined as the industry has acquired scale and near full market penetration. Bear in mind that all of this success has occurred despite, or possibly because of a federal law requiring the FCC to treat wireless carriers as public utility telephone companies. Congress opted to treat wireless telephone service as common carriage, not because of market dominance, but because it wanted to maintain regulatory parity with wireline telephone service as well as apply essential consumer safeguards.

How ironic — perhaps hypocritical — of Chairman Pai and others who surely know better to characterize this responsibility as the product of overzealous FCC regulation that has severely disrupted and harmed ventures providing wireless services. Just how has common carrier regulation created investment disincentives for wireless carriers when operating as telephone companies? Put another way, how would removal of the consumer safeguards built into congressionally-mandated regulatory safeguards unleash more capital investment, innovation and competitive juices?

U.S. wireless carriers regularly report robust earning and average revenue per user that rival any carrier worldwide. Of course industry consolidation would further improve margins while relaxation of network neutrality and privacy protection safeguards would create new profit centers. T-Mobile shareholders get a big payout, while the remaining carriers breath a sigh of relief that their exhaustively competitive days are over.

Will the court of public opinion detect and reject the FCC’s bogus conclusion that common carrier regulation has thwarted wireless investment and innovation? That requires a lot of vigilance and memories of the bad old days when no carrier opted to play the role of maverick innovator and marketplace disrupter. With T-Mobile or Sprint merged or acquired, the remaining ventures have ever more incentives not to spend sleepless afternoons competing and devising new ways to stimulate customer interest in changing carriers. T-Mobile and Sprint have offered just about every value enhancement in recent years such as carry forward minutes, reduced roaming charges, unlimited service, new bundles and use your own device at much lower monthly rates. Would these options exist if only three carriers served 95% of the market?

If you think the recent spate of airline mergers has enhanced competition and the air travel experience, then a wireless marketplace with 3 national carriers will work out just peachy.

Written by Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunications and Law

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Hidden in Plain Sight: FCC Chairman Pai’s Strategy to Consolidate the U.S. Wireless Marketplace

While couched in noble terms of promoting competition, innovation and freedom, the FCC soon will combine two initiatives that will enhance the likelihood that Sprint and T-Mobile will stop operating as separate companies within 18 months. In the same manner at the regulatory approval of airline mergers, the FCC will make all sorts of conclusions sorely lacking empirical evidence and common sense.

FCC Chairman Pai’s game plan starts with a report to Congress that the wireless marketplace is robustly competitive. The Commission can then leverage its marketplace assessment to conclude that even a further concentration in an already massively concentrated industry will not matter. Virtually overnight, the remaining firms will have far less incentives to enhance the value proposition for subscribers as T-Mobile and Sprint have done much to the chagrin of their larger, innovation-free competitors AT&T and Verizon who control over 67% of the market and serve about 275 million of the nation’s 405 million subscribers.

Like so many predecessors of both political parties, Chairman Pai will overplay his hand and distort markets by reducing competition and innovation much to the detriment of consumers. He can get away with this strategy if reviewing courts fail to apply the rule of law and reject results-driven decision making that lacks unimpeachable evidence supporting the harm free consolidation of the wireless marketplace. Adding to the likely of successful overreach, is the possibility of a muted response in the court of public opinion.

So how will the Pai strategy play out? First, the FCC soon will invite interested parties to provide evidence supporting or opposing a stated intent to deem the wireless marketplace sufficiently accessible and affordable throughout the nation. The FCC has lots of evidence to support its conclusion, but plenty of countervailing and inconvenient facts warrant a conditional conclusion, particularly in light of future market consolidation. Wireless carriers have invested billions in network infrastructure and spectrum. Rates have significantly declined as the industry has acquired scale and near full market penetration. Bear in mind that all of this success has occurred despite, or possibly because of a federal law requiring the FCC to treat wireless carriers as public utility telephone companies. Congress opted to treat wireless telephone service as common carriage, not because of market dominance, but because it wanted to maintain regulatory parity with wireline telephone service as well as apply essential consumer safeguards.

How ironic — perhaps hypocritical — of Chairman Pai and others who surely know better to characterize this responsibility as the product of overzealous FCC regulation that has severely disrupted and harmed ventures providing wireless services. Just how has common carrier regulation created investment disincentives for wireless carriers when operating as telephone companies? Put another way, how would removal of the consumer safeguards built into congressionally-mandated regulatory safeguards unleash more capital investment, innovation and competitive juices?

U.S. wireless carriers regularly report robust earning and average revenue per user that rival any carrier worldwide. Of course industry consolidation would further improve margins while relaxation of network neutrality and privacy protection safeguards would create new profit centers. T-Mobile shareholders get a big payout, while the remaining carriers breath a sigh of relief that their exhaustively competitive days are over.

Will the court of public opinion detect and reject the FCC’s bogus conclusion that common carrier regulation has thwarted wireless investment and innovation? That requires a lot of vigilance and memories of the bad old days when no carrier opted to play the role of maverick innovator and marketplace disrupter. With T-Mobile or Sprint merged or acquired, the remaining ventures have ever more incentives not to spend sleepless afternoons competing and devising new ways to stimulate customer interest in changing carriers. T-Mobile and Sprint have offered just about every value enhancement in recent years such as carry forward minutes, reduced roaming charges, unlimited service, new bundles and use your own device at much lower monthly rates. Would these options exist if only three carriers served 95% of the market?

If you think the recent spate of airline mergers has enhanced competition and the air travel experience, then a wireless marketplace with 3 national carriers will work out just peachy.

Written by Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunications and Law

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Telecoms Competition on a Downhill Slide in America

That is what happens when you base your telecommunications policies on the wrong foundations.

The problems with the telecommunications industry in America go back to 1996 when the FCC decided that broadband in America should be classified as internet (being content) and that therefore it would not fall under the normal telecommunication regulations. Suddenly what are known as telecommunications common carriers in other parts of the world became ISPs in the USA. How odd is that?

This is rather incomprehensible since, to the rest of the world, it is very clear that broadband is an access product and has nothing to do with the internet as such — and most certainly nothing to do with content!

While nothing to do with this topic, it is also important to mention that in exchange for these generous gifts from the FCC the incumbents promised to fibre up America. Over the last 20 years such promises were made again and again, and every time these promises were broken with no retributive action from the FCC whatsoever.

And — surprise, surprise — in the resulting monopolistic situation — the incumbents used their newly won classification as ISPs to their own advantage.

As an immediate result retail-based broadband services were monopolised by Verizon and AT&T. There was no longer any obligation on their part to make broadband available on a wholesale basis, and as a consequence, there is very little retail-based broadband competition in the USA. It has to be said that the very weak regulation in place before 1996 made it very difficult for retail broadband providers to obtain affordable wholesale rates from the carriers. But the classification as broadband being content totally killed the DSL retail market, and within a year all those DSL retail providers were all dead and buried.

The door was now also open for the incumbents to look for extra revenues that they could extract from the big digital media content providers by offering preferential treatment over their broadband infrastructure. This would create a high-speed internet lane for these companies and put the rest in a second-rate slow broadband lane.

This generated a public outcry, and as a result, the FCC had to introduce what is known as net neutrality (NN), which stopped the incumbents from creating fast and slow lanes. NN was an attempt by the then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to keep the internet open.

Now I am certainly not in favour of net neutrality, and in principle, I don’t have a problem with telecommunications providers offering managed network services at premium prices to business users and others, but it needs to be provided in the context of a competitive environment. With competition in place, the costs of these managed services will be kept in control; some providers will concentrate on business users and others on residential services, so competition will keep misuse in check. When you don’t have such a competitive environment, it would be very dangerous to just let incumbents do and charge whatever they want.

It would, of course, be far better if the USA were to address the underlying issues and do what every other country in the world does — classify broadband as a telecommunications access service and regulate it — with proper wholesale requirements — under such a regime, in which case there would be no need to bolt NN onto the regulatory regime.

However there is no hope whatsoever under the current government in the USA that such a broader telecommunications review is possible; and certainly not under the leadership of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (an ex-Verizon executive and a conservative Republican).

One of the key arguments Pai is using on why he wants to dismantle NN is that it reduces investments in the telecoms market. However, both Verizon and AT&T are on the record that this not the case, they have publically indicated that NN has not slowed down their investments.

Pai might be a likable and charismatic person, but he is totally committed to a nearly uncontrolled telecoms market. He strongly believes that as much regulation as possible should be abandoned (he also abandoned consumer privacy in relation to customer data held by the industry). He totally ignores the fact that the American market is one of the most monopolistic telecoms markets in the developed economies. I am all in favour of free market principles but not under a regime that only fosters monopolies that pay hundreds of millions of dollars to influence politicians right across the American political landscape, in order to get their way.

So, while, in general terms, I am not in favour of NN, in the case of the USA, it is one of the few regulatory tools available to keep the telecommunications monopolies in check. Unless the underlying competition issues are addressed, I would keep NN in place.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

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