MENA Telecom Challenges: LTE Services, BSS/OSS, and Broadband

MENA region’s telecoms industry is extremely dynamic and growing fast; and it is expected to become more complex during the next five years. At the moment operators are trying to tap into new business opportunities to increase their subscriber base and ARPU by implementing new services. For example 4G services encourage operators to reshape their business strategies to ensure ROI. On the other hand, telecoms are very complex and giant organisations that are promoting innovation to their customers, but not willing to embrace it themselves. Cloud computing, virtual network optimisation, customer-centric approach – few of many things that telecoms should explore and improve in implementing, in MENA region as well. Ahead of the MENA Telecoms Executive Forum, we spoke with Mr. Ahsan Aziz Khan, Executive Vice President, BSS and ESS Applications at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd., about the main challenges of Telecom operators in the MENA region. Additionally, Mr. Khan explains what needs to be done in order to survive, increase revenues and gain a competitive advantage.

MENA region’s telecoms industry is extremely dynamic and growing fast; and it is expected to become more complex during the next five years. At the moment operators are trying to tap into new business opportunities to increase their subscriber base and ARPU by implementing new services. For example 4G services encourage operators to reshape their business strategies to ensure ROI. On the other hand, telecoms are very complex and giant organisations that are promoting innovation to their customers, but not willing to embrace it themselves. Cloud computing, virtual network optimisation, customer-centric approach – few of many things that telecoms should explore and improve in implementing, in MENA region as well.

Ahead of the MENA Telecoms Executive Forum, we spoke with Mr. Ahsan Aziz Khan,  Executive Vice President, BSS and ESS Applications at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd., about  the main challenges of Telecom operators in the MENA region. Additionally, Mr. Khan explains what needs to be done in order to survive, increase revenues and gain a competitive advantage.

 

What are the main challenges and opportunities when trying to monetize LTE Services?

 

It is well known that Telecom operators are under tremendous pressure to improve bottom line. The use of Data is growing and demand for high speed is increasing at tremendous pace. The increase in demand needs huge investments to cope. However, the growth in revenue in that proportion is not sufficient. At the same time revenues from traditional streams are also fading away due to the new OTT services available alternatively.

Consequently, services based upon data are the key for the Telecom operators. Now, it is up to the operators to monetize this opportunity. In my opinion there are two types of challenges. The first is related to the change and evolution of next generation business models and the second is enabling the environment in terms of technology and systems. Combining these two, operators will be able to meet the challenges and exploit the great opportunity which exists.

 

Why is BSS/OSS transformation necessary?

 

BSS/OSS is one of the important ingredients in the Telecom operator infrastructure. It serves as a foundation platform for enabling the new business models for monetizing the LTE and data services.

The new Telco business model looks at monetizing through partnerships with OTT players and other industry verticals. It also looks at launching Digital services as well as enabling the quick launch of new products and services. It also looks at providing self-care and real time capabilities for user devices. Millennial users are ever so demanding and seek the personalized self-configured, self-selected products, services and packages.

Current BSS/OSS are not good enough to enable the new business model and demands of the customers, as it needs to have the characteristics to enable all these requirements. In short, overall IT and BSS/OSS has to be agile, lean, nimble, customizable, adaptable, configurable, and plug and play.

In my view, there is a strong need to transform BSS/OSS to enable the new business model otherwise Telecoms will not have a competitive edge.

 

How are you adopting and converting from traditional telecoms model to innovation-open business?

 

The main characteristics of this conversion are the collaborations and partnerships. We have partnered with content providers and launched many innovative services like OTT TV and security products. Similarly, cloud and many enterprise services are part of the rich portfolio being developed.

 

What are the current broadband trends and challenges in the MENA region?

 

According to a study done by World Bank in 2013, Countries in the MENA Region have identified broadband as a critical factor in the nation building and there is a growing consensus that broadband Internet is critical for fostering sustainable economic development. It is a strategic component of strategy to reduce poverty and enhancing job opportunities.

MENA has a mixed situation meaning there are countries which have very high GDP and countries that have a low GDP.  Eleven out of nineteen countries have developed Broadband strategies and they all have good penetration rate. Mobile broadband penetration has exceeded 25% overall, 50% in eight countries. There are still three countries where there is no broadband. I presume therefore that a lot needs to be done in this retrospect.

According to this World Bank study, development of infrastructure and lack of effective competition are the main hindrances in the growth.

In my view, governments and regulatory authorities need to step forward and address these issues and adopt favorable policies. It is very important for nations to have a solid broadband infrastructure and hence penetration in order to survive in the digital economy.

 

What would you like to achieve by attending the MENA Telecoms Executive Forum?

 

Such conferences always provide lot of interaction and networking opportunities with peers and one can learn from the experience and exposure of industry experts. I am looking forward to this as an opportunity to share my experiences and gain an insight into the others.

 

About the speaker:

 

Mr. Ahsan Aziz Khan is currently the Executive Vice President, BSS and ESS Applications at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited. He is heading the enterprise solutions in PTCL which is the largest service provider in Pakistan with a rich portfolio of products and services. He has been heading BSS and been part of 3 major BSS/OSS and ERP SAP Programs implementation in PTCL. Mr. Khan has Over 20 years’ experience with successful track record of delivering and managing business oriented enterprise solutions. He is passionate about ICT, Transformation and IT Business alignment. Mr. Khan holds a Masters in software engineering, Certified in IT Service Management (ITIL), eTOM Level 2 and Certified Information Systems Auditor.

 

About the event:

 

This marcus evans conference will provide a unique opportunity to hear best practices from market leaders and learn more about telecoms development with the focus on regional challenges and opportunities.

 

The MENA Telecoms Executive Forum conference will take place on the 21-22 January 2015 in Dubai.

 

For more information about the event, please click here or contact

Constandinos Vinall

T: +357 22849 380

E: ConstandinosV@marcusevanscy.com

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