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The New Rules for Designing Fixed-Mobile Bundles: Winning with Convergence

August 26, 2014 Comments off

The New Rules for Designing Fixed-Mobile Bundles: Winning with Convergence
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Convergence and integrated telcos go way back, but the relationship has often been a rocky one. In theory, convergence offers—packages that leverage an operator’s fixed and mobile assets—have long been tempting propositions. If all of a subscriber’s needs could be met with one basket of services, customers could be steered away from other providers. Market share and revenues would rise, churn would decrease—what could go wrong? In practice, plenty.

Traditionally, most convergence offers were built around very simply discounted bundles that prompted customers to buy more and save. Telcos would slap together their existing fixed and mobile plans and shave some dollars off the price. But competitors could easily replicate such bundles, shaving still more off the cost. The resulting price war eroded margins, and even the telcos that picked up market share saw little net gain.

Little wonder, then, that many telcos now look at convergence and think, “Been there, done that—it doesn’t work.” Yet increasingly, we are seeing evidence that convergence offers can work. Or, rather, that a new take on convergence offers works. At the heart of this approach is the idea that simple discounts need not be—and shouldn’t be—the sole differentiator between a convergence offer and standalone fixed and mobile plans. Instead, an operator’s assets can be combined in ways that offer unique, compelling services that can’t be easily replicated, such as the ability to watch TV from any device.

For customers, these bundles are attractive because they have a clear “better together” value proposition: subscribers end up with more overall than they would have if they had purchased separate mobile and fixed plans. In other words, one plus one now equals more than two.

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AU — Access to and retention of internet ‘metadata’

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Access to and retention of internet ‘metadata’
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

On 5 August 2014, the Government announced its intention to update Australia’s telecommunication interception laws. This is part of broader efforts to enhance powers available to security agencies ‘to combat home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas’. This includes developing a mandatory ‘metadata’ retention system.

Whilst having a period of mandatory metadata retention would be new, the collection of metadata by telecommunications companies and government access to it is not new and is governed by the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA). Whilst the need for such a scheme was linked to combating terrorism, it is worth noting that Australian and European experience suggests that the most common law enforcement use of metadata will be in non-terrorism criminal cases.

UK — Ofcom publishes research on mobile phone call service quality

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Ofcom publishes research on mobile phone call service quality
Source: Ofcom

Ofcom has today published research on mobile phone call quality provided by network operators.

Improving mobile quality of service for consumers is a priority area for Ofcom. Today’s research is part of a plan to help support initiatives to improve mobile coverage in the UK, and provide consumers with quality information on mobile reception.

This information is important in helping consumers choose a mobile service that suits their needs. It also helps promote competition between mobile operators on service quality, to benefit consumers. Ofcom will continue to monitor and report on how service quality develops over time.

The report includes research on mobile phone call quality from the consumers’ perspective on mobile handsets; data supplied by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone on the performance of their networks; and consumer research on satisfaction with mobile networks.

Ofcom’s research found that while overall levels of consumer satisfaction with mobile networks are high (76%), this varies by location. Some 78% of people in urban areas were satisfied with their mobile network, compared to 67% in rural parts of the UK and 70% in remote areas.

CRS — Telemarketing Regulation: National and State Do Not Call Registries (August 14, 2014)

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Telemarketing Regulation: National and State Do Not Call Registries (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Today, it is axiomatic that telemarketers in the United States generally are not permitted to place outgoing telemarketing calls to phone numbers on the national do not call list, unless an exception applies. This was not always the case, however. The National Do Not Call Registry was implemented by Congress and by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to widespread frustration on the part of citizens with what was perceived to be abusive telemarketing practices. Particularly irritating and invasive were the numerous calls to residences on the part of telemarketers during dinner hours. In an attempt to address these complaints, Congress granted the FTC and the FCC the authority to regulate telemarketing practices. From these initial grants of regulatory authority grew the National Do Not Call Registry.

The development and implementation of the national do not call list was not straightforward. No single law creates the list. Instead, it developed from a combination of statutes and regulations over time, as Congress and the federal agencies tasked with the responsibility of regulating telemarketing developed strategies to better alleviate perceived consumer harm. This report will outline the laws underpinning the national do not call list; describe the regulations implementing the list; answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to the list; and discuss the possible penalties for violating the rules. The report will also briefly discuss some of the ways the various states have implemented their own do not call lists.

The Added Value of EU policy on Mobile telephone roaming charges

August 12, 2014 Comments off

The Added Value of EU policy on Mobile telephone roaming charges
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

International roaming allows a customer of a mobile network operator in one country to obtain telephone services – whether voice, SMS or data – from an operator in another country. The service provider ensures that the consumer remains connected to a mobile network abroad whilst using the same mobile phone handset – or a laptop/tablet in case of data roaming – and the same telephone number as at home.

In the era before the emergence of an EU-level policy to increase competition in telecommunications, the European market in this field was largely dominated by a limited number of traditional players, often public-sector monopolies, and was characterised by a marked lack of regulatory coherence between member states. Telephone networks across Europe were limited to national boundaries, preventing effective competition. The cost of telephone calls was generally high – and mobile-phone roaming charges were especially high, to a degree strikingly unjustified by the actual cost incurred by the service provider. Such charges were, on average, three times as high as those for domestic phone calls.

With the initial liberalisation of the European mobile telecommunications sector in 1998, EU action was taken to increase competition between operators and to promote adoption of common GSM and UMTS standards. A gradual fall in prices followed, and innovative new products and services began to appear. Almost a decade later, in 2007, the EU institutions introduced specific caps on mobile roaming charges for the first time, and since then – in 2009, 2012 and 2013 – they have adopted further revisions, with the aim of cutting such charges further. The EU roaming regime applies in the 28 member states of the Union, together with the three other countries within the European Economic Area (EEA).

CRS — Deploying 5G (Fifth Generation) Wireless Technology: Is the United States on Track?

August 5, 2014 Comments off

Deploying 5G (Fifth Generation) Wireless Technology: Is the United States on Track?
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

In 2018, when the XXIII Winter Olympic Games are to begin in PyeongChang, South Korea, the global competition for leadership of the mobile communications industry might be intensified by the introduction of a prototype 5G network. Commercial deployments of Fifth-Generation technologies by 2020 have been announced by wireless network officials in South Korea and Japan. In July 2014, Ericsson, a global leader in communications technology, demonstrated the speed of its 5G network design to customers NTT DOCOMO (Japan) and SK Telecom (South Korea). The technological advances of these early roll-outs might leapfrog the technologies used by U.S. networks, eroding what is widely perceived as an American competitive advantage in mobile communications.

New report on state of EU Telecommunications markets

July 23, 2014 Comments off

New report on state of EU Telecommunications markets
Source: European Commission

Today the European Commission published a report on the telecommunications market and regulation in the EU. The report covers 2012 – 2013 years.

The main findings of the report:

  • Industry revenues again declined in 2013 but investment is beginning to grow;
  • Use of traditional telephony services is decreasing as internet (VoIP) services become increasingly popular;
  • Data traffic is growing quickly;
  • Mobile voice call and data prices are higher in the EU than in the US, while the usage of mobile is higher in the US, resulting in a higher ‘average revenue per user’ in the US.
  • Only Denmark, Germany, Latvia and Malta met the 2012 target for the authorisation of the specific spectrum bands. 21 Member States did eventually meet the target in 2013, but the delay in assignment of the 800 MHz band has significantly slowed the roll-out of 4G mobile across the EU.
  • The time needed to obtain permits to roll-out new networks ranges from a few days to years depending on where in the EU you are building the network. Most authorities still do not allow for electronic submission of requests.
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