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The Illuminator

February 2021 Edition

A look into communications & media industry trends, news, and updates from the Lumine ecosystem. This month, we also hear from Incognito Software Systems’ acting COO, Pete Koat, on reimagining the future of telco delivery infrastructure.

Spotlight

Delivering the future: Reimagining how we think about access and core

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role a telecommunications infrastructure plays in running governments, businesses, health, and communities. According to UNESCO, by mid-April in 2020, COVID-19 had impacted 1.57 billion students due to school and university closures. Centers for diseases control and prevention (CDC) reported, the number of telehealth visits increased by 50% during the first quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.  

The pandemic may have prompted the surge in telecom networks’ need to be robust and reliable, but the demand for broadband access has long been waiting in the wings and will continue long-after COVID-19. Automation, connectivity accessibility, and customer experience will hold the key to the service provider’s survival and growth. 

Automation is the path to autonomous networks

Service providers are always under pressure to reduce operating costs, maximize existing investments, continuously innovate and generate new revenue streams. Service providers have invested in some siloed automation deployments to deliver the expectations above, which have only provided incremental benefits. Nevertheless, varying degrees of maturity around virtualization, machine-learning, and telemetry coupled with network automation rules have shown significant promise for industries and businesses as technology enablers.

Operators have already started to test concepts like “intent-based networking,” which is a new way of automating the network to ensure that it works the way as intended. Vodafone recently launched an “intent-based infrastructure” where they automated and simplified their network and IT systems to enable full automation of their transport connectivity services to provide greater flexibility and control on how their customers want to configure their network. Automation capabilities in the network would shorten the service provisioning timeframe, expedite quote-to-order processes and provide more self-serve capabilities to customers. It will enable customers to automate mundane tasks, create experiences that deliver competitive advantage, and add intelligence so they can work their way towards self-healing autonomous networks.

Connectivity for all: 5G, FWA, and CBRS

World Economic Forum reports that approximately 3.7 billion people, mostly in developing countries, still don’t have access to the internet. Many of this population will be unable to take advantage of critical health, education, and infrastructure-related innovations. The inaccessibility to connectivity also extends to North America. According to Microsoft’s Airband project update, approximately 157 million Americans do not use the internet at broadband speeds. Many governments have established programs to fund the deployment of broadband networks in rural areas, such as the Connect America Fund and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. What can service providers do? Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and the recently auctioned C-Band frequencies offer a silver-lining solution. Service providers are using CBRS to deliver home broadband in locations where wired broadband is challenging to reach. In Q3, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded its spectrum auction (Auction 105) for the CBRS spectrum. Light Reading reported that the auction raised more than $4.5 billion. While Verizon led the way as the biggest spender ($1.89B for 557 licenses), cable operators Charter, Comcast, and Cox were also significant bidders who won many spectrum licenses.

Another technology enabler that will drive operator growth will be 5G. Most of the 5G talk has centered around mobile. But 5G home internet, or Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), are proving to be game-changers. Operators worldwide have launched their 5G for home broadband initiatives to deliver faster, more secure, with lower latency internet connections at home. Incognito’s APAC customer Globe Telecom launched the first 5G FWA home service in emerging markets where fiber optic cables’ roll-out presented some challenges. 5G will also open the floodgates for industrial-scale internet-of-things networks in factories, ports, and more. 5G will continue to deliver coverage quality by allowing operators to set up a private 5G network. The evolution at the core has started to take shape and will take the industry by storm.

Capitalizing on the Internet of Behaviors’ (IoB)

Reimagining subscribers’ experiences to deliver the unmet human need and drive growth is at the core of ‘IoB.’ Real-time monitoring, telemetry, bulk collection of device data will enable service providers to gain immediate visibility into the subscriber eco-system. The access to the data, management, and enablement of third-party services will allow service providers to play a larger role and create new value for their customers. They can now respond dynamically to their customer’s needs and provide a hyper-personalized quality of experience with actionable insights.

It will be exciting to see what lies ahead for the service providers in this race of delivering competitive advantage. They need to remain proactive, continue to realign, and add creative offerings to maximize revenue to be ready for the future. Whatever the future holds.

Trend Updates

Strategies to Improve Application-to-Person (A2P) Monetization

Telecom operators are witnessing an increase in growth within application-to-person (A2P) messaging. A2P is any kind of traffic in which a person is receiving messages from an application. This includes (but is not limited to) marketing messages, appointment reminders, chatbots or virtual assistants, notifications, and one-time passwords (OTPs) or PIN codes.

Mobile operators have a significant opportunity to monetize A2P SMS. This includes:

  • Protecting against sophisticated bypass fraud with advanced firewall solutions: Advanced firewall solutions that incorporate machine learning techniques can help mobile operators manage fraudsters, keeping SMS a trusted channel for enterprise communication.

  • Implementing differentiated pricing policies for A2P SMS: Operators must exercise care in setting SMS rates. While the rate set must be beneficial from a monetization perspective, an overly high termination cost could and will result in enterprises restricting A2P messaging to critical SMS only, and using other channels for marketing and customer relationship building instead.

  • Forming profitable partnerships with enterprise messaging specialists: By leveraging a worldwide footprint and extensive relationships with hundreds of global organizations, SMS messaging specialists can offer operators access to large traffic volumes from enterprises all around the world.

Read more from the source.


Improving OTT Customer Engagement with Smart Data

The unprecedented uptake and consumption of OTT video services and other digital media and entertainment are resulting in providers utilizing smart data enhancements such as AI and machine learning to fully understand their customer base. Homebound households, looking for entertainment options to occupy their time, subscribed to OTT services in unpredicted numbers. Nearly four in five broadband households, as of Q3 2020, subscribe to at least one OTT service.

Once OTT providers acquire and onboard customers to their service, the next challenge that lies ahead is to continually engage them to preserve the provider-customer relationship. There are various key metrics that measure the ongoing customer engagement with OTT video services including service satisfaction, Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and key aspects of the user experience.

Subscription-based services such as Netflix and Disney+ see higher satisfaction levels than some of their non-subscription counterparts. Consumers have a deeper and longer-lasting relationship with subscription services, driven primarily by the monthly or annual financial investment they have with these service providers.

NPS scores, which track a customer’s likelihood to recommend the service to others, are another key engagement metric for OTT service providers. As COVID-19 kept US broadband households more homebound than usual, video consumers had more time to engage with and try out different services that they could in turn recommend others to use. The rise in NPS scores is an encouraging sign for service providers as they attempt to attract and acquire new customers while also attempting to regularly engage and retain existing customers.

For OTT services, customer churn is a major concern especially as compared to churn rates of traditional pay-TV providers via cable and satellite TV operators. The overall OTT churn rate continues to hover around 40%. Traditional players have long-term contracts and cross-sell bundles to keep customers subscribing to the service, sometimes unwillingly. OTT services, on the other hand, with their lack of contracts and termination fees and the sheer number of competing services, are much more susceptible to churn.

How does Smart Data help?

Smart data-driven by enhancements such as AI and machine learning inform key lifecycle points throughout the customer journey, starting with acquisition, then establishing the service-user relationship through engagement, and enhancing the experience through service upgrades and cross-sell opportunities that drive retention and temper churn.

The overarching goal is to utilize data to empower OTT service providers and other digital media and entertainment companies to operate an omni-channel platform that allows them to accomplish the following:

  • Scale more quickly
  • Increase user, subscriber, and revenue bases
  • Strength retention efforts to maintain a long-term customer relationship and increase the customer lifetime value
  • Increase overall agility, enabling organizations to deploy new service offerings and enhancements more seamlessly and rapidly
  • Lower the overall cost of doing business

Data fueled by AI and machine learning generates a truly personalized user experience for OTT video consumers. This data also provides users seamless access to a variety of content types as well as when, where, how, and within what platforms, they want to consume that content.

Another value-added benefit of an AI and machine learning-driven user experience is deep and long-lasting brand loyalty. The personalization of the user experience that fits the needs of the user delivers more customizable bundles that spur effective cross-sell opportunities across product and service lines.

Read more from the source.

Industry News

Google Cloud wins another telco customer with Canada’s Telus

Google Cloud has signed a 10-year collaboration deal to help fuel Telus’ internal digital transformation while also jointly developing new products and services. As part of the partnership, Telus will accelerate its public cloud adoption on Google Cloud’s enterprise platform to drive greater operational efficiency across its core IT and network infrastructure. Google Cloud will also become one of Telus’ partners in the delivery of 5G services and Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC).

So what? A strong indicator of the evolution of entertainment and smart home technology, bringing state-of-the-art connectivity, control, and convenience to more families.

Learn more here


IBM partners with FogHorn to foster edge-to-hybrid cloud solutions

FogHorn has joined the IBM Edge Ecosystem to offer joint customers AI-based solutions at the edge. The solution manages workloads on end devices, such as gateways from Dell, HP, and Intel. Instead of sending the data to a data lake in a cloud and then back down, FogHorn runs the data and takes action in the edge devices themselves.

So what? By working with IBM, FogHorn benefits from deep global relationships, and the partnership also benefits both companies’ customer bases. This partnership will involve putting in machine learning capabilities to act on the information in real-time to provide better outcomes.

Learn more here

The pandemic drives a 51% spike in broadband traffic

COVID-19 drove a 51% increase in broadband traffic last year due in large part to remote learning and remote work. At the same time, broadband providers saw subscriber increases and a net effect of 51% more broadband traffic.

Since March, the pandemic has driven an increase in broadband usage due to employees working from home and online learning, and, to a lesser extent, online gaming. With the larger home-based workloads, there has also been a marked increase in upstream usage during the pandemic.

So what? The impact of the pandemic has forever changed broadband usage patterns. Network operators now must contend with significantly higher than average bandwidth usage, with implications for both network management and revenue. Network operators should evaluate all network management options to ensure they deliver the best customer experience while maximizing profitability.

Learn more here

Lumine Business News

Lumine Acquires TransMedia Dynamics (TMD)

Technically a piece of March news—On March 1, Lumine Group announced the acquisition of TransMedia Dynamics (TMD). TMD is a provider of content supply chain software used by some of the world’s most visionary and innovative media & entertainment, government and archive organizations.

Learn more here

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Velocix Appointment: Anthony Berkeley

Velocix announced the promotion of Anthony Berkeley to Chief Executive Officer. Anthony was most recently Chief Operating Officer at Velocix, and he has previously held senior leadership roles in sales, product, and professional services during his 11-year tenure with the company. Prior to Velocix, he held senior positions at Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia.

Learn more here

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NetAdmin Appointment: Ulf Lindberg

NetAdmin has recently announced that Ulf Lindberg has joined as the new Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). Ulf brings extensive knowledge from the fiber industry that will be valuable for NetAdmin’s continued growth.

Learn more here

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New Content: MDS Global Research Insights

With “How service providers can use CPQ to access the SME market,” MDS Global, shares research into using a CPQ (configure, price and quote) system to be able to directly sell to SME businesses and better engage this market.

Across Europe, 99% of businesses are SMEs, meaning that they have fewer than 250 employees. The sheer size of this market makes it extremely valuable, yet it is underserved by telecoms service providers.

Get the report

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