The use of auctions for spectrum renewal seems pointless and likely only to create uncertainty and risk for operators, says Graham Friend, managing director at Coleago Consulting. New entrants know they are likely to be outbid by incumbents and the uncertainty generated dampens the desire of those incumbents to invest and innovate, which is not good at a time when governments want to see a rapid and extensive roll-out of LTE.
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 most serious challenge mobile operators face over the next five years is the competitive threat from OTT players, according to overall respondents to the Telecoms.com Intelligence Industry Survey 2014. Almost 50 per cent of respondents rating the OTT threat a six or seven on a one-to-seven scale of severity. But the operator repondents themselves when broken out, however, judged regulatory pressure on pricing to be the biggest threat, with almost 60 per cent of operator respondents giving this a high rating for severity.
A greenfield LTE operator that has launched this year in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda would “happily prioritise Skype traffic” at the expense of standards-based voice services if that is what the market demanded, its chief operating officer has told Telecoms.com.
Industry consultants have attacked the recent Austrian LTE spectrum auction process, claiming that the outcome took too much money out of the market and threatens competition in the Austrian mobile sector. The fact that incumbent Telekom Austria was able to acquire half of all the spectrum made available could be particularly detrimental.
Canada’s telecoms regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a wireless code for operators in a bid to make it easier for subscribers to understand their contracts and their basic rights.
Starting this week, European operators are looking at the development of a coherent strategy to prepare for the arrival of roaming MVNOs in 2014. From May 14 to June 3, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) is holding a public consultation on draft guidelines in relation to regulated retail roaming services.
US operator T-Mobile has revamped its retail offering, abolishing handset subsidies for premium devices in favour of an interest-free scheme that separates the cost of the device from the cost of network service. Annual service contracts have also been withdrawn. The pricing overhaul is expected to be one of a number of announcements made by T-Mobile at a press event later on Tuesday, although the changes have already been made on the operator’s online retail portal.
French communications regulator ARCEP was gunning for internet telephony player Skype this week, which it suggests is committing a criminal offence by not declaring itself as a communications operator.
Norwegian operator group Telenor will cease operating in Mumbai, after being told by India’s Supreme Court to shut down its operations in the city. The operator’s Indian subsidiary, Uninor, will lose around 1.84 million customers as a result.
Competition and investment in the global telecoms industry is being held back by inconsistent regulatory frameworks, according to research firm Ovum. The firm assessed and ranked the regulatory performance of 11 countries across three geographic areas in the second iteration of its annual Regulatory Scorecard.
UK regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation into methods of protecting consumers from mid-contract price increases for fixed, broadband and mobile services. The consultation comes on the heels of a review in which Ofcom studied more than 1,600 consumer complaints in a six-month period about changes in tariffs for what consumers believed were fixed-price contracts.
Bengt Nordstrom, founder of industry consultancy NorthStream, shares a series of predictions for the mobile industry in 2013. In this second instalment he suggests that European regulators will become more open to consolidation among operators, helping to revitalise the European market.
The Brazilian government will continue to require that a significant portion of telecoms network equipment is manufactured locally as it seeks to harness the sector’s growth to create jobs and local wealth, according to the country’s minister for communications.
In a recent interview request I was asked to comment on the demand from Indonesian Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring to remove roaming fees between ASEAN countries.
The focus was on two questions: Do you think it would be possible for Asean to become a free roaming region? And if so Why? And what steps need to be taken for Asean’s telcos to agree to a no roaming fee agreement?
Ben Verwaayen is not prone to making headline-grabbing comments. He is a seasoned industry campaigner but not really the type of industry leader to obsess about developing a strong public profile. But when, at a shareholders meeting earlier this month, the Alcatel Lucent CEO was asked about some of the factors behind the company’s slide back into the red, Vervaayen referred specifically to the status of telecoms regulation in Europe and the pursuit of policies which risked creating a “digital desert”.
European operators will face a challenging time ahead as Western Europe is overwhelmed by strict EU regulations, with the price of voice calls falling by 46 per cent and data roaming services cut from average costs of around $4 to just $0.26 by 2014.
Everything Everywhere, the company formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, has posted a drop in service revenue of 2.5 per cent to reach £1.5bn in its first quarter earnings statement.
The thought of Apple becoming an MVNO and offering its customers IP voice and messaging services as a cheap alternative to conventional voice and SMS is one that keeps many mobile operator CEOs awake at night. It is not just the loss of voice and SMS revenues that alarms operators. It is the risk that the operator would lose so much of its retail business. Network operators would become invisible to many of their (previous) customers.
A former deputy general manager at China Mobile has been sentenced to death by the Chinese state, having been found guilty of corruption. Zhang Chunjiang, who was detained late in 2009, confessed to having accepted US$1.16m in bribes between 1994 and 2009.