Beyond Traditional Carrier Services

Turn the Page: Why Telecom Operators Must Transition Beyond Traditional Carrier Services

The telecommunications industry today faces a stark choice: persist with an increasingly unviable conventional business model and lose relevance in a fast-evolving marketplace, or reimagine its value proposition for the digital era.

As their core infrastructure services including messaging, voice and data continue to get commoditized, key business metrics are all flashing red–decliningaverage revenue per user (ARPU), lower rate of top line growth, and plunging EBITDA margins. Despite operators having invested hundreds of billions of dollarsin recent years in revamping network infrastructure, new-age “digital native” rivals such as over-the-top (OTT) service providers have captured most of the financial value.

So, how can operators respond to this existential threat? Before we explore possible solutions, one must first accept the hard, yet unmistakable, reality that the traditional doctrine of building and running a closed ecosystem via vertical integration, wherein the operator owns the spectrum, network and distribution channels, is no longer relevant.

Morph into a Platform

In order to stand out in a fragmented landscape, operators need to turn the page, and transition from being pure-play providers to a “platform “provider. In other words, operators have to move beyond being an infrastructure player and require repositioning themselves as digital service providers.
Indeed, in this age of hyper-connectivity and unprecedented volumes of data flow, these players can uniquely position themselves as a one-stop enabler of connectivity that can, in turn, underpin various next-generation services throughout the digital ecosystem. Asset monetization through value-based use-cases is necessary for operators to turn the current tide in their favour.

Shifting from a push-driven mindset to a pull-oriented worldview where one adapts oneself to evolving customer requirements is critical, more so in the context of operator’s your business-to-business clients. By using connectivity as a foundational stone of the platform play, one could deliver various solutions that address different problems faced by enterprises. For instance, one could expose one’s various assets via APIs, and let businesses pick and choose specific aspects they want to plug into their workflows.

Three ways in which the operator can transition beyond providing conventional carrier services, and establish a new identity that resonates with customers include:

Deploying Application-to-Person (A2P) Messaging to Enhance Customer Engagement: Enterprises are using mobile first marketing strategies to engage with their customers at the point of need and delivering the richest, most compelling experience possible over diverse channels, both legacy and the new-age digital channels

Enterprises that are dependent on standalone platforms for SMS, USSD, or over-the-top services find it difficult to move from one channel to another. In fact, a Gartner study indicates that on average, companies deploy around 22 different tools for marketing. Telecom operators can monetize on this business need by providing a convergent solution that will enable enterprises to connect and engage with their customers through various channels – all through a single platform.

Deliver data-driven insights as a service: enterprises can benefit from the vast repository of customer data and business intelligence available with the operator. This largely includes a customer’s usage patterns, location-based information, demographics,. Enterprises could be empowered to glean actionable insights from the massive volumes of data being generated across their value chain, by provisioning analytics as a service. Such tangible insights can help enterprises accurately drive custom intelligence and targeted sales, predict demand, effectively manage inventory, and take other crucial business decisions.

Enable mobile data as a channel for enterprise engagement:  Operators ought to make it convenient for enterprises to connect with customers via data as an engagement channel. Enterprises should be enabled to leverage data to incentivize, reward and promote services. Monetizing mobile data channel is critical for an operator’s long-term success.

Deliver adjacent offerings: Operators could compete with the OTT players head on by building and offering branded digital services relating to payments, digital video content, digital advertising, etc.


In the digital economy where the customer calls the shots like never before, telecom operators must move up the value chain and deliver compelling, intuitive, personalized customer experiences. Merely delivering “dumb” pipes and connectivity solutions won’t suffice anymore. The time to make the transition is right here, right now!

Aditya Dhruva
Chief Technology Officer, Chief Operating Officer - Messaging and Broadband Solutions
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