Thursday, 27 July 2017

Telcos can survive on big data alone - Sprint

By Mary Lennighan, Total Telecom, in Amsterdam
Wednesday 17 October 12

Network operators must work together to get the most out of the data they collect, or OTT players will benefit instead, U.S. telco warns.

Telecoms operators have a wealth of information at their disposal in all the customer data they collect, but they need to take action to avoid the impetus being passed to the over-the-top (OTT) providers, according to U.S. mobile operator Sprint. If telcos became nothing more than a dumb pipe, ″we could make a living just out of analytics,″ said Von McConnell…

Telecoms operators have a wealth of information at their disposal in all the customer data they collect, but they need to take action to avoid the impetus being passed to the over-the-top (OTT) providers, according to U.S. mobile operator Sprint.

If telcos became nothing more than a dumb pipe, ″we could make a living just out of analytics,″ said Von McConnell, director of technology development and strategy at Sprint, at Broadband World Forum on Tuesday.

Telecoms operators are among the largest providers of data base services in the world, but ″we don't have the skillset to use that data,″ he said. ″We sell minutes of usage and handsets. That's what we do... We don't have data scientists,″ he added. ″We're going to have to move to a more data scientific approach.″

Indeed, while telcos are battling with a raft of different systems, all with different analytics tools attached, and are facing questions from requlatory bodies with regard to privacy, OTT players are marching forward. The likes of Google and Amazon place advertising based on real-time analytics, for example, McConnell pointed out.

″There's a $260 billion advertising industry out there just trying to get at this data,″ he said.

But there are also other ways in which telecoms operators can benefit from big data.

Location information is valuable to advertisers, but it can also help telcos provision their networks. People are creatures of habit, which makes it possible to predict with a high degree of accuracy where a subscriber is likely to be at particular times of day for, say, five days ahead.

″Can you optimise your network better now?″ he asked the telcos in the room. With this information, ″now you can offer QoS all the way to the end,″ he said.

In addition, ″we realised we could forecast customer churn very well with data,″ McConnell said.

But there are still challenges to overcome.

One is cost. ″We like data. We store data. It costs a lot of money,″ McConnell said, adding that while OTT providers pay small percentages of cents for data, a telco can pay $12-$15 per subscriber, per year.

Challenges also stem from the myriad systems each telco has, which differ from each other and from similar systems being used by other operators. OTT players, meanwhile, capture a lot of information simply using cookies.

McConnell urged operators to work together to solve this complexity.

″We're going to have to find a way as an industry to do this,″ he said. The industry should make an effort to ″harmonise at least the ways to collect and analyse [data].″

Telcos have three or four years to figure it out together, he predicted, after which time ″this will be past us and all the over-the-top providers will be doing the analytics.″

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