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What MNOs need to achieve revenue optimisation and operational excellence

In this interview, Matteo Gatta, CEO of BICS, talks about the company’s strategy to address mobile network operators’ needs on revenue optimisation, operational excellence, customer experience, and risk reduction, and why MNOs should work with BICS.

Q1. What do you see as the main issues and challenges currently impacting mobile operators? What do they need from their wholesale partners?

The past year has seen massive changes in the way that individuals and enterprises consume communications services. On one hand, the domestic networks of MNOs are under far greater pressure to accommodate the increased capacity, security and reliability catering to the requirements of the new home-working reality. On the other hand, operators have had to mitigate the decrease in roaming traffic which they’ve been experiencing by sourcing new revenue streams. At the same time, they are having to prepare their networks for the expected jump in demand for roaming services once pandemic restrictions are lifted. And then of course, operators need to safeguard their existing revenues, by fully securing their infrastructure and protecting their subscribers from fraud and security threats.

Wholesale partners can assist operators by helping them to streamline their operations and reduce costs on their legacy services, while supporting the introduction of new wireless technologies, such as NB-IoT and 5G and ensuring a fully secured environment to protect against fraud. International carriers can accompany MNOs on the journey from traditional core services to the digital, cloud and other new revenue opportunities to be embraced.

Q2. What plans does BICS have in place to help mobile operators succeed in the face of these challenges?

We remain the bridge that enables value and secures seamless connectivity throughout the digital-mobile ecosystem, from operators to internet, software and enterprise players. We have put a number of offerings in place, helping MNOs transition to a post-COVID world and recoup lost revenues, prepare for 5G roaming, and maximise A2P SMS revenue streams. We are also enabling operators to enter into the cloud communications ecosystem and to tap into the new potential of IoT, while ensuring the highest security standards.

Our offering for MNOs is spread across four pillars:

Sustainable revenue growth – solutions such as our programmable communications and global A2P termination for example, continue to help MNOs grow existing voice and messaging revenue streams. At the same time, a range of solutions such as international 5G connectivity, global IoT connectivity and advanced analytics are also helping operators capture new opportunities.

Streamlining operational management and maximising profitability – by cutting OPEX and improving efficiencies we are enabling operators to increase the profitability of all their services. Operators can enjoy a global reach for voice, SMS and roaming in a streamlined manner by one simplified connection through BICS, removing the complexity of managing these services in-house and freeing up internal resources for core activities.

Delivering excellence in quality of experience – by managing advanced fibre and submarine infrastructure, and distributed Points of Presence around the world, we enable MNOs to deliver excellent customer experiences. And the advent of real-time Quality of Service and advanced analytics solutions ensures best-in-class experiences for subscribers, helping MNOs diagnose and resolve network or Quality of Experience issues before they become a major problem.

Alongside this is an urgent focus on helping MNOs reduce risk around telecoms fraud, a fast-growing, sophisticated and multinational pursuit. BICS’ protection spans voice, SMS and roaming services, helping MNOs to detect and rectify fraud and network issues in real time, so they can deliver reliable services to customers.

Q3. What is the impact and implication of fraud on MNOs’ business in EMEA? How can it be addressed?

Operators across the globe are increasingly concerned about securing their networks, subscribers, and services from international attacks on voice, SMS, and roaming transactions. Telecoms fraud costs around €29 billion per year and attacks are becoming increasingly complex, hitting operators faster and with greater impact.

Traditional reactive countermeasures are no longer enough, so BICS is helping operators improve their protection against such fraud and security attacks with a proactive, crowdsourced solution, called FraudGuard. It analyses traffic patterns on more than 900 networks and leverages BICS’ unique role in the wholesale ecosystem.

To date, our fraud prevention solutions have blocked more than 1.1 billion fraudulent calls, saving MNOs more than €2.15 billion.

Q4. What does IoT mean for mobile operators? How can they monetise IoT?

IoT is one of the key technology developments now driving the mobile industry. There are already 1.7 billion IoT devices on cellular networks alone and GSMA Intelligence forecasts that connections as a whole will reach almost 25 billion globally by 2025.

Cellular connectivity with its convenience, reliability, ubiquity and built-in security remains the best connectivity standard for many IoT use cases, especially for enterprises with large global fleets of devices to manage. As such, these companies are going to demand a completely different type of relationship with the MNO: they will want an MVNO-like model with high levels of autonomy in provisioning and deprovisioning, managing, troubleshooting and monetising each SIM.

MNOs that are agile are going to be best placed to capture this IoT opportunity. It is a complex ask, as mobile operators will need to support M2M SIM cards and develop new business models to support and serve the needs of these global enterprises.

Q5. Where can mobile operators find the next avenue for growth in the core business? With stagnating revenues from voice and subscriber business, where are growth and margins going to come from?

Voice is transforming and migrating into all-IP, and we are seeing the sunsetting of 2G networks globally, and even 3G networks in Asia. The priority here will be to continue to deliver that seamless voice experience globally that subscribers are used to with 4G and 5G.

Messaging has evolved more than any other part of the mobile operator’s business in recent years. Use cases like 2-factor authentication and customer service have driven the growth of A2P messaging which, according to Juniper research, is set to grow to 3.5 trillion messages by 2023.

And even more change lies ahead. With the shift towards digital communications, applications and machine communications are going to become even more important. Operators will need to tap into the possibilities of rich communication services (RCS) and rich business messaging (RBM) to deliver omnichannel engagement with customers.

In contrast to voice and messaging, the data opportunity is all about capturing growth. Apart from capturing the massive increase of traffic from end users, data traffic underpins the huge opportunities from IoT and cloud.

The migration to 5G is in part to avoid network saturation, as are 2G and 3G sunsets, and 4G and 5G will both need completely different sets of technical and commercial interworking agreements, while welcoming a wave of new mobile private networks and MVNOs.

At BICS, we’re studying these trends closely and working with mobile operators to help them develop meaningful global offerings.


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