Bakrie Telecom’s network optimisation GM: “Operators should start looking into other ways of monetising the content through m-commerce”

Rohit Kanwar is general manager for network optimization for Bakrie Telecom, Indonesia

Rohit Kanwar is the general manager for network optimisation for Indonesian operator Bakrie Telecom, and is speaking on Day One of the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. We speak to him on the recent milestones for Bakrie Telecom and get his views on the challenges currently facing operators.

What were the big milestones for you in the last 12 months?

For  thelast 12 months we have been focusing on deploying the broadband network and trying to understand the detailed business dynamics for running the broadband network for profit. With reducing ARPU and increasing bandwidth usage it has becomes extremely challenging in the current [economic] scenario. Network operations need to be run at a minimum cost to meet the challenges of the decreasing ARPU.

Where do you stand on bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?

Traffic management is extremely important in the current broadband network and it has to run on a daily basis. Throttling is one of the mechanisms used for managing the data hoggers in the network. However they have to be “politically” managed as well. These hoggers are very active on all the technology blogs and would be able to ruin your reputation. A better policy control function would help you to prioritise and identify the users to be throttled in the network.

There is often criticism that ISPs and governments are not rolling out fast networks – but we also hear that few customers are interested in paying for higher speeds? Is there a demand for faster services?

I believe that with the introduction of iPads and smartphones and people spending more time on YouTube and other video sites, it has been clear that bandwidth consumption in developed markets has grown significantly. However, there is also strong demand for high-bandwidth applications in emerging markets and these markets are seeing the same trends. There are lots of challenges to overcome to deploy the network for sustaining high-speed for users. Governments need to support the service providers by reducing the license fees so that more ISPs are willing to invest in the broadband revolution.

Many see OTT services as a major threat? Do you?

OTT services are not a direct threat to the service provider. However they are moving into a landscape where digital content providers are getting the maximum revenue, while using the pipes providing by the network provider. What would be better for the service provider is to move into a model where they provide the content and share the revenue from the user with the content provider. Certainly we see a lot happening in this industry in the future where carriers would a play significant mediating role between content and consumers.

Where can the carriers add value for the customer?

Carriers have great statistical data from the customers and can analyse their behaviour. They could help both content providers and customers by performing data analytics. For example, carriers can advise the customers on the best “chicken tikka” Indian restaurants in Singapore by providing online surveys with the users.

Could 4G services affect the demand for superfast fixed-line broadband?

4G services would increase the overall demand for mobile internet and it would enhance the concept of “internet anytime-anywhere-anyplace.” However, fixed-line broadband will play a pivotal role for corporates and industry houses. Corporates would still be using fixed-line broadband for better line redundancy and stability, whereas mobile broadband would be more focused on the business-to-consumer segments.

Net neutrality has been enshrined in law in the Netherlands. What’s your stance on this issue?

I welcome the decision from the Netherlands Government. They pushed the operators to follow the law for net neutrality and it became the second country after Chile to introduce such a law. Telcos should not charge the consumer an additional amount for using the third-party internet or VoIP services. However telcos are currently struggling with declining ARPU from voice and SMS. They should start looking into other ways of monetising the content through m-commerce.

Do you think there is enough innovation in the industry? If so, can you provide examples?

Smartphones and tablets are the new innovations in the industry and are driving a huge apps business. However there is strong need for technology innovation from the service provider to reduce network costs and better utilise spectrum.

What would you say are the major challenges that you expect to face in the next few years?

I see multiple challenges for the telcos and vendors across the industry to face. This is primarily due to the tsunami of mobile broadband data caused by the introduction of smartphones and tablets. Every day there are new apps and software being pumped into the network. I believe it requires a standardising body such as the IEEE or equivalent.

What are you hoping to get out of attending the LTE Asia 2012?

I am hoping to get more understanding on bridging the gap between content connectivity and consumers. I am also hoping for an overview and roadmap on new technologies such as NFC communication and various applications, which may transform the whole credit card industry in the future. I also expect some new innovation in delivering high-speed internet over power lines, minimising the cost of delivering networks inside the home.

The LTE Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

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