Q&A with Nicholas Constantinopoulos, CEO Europe at FreedomPop

Nicholas Constantinopoulos shares what has impacted his business the most, why Operator’s DNA doesn’t include innovation and the whether the current non-traditional telco players entering the market are a threat or an opportunity.

What initiates have been undertaken by operators to stay ahead of the curve?

They adopt front-end digital initiatives, including gross add online acquisitions and digital end-to-end delivery of sim cards. Slowly they move to digitalize more of their internal processes. Still, traction of off-line practices is strong in Operators – dependency on retail network for sales and ‘old’ marketing.

Are the new non-traditional telco players entering the telco market a threat or an opportunity?

Operators cannot distinguish between threat and opportunity. Since they have an established history of almost 30 years, they behave like old-boring organizations afraid of change. The new players are more aggressive and dare more as the only way of success forward.

Eventually, the Operators either acquire those non-traditional telcos, kill them or try to copy them. The most successful non-traditional telcos end-up being acquired by non-telco players – like internet companies – in an effort of those companies to ‘lock-in’ those telco users.

Will we see more OEMs trying to enter the telco market? What has Google Fi’s project thought us?

Google’s project didn’t deliver any impressive results. Therefore, I am not sure of anything that Google Fi taught us. The only learning eventually is ‘don’t try to copy what the MNOs are doing’. Be truly innovative.

How will operators ever be able to regain their position in the market as key innovators?

Operator’s DNA doesn’t include innovation. They are just setting-up networks and struggle with quality of service. Operators developing apps and premium services is a myth.

Some operators managed to be successful in specific markets – i.e. Docomo with i-mode in Japan –, but still a disaster when exported abroad.

What will the future MVNO become in an IoT and e-SIM world?

We’ve been talking about IoT and e-SIM for the last 5 years. Still, I didn’t experience an Armageddon and don’t see one developing soon. The e-SIM could potentially become successful with Chinese vendors – and Operators – when roaming abroad. However, the rest of vendors – and Operators – do not appear ready to adopt it, they seem to be checking on each other before making any move.

What has impacted your business the most?

Increasing marketing costs. End-users become immune to the messages of Operators and therefore the marketing spend increases in the quest to ‘engage’ them.

What are you going to focus on over the next years?

Developing further our digital acquisition & upselling capabilities excelling against competition.


You can meet with Nicholas Constantinopoulos during the MVNOs World Congress 2018 where he will deliver two sessions: ‘Changing approach’, addressing how to move focus away from customer acquisition to customer retention, and ‘Licensing digital capabilities to MNOs’, focusing on expansion model based on Acquisition and Conversation platforms licensing.

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  • MVNOs North America

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