Telecom Personal, Paraguay: “OTT behaviour is something we have to change”

Christian Costa is CFO of Telecom Personal, Paraguay and is speaking at the LTE Latin America Conference taking place on the 17-18 April 2012 at the Windsor Barra Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Just ahead of the conference catches up with him to see what challenges the operator is facing as it rolls out LTE.

What are the main milestones you have reached with relation to your LTE deployment?

We currently have a dual-carrier HSPA+ network. LTE will be the next step.

What are the main challenges you have faced, or expect to face, as you roll out?

Each cycle of technology is like an ‘S’ curve that’s lower than before. Be it the invention of papyrus, the printing press, the telegraph, TV, mobile telephony, internet and social networks – each time the cycles are shorter and industries change rapidly. The challenge in the development of LTE for operators is to monetise OTT services, which currently do not contribute to the development of networks, or the care of customers.

It’s clear where you stand on the issue of OTT players contributing to the costs of deploying networks. What’s your solution?

OTT players must share revenues or networks must charge for these services that are available on the networks. The current model is asymmetric: a player invests billions of dollars and the other party, via software development only, is able to generate revenues several times its investment in very short periods of time, thanks to the existence of the networks. As far as I’m concerned, changing this scenario should be the first goal of all operators.

To what extent can LTE provide an insurance against declining revenue streams from voice and SMS?

“A Seguro se lo llevaron preso”  … we say in Argentina. (In English – “you can’t take anything for granted” –ed). To avoid LTE being more of the same, the operators must change the model. Make us stronger. Unite network providers and operators together to get paid for OTT services using the network. Consider the price trends of operators and vendors, compared to businesses such as Akamai. OTT behaviour is something that we have to change – otherwise, we will end up being just a dumb pipe.

Is there a place moving forward for unlimited data tariffs? Are they sustainable?

My vision is yes. The problem is how we solve that. The vendors, the OTT players and the operators have to find ways to share revenue from the same customers; otherwise it will attenuate the development of humanity and limit access to information. We need change to create a profitable future.

Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

The innovation is typically in processes, in networks features, in products and offers. The operators innovate with processes and offers while the networks are the innovation of the vendors. Increasing the customer experience will be the goal of next decade.

MVNOs are examples of changes in processes. Call packages are examples of product innovations, the ring back tone a network features, while the OTT  services  are Darwinian innovations arising from the economic incentives of the network.

What changes would you expect to see in the industry in the next five years?

The use of mobile as a tool for financial inclusion will be important in countries of high penetration. The new networks and terminals increasing use of data, which will be key to improving the customer experience. The connectivity of things will increase: the internet will be everywhere, at any time and moving wherever you go. Social networks will grow massively.

The LTE Latin America 2012 is taking place on the 17-18 April 2012 at the Windsor Barra Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Click here to register your interest.

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