A new kind of wireless service provider – Algis Akstinas, CEO and Founder, dotmobile

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Algis Akstinas, CEO and Founder, dotmobile explains why the traditional telecom business is about to change, and not because of 5G.

Digitally advanced, direct-to-end-user wireless brands are here. Verizon Visible, Orange Flex, Eirtel GoMo, Optus Amaysim, Videotron Fizz – in many markets around the world, telecommunications providers are launching breakout brands with differentiated offerings and going after communities previously out of reach for them.

In a recent report, global consulting company McKinsey calls them ‘digital-attacker brands’. If done right, aided by the instant connectivity of eSIM, they spread like wildfire.

This style of digital-first or digital-only carrier can be daunting for existing service providers, especially if you are a smaller player focused on niches, are retail-heavy with dealers and physical points of distribution, or opted for a gradual digital transformation rather than embarking on a greenfield, purposefully built deployment.

Is there a way to survive this transformation and increased competition from more technologically advanced providers? Can good digital experiences only be built by the big telecoms? Are there other industries that went through a similar transformation to learn from?

In this article I am going to talk about something that is available to anyone who wants to build great digital experiences – a toolkit for purposefully built, digitally native, telecom brands – a new kind of wireless service provider.

Not everything that looks like a duck and quacks like a duck is a duck

Being a new digital wireless service brand doesn’t automatically mean you’re positioned to be a true digital disruptor.

Though some brands have done a good job with the fundamentals, others have taken shortcuts. Most are simply digitizing legacy offline processes and flows, then putting them online without meaningful change. Some have just built a nicer front-end on top of an archaic back end, nothing more than a branding exercise.

While on the surface it might be enough to generate interest, building a true digital-only provider is much more than just turning a clipboard into a tablet.

In my experience, here’s what you need to set yourself up as a true digital disruptor:

  • Simplification
  • Real time experiences
  • Full digital service
  • Leverage the API economy
  • Microservices architecture
  • Everything in the cloud
  • Privacy and control

Start simple and make the compromise

Telecom is notorious for being overly complicated. Most employees can barely navigate the multitude of rate plans, business rules, discounts, and regulations available to a consumer. How can you expect a consumer to do it themselves?

The root cause here is that big telecom needs to serve everyone. In most cases, this leads to a bad experience, a bad product, and overwhelming complexity.

So think simple. Solve a specific problem. Serve a segment with specific needs.

When in doubt, remind yourself that this product will not be right for everyone, and that’s ok.

Real time experiences are key

If it’s not real time, then that iPad is still just a clipboard. Real time experiences start with real time systems. In telecom that is real time rating and charging, event streaming, real time payments and all the information about the customer, product, network being available real time in the cloud for up and downstream systems.

The majority of telecoms still think about mediation, ost processing. Anything not real time will not be able to deliver real time experiences. Building intermediary systems and solutions that mimic real time are temporary solutions that won’t get you very far. In fact you will be at the square one in 12-24 months trying to solve the issues you were trying to escape in the first place.

Fully digital service

Online service activation is usually the first step telecoms are taking in their digital transformation journey. After that, maybe a simple chatbot that can redirect to live agents. Then there is a community forum. In general, the aim is to reduce the number of calls to the call centre.

To be truly disruptive, a digital operator needs to think digital-only. There is no “offline”. If there’s a breakpoint, it needs to be handled in the digital realm. If there’s a revenue opportunity – go digital.

Keeping everything online will ensure digital telcos realize distinct advantages with

  • low-to-no reliance on physical distribution,
  • attributable ad spend and 1:1 marketing, and
  • greater penetration across a broader VAS portfolio.


Algis will be speaking at the upcoming MVNOs North America Digital Symposium, you can register your place here.

  • MVNOs North America

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