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Great Expectations For the CSP in 2013

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Timo AhomakiBy Timo Ahomäki

It’s that time of year again when CSPs and all those associated with the global telco market are gazing into their crystal balls to predict what will shake the industry in 2013. It’s no surprise that the worldwide deployment of 4G, exits in the handset industry and M2M have featured most highly. Though more realistically, what are the items that will top CSPs' boardroom agendas in the new year?

Tecnotree’s product managers have had conversations with CSPs around the world, and it seems that three key themes stand out:

1. Policy management is set to evolve. For several years now CSPs have been busy playing with policy management to better their business or improve customer service. Using the key assets within, operators have learned to control subscriber usage and personalize services. In 2013 we expect that policy management will shift from being solely a tool for networks, and become truly extended as a business tool. Take for example that a customer subscribes to a video service from an OTT player in the Internet. Through this business, forming agreements with operators for better QoS on behalf of their HD service customers, we will start to see a more intelligent use of policy management in a form accessible to end-users beyond the early adopters. This is likely to have a huge impact on the future of the product bundle as different businesses begin to understand how this can enhance their service too.

2. M2M will be widely discussed but not fully take off until 2014. When it comes to M2M, many are suggesting that 2013 is the year this will hit the mainstream; however, perhaps this is a bit premature, as before it can really "take off," operators have lots of considerations to mull over. M2M as a business isn’t so simple, as we are essentially looking at  a large number of vertically integrated ecosystems only narrowly passing through the traditional CSP space. What the operators will need to determine is which verticals they will embrace and to which extent. Only then will the question of monetization become relevant. For example, the business ecosystems in health care, transportation and logistics are likely to be very different. So while 2013 will definitely be the year for CSPs to define their position in these growing ecosystems, the real takeoff of M2M will take a little bit longer.

3. We will witness the demise of “emerging markets." The so called emerging markets have always been lumped together by the telecoms sector, but next year that looks set to change. With each region developing its own identity, it will be increasingly difficult to find a common descriptor for such a varied group of geographies. For example, across Latin America we have seen an increase in the enterprise usage of mobile phones as well as a land grab in fixed broadband, reminiscent of Western Europe in a few years ago. Then take Asia. Bar one or two countries, this region has now caught up with the more "developed" nations through an explosion of 0 – 400% mobile penetration and with quite healthy ARPUs to go with that. Africa, on the other hand, remains a very mobile-centric market with penetrations well below 100 percent and with sub $5 ARPUs in many countries. It’s then clear that these countries no longer fit under the same umbrella, and 2013 is likely to how further separation of the emerging markets as they form their own independent identity.

Timo Ahomäki is CTO, Tecnotree Corporation.

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