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Global Telecoms - Is there a Future for the Telcos

The telecoms industry is currently involved in a massive transformation. Since the arrival of the internet, the focus of the industry has moved from providing defined end-products to becoming a facilitator in the development of a range of new products, companies, and indeed new industries.

Unfortunately ever since this change took place, the incumbents have fought tooth and nail against these developments. They wanted to maintain their traditional products for as long as possible and mainly for that reason most have continued to defend their monopolistic structures.

They lost the internet battle with the newly-emerging digital and social media companies; and they made a similar mistake in relation to mobile broadband, where they lost the battle to the smartphone companies.

The question now is whether they will be able to embrace the developments around the digital economy. Trans-sector services such as e-health, tele-education, e-government, smart grids, IoT (M2M), all require a utilities-based wholesale infrastructure that is separated from the retail services that will be carried over them.

The IoT is the next inflection point after connecting homes (fixed lines) and people (mobile). It will increase telecoms connections to billions of devices. The telcos have an opportunity to show leadership here as well, but this could equally become another internet-like development, driven by users and the internet industry.

Perhaps the best option for the telcos is to concentrate on the enormous demand for bandwidth. This needs to be managed, moved around the networks and made available at the edges, using converging wireless and fixed high-speed broadband infrastructure. IoT requires massive data processing through data centres and server farms, linked to an enormous requirement for real-time analytics.

Hot topics:

IoT, M2M, bandwidth, ARPU, e-health, tele-education, smart grids, analytics, iPhone, smartphone, OTT, m-payment, e-payment, smart cards, e-commerce, mobile broadband, trans-sector.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Telstra, Telecom New Zealand and SingTel, Google, Yahoo, Skype, eBay, YouTube, iTunes, PayPal, Facebook, Apple, iTunes.


1. Synopsis
2. From benign to hard-line monopoly
3. Telco model of the future will be based on OTT
4. The end of the line for PSTN and HFC networks
5. Telecoms market is transforming but the telcos are not
5.1 Telcos lost the internet battle
5.2 Telcos also lost the mobile content battle
6. Next on the chopping block – the infrastructure
7. So what is next for the telcos?
7.1 IoT the next frontier
7.2 Is bandwidth the new growth market for the telcos?
7.3 Rebalancing telco infrastructure investments
8. Conclusion
9. Related reports
List of tables and Exhibits
Table 1 – Visitors to top web properties worldwide – 2008; June 2009; May 2011
Table 2 – Worldwide - broadband market share by access technology – 2009 - 2011
Table 3 – Worldwide smartphone operating systems by market share – 2007 – 2010; Q3 2011
Table 4 – Top ten carriers worldwide by revenue – 2010; 2011
Table 5 – Bharti Airtel mobile ARPU – 2004 - 2005; 2007 - 2011
Exhibit 1 – Apple iPhone and Apple iTunes
Exhibit 2 – Telstra leading the global telco move towards the OTT model
Exhibit 3 – Digital economy – key developments
Exhibit 4 – Major shareholders in Bharti Airtel – April 2011

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