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Let’s Get Digital: Enriching the Telco Customer Experience in the Digital Age



Telco Customer Experience

The telecommunications industry is, unfortunately, not famed for offering a positive customer experience (CX). And the situation worsens when you look specifically at the digital CX. Why is the sector at the heart of technological development challenged by the digital future? Here, Hamish White, CEO of telecoms software provider Mobilise, explains how telcos can differentiate themselves and offer improved telco customer experience by adopting a digital-first mindset.

Offering customers a seamless, intuitive online experience is essential for telcos looking to thrive in the digital era. Providing a personalized, flexible and convenient service that guarantees customer satisfaction is the goal for all service providers, but what technology should they adopt in order to make it a reality?

Starting Off on the Right Foot

Increased consumer demand for digital technology has forced companies to change how they connect with their customers in order to keep up with the market. Digital technologies that were once a temporary measure are now permanent features and technologies that were in their primary stages are becoming more familiar. GSMA Intelligence identified that although eSIM adoption increased throughout 2021, 2022 will be a year of more widespread usage, estimating that more than 500 million smartphone connections will use eSIMs globally by the end of this year.

Embedded SIMs, or eSIMs, improve digital customer onboarding by eliminating the need for a physical plastic SIM card. They take the network authentication credentials that have previously been held on the physical SIM card and download them to the mobile device via the internet. This facilitates a frictionless customer onboarding process, helping to improve CX right from the customer’s first interaction with their service provider.

Implementing eSIM capabilities facilitates digital onboarding by completing everything from identity verification and subscription management right from the customer’s device, without the need to visit a physical store or wait for a SIM card via the mail. eSIMs also offer greater service provider flexibility for customers. Since several subscriptions can be activated on one device simultaneously, customers can switch between providers as required. This feature is particularly useful for regular travellers, allowing them to change operators depending on their region without the frustrations of storing several plastic SIM cards and switching them manually.

But there’s an additional choice that service providers need to make: QR code or in-app eSIM provisioning? Although the QR code solution improves CX compared to physical SIM cards, it still presents telco customer experience challenges. In-app eSIM provisioning uses a very specific application programming interface (API) layer between the mobile app and the device to provision SIM credentials without the use of a QR code. This means that customers can activate their subscription in as little as 20 seconds with just one tap. 

The speed and simplicity for the customer when onboarding in this way means that in-app eSIM provisioning is the gold standard for telcos that value an enriched telco customer experience. In an industry like telecoms where churn rates are higher than average, ensuring that this first interaction between the customer and their operator is positive is a key differentiator for telcos. And adopting a digital onboarding process, powered by eSIM technology, is an enabler of satisfaction.

Valued, Loyal Customers

Enriching the telco customer experience right from the beginning is important, but maintaining a positive brand sentiment is essential. The answer lies in personalization. Customers want to feel like an individual that the brand they choose really understands, as opposed to just another number on a database. Service providers need to make their customers feel valued by knowing what they need and what they want. 

Personalization can be anything from custom offers to birthday messages or rewards based on customer usage patterns. But to do all of this, telcos need centralised data. Aggregating data into one system like a Customer Data Management (CDM) platform allows telcos to see all of the information they have on their customers in one place — including internal data like customer profiles, billing data, call records, usage patterns and browsing history, as well as unstructured data from external sources like customer social posts. 

Once this data has been gathered, telcos can run sophisticated machine learning (ML) algorithms in order to identify patterns that appear across their entire customer base. For example, if there is a certain behaviour pattern that customers tend to make before leaving their service provider, ML can identify existing customers that are exhibiting that same behaviour and are at risk of churning, and trigger a set of actions, like a special offer, to uncertain customers.

This enriches CX by offering a personalized predictive service. By unlocking the value data, telcos can gain actionable insights into their customer base to better understand their needs, both on an individual level and collectively, to pre-empt problems in the customer journey. For CX, this is extremely beneficial, ensuring that telcos meet the needs of their customers and tend to their frustration before they become dealbreakers.

To deliver exceptional telco customer experience at every step of the customer journey, from onboarding to subscription management and troubleshooting, telcos should create a comprehensive technology stack with several microservices to integrate eSIM capabilities, ML and AI to offer their customers a tailored, unique experience. Telcos need a seamless CX to remain relevant in our increasingly digital world. Customers want it, technology can provide it, so it’s time for telcos to deliver for the benefits to all.

About Mobilise

Mobilise is a leading provider of SaaS solutions to the telecommunications industry. Focused on delivering highly engaging digital-first service propositions with excellent customer experience, Mobilise has a proven track record, deep industry knowledge and a team of specialists to support clients to building and executing transformational strategies. 

Clients range from large corporate organizations with over 100,000 employees to small enterprises with under 20 employees. Mobilise has a deep knowledge of the telecoms business model and our experience includes working with over 40 service providers across eight markets for brands including Virgin, Dixon’s Carphone, Red Bull Mobile, Manx Telecom and Freenet.

Hamish is the founder and CEO of London-based Mobilise. Hamish has day-to-day operational responsibility of Mobilise but also participates in Product Development and Sales. Hamish is a hands-on telecoms entrepreneur with 19 years’ experience supporting Tier 1 & Tier 2 International Telecommunications Operators. Before founding Mobilise, he worked as a consultant launching and growing start-up telecoms companies primarily in the MVNO domain. This included the launch of 8 MVNOs across 5 countries. His background is in technology, however, his management experience spans the end to end telecoms value chain, including in-depth knowledge of sales & marketing, commercial, finance, operations and technology functions. Hamish specialises in helping companies with digital transformation and establishing mobile app strategies.

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Overcoming IIoT Deployment Challenges Through eSIMs



IIoT Deployment Challenges

Industry 4.0 has been well and truly explosive for the last decade, and its growth doesn’t seem to be stopping. The Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) predicts that, by 2025, there will be more than 25 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connections globally. While IoT has transformed industry, there are still challenges when it comes to streamlining deployment. Here, Amr Houssein, managing director of eSIM pioneer Mobilise, explains how eSIMs complete IoT connectivity.

In short, the industrial IoT (IIoT) enables machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, making manufacturing facilities smart and digitalised. By using sensors to capture factory floor data, manufacturers gain a comprehensive overview of their facility to optimise processes, improve machine performance, reduce waste and energy consumption, and result in less unexpected downtime. But what is the technology behind getting connected?

Getting Manufacturers Connected

Connecting IoT devices over a mobile network is referred to as the cellular IoT. Using existing mobile networks removes the need for a separate, dedicated infrastructure. Instead, a range of networks can be used — whether that’s 3G, 4G, 5G, or IoT-specific networks. 

LTE-M and NB-IoT are networks designed specifically for IoT connections. While LTE- M offers a lower price point and voice and SMS support, NB-IoT offers low power, low data usage for long range and reliability. Whichever network is used, connecting devices to the cellular IoT through the traditional SIM cards presents several challenges for manufacturers.

Deployment Difficulties

An IoT SIM card has traditionally been responsible for connecting a device to the network. But it doesn’t come without its challenges.

IoT SIM cards typically only allow a device to connect to one carrier network. When deploying devices globally across multiple networks, or working with devices that are involved in the supply chain or logistics that move across the world, this creates a logistical nightmare. Manufacturers must source and distribute physical SIMs for a local network for each device.

As SIM cards need to be removable for maintenance or carrier changes, IoT devices cannot be sealed, meaning that harsh operating conditions are more likely to damage a device. There are also the added concerns that having a removable element exposes IoT devices to risks of service theft.

eSIMs are the Future

While IoT SIM cards do the job, these challenges are hard to ignore when there’s a solution on hand. eSIMs, or embedded SIMs, are a digital alternative to physical SIMs, connecting devices to a network over the air. Initially adopted for wearable devices and connected cars, eSIMs are also now a key component of the IIoT. 

Unlike physical SIM cards, eSIMs download network credentials onto a chip on the printed circuit board of an IoT device through over-the-air provisioning. Eliminating the physical component of a SIM makes the entire network onboarding process remote, which has a wealth of benefits for manufacturers. 

eSIMs eliminate the problems associated with IoT SIM cards — the device’s network is determined after the production, shipment and deployment of an IoT device. Manufacturers can easily swap connectivity providers as and when required for ultimate flexibility depending on device location or subscription cost.

Provisioning network credentials over the air means the eSIMs are connected and maintained remotely. There’s no need to physically handle a device to make changes to its connectivity, making devices more durable and less prone to environmental damage.

In terms of security, an eSIM’s location on a small chip on the circuit board means it’s not removable. Being physically soldered to the device eliminates risks of physical theft of the SIM, as it’s hard to identify and impossible to remove.

In this way, IoT devices can be deployed without any local human control of the connectivity — all responsibility lies with the manufacturer’s service provider (SPs). Mobilise’s HERO platform supplies SPs with a cloud based eSIM orchestration layer, to enable eSIM provisioning, management, enterprise billing and CRM systems. This means SPs take responsibility for managing subscriptions, taking the pain out of cellular connectivity for manufacturing users.

While IIoT is nothing new for manufacturers, making it more streamlined, convenient and digital is key to its continued success. Adopting eSIM technology alleviates some of the pain points manufacturers are experiencing, making operations slicker and opening a world of opportunity for more efficient processes.

About Mobilise

Mobilise is a leading provider of SaaS solutions to the telecommunications industry. Focused on delivering highly engaging digital-first service propositions with excellent customer experience, Mobilise has a proven track record, deep industry knowledge and a team of specialists to support clients to building and executing transformational strategies. 

Clients range from large corporate organisations with over 100,000 employees to small enterprises with under 20 employees. Mobilise has a deep knowledge of the telecoms business model and our experience includes working with over 40 service providers across eight markets for brands including Virgin, Dixon’s Carphone, Red Bull Mobile, Manx Telecom and Freenet.

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Amid Mobile Operator Price Increases, Here’s How to Avoid the Hike



Mobile Operator Price Increases

Feeling the Pinch?

The rising cost of living is difficult to avoid. April 2022 saw food prices increase by 6.7 per cent, the highest petrol prices on record and inflation rise to a staggering nine per cent. As millions of customers see their mobile tariffs soar, Ross Slogrove, UK country manager at cloud calling specialist Ringover reveals his advice for avoiding the price hike.

From July 1, 2022, Virgin Media will hit its 3 million customers with a price hike of 1.5 per cent. So, if a customer signed up to, let’s say, a £30-a-month tariff after May 5, 2022, they will pay an additional 45 pence each month. EE has already increased its prices by 2.7 per cent each year — or £11.30 if you have a £35-a-month contract — while O2, Three and Vodafone are all increasing by 2.5 per cent.

Pay-as-you-go prices are also taking a hit. From July 2022, call costs with Three will jump from 10p to 35p per minute. The cost of sending a text will double, affecting the 14 per cent of Brits that use a pre-pay mobile.  

Given Brits are already battling with price hikes from every angle, these costs mount up. 45 per cent of UK households have at least two mobile phones, while according to Ofcom, just two per cent don’t have one at all. And then there’s the toll on businesses, with many still relying on mobile packages to keep employees connected. 

Take a Hike

When a mobile contract comes to an end, it’s common for that tariff to be rolled onto a monthly rolling contract at the same price, even though the customer has paid off their handset. Research from Which? shows that customers who allow their mobile phone contracts to roll over without enquiring about better deals could lose up to £100 a year.

Ditching a contract mid-term and without penalties isn’t possible. However, consumers should evaluate whether their minimum contract period has ended if they’re considering switching. If a customer was on a standard 24-month contract that’s rolled on after this, they’re probably over-paying and need to negotiate a better deal.

Claiming that mobile phone networks overcharged UK businesses and consumers by £7.6 million last year, BillMonitor can provide analysis into the best mobile tariffs for your needs. Money Saving Expert has an easy-to-use price comparison tool, too.

Ditch the Big Guys

Some research into mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) may also be worthwhile. Unlike the “Big Four” mobile network operators (MNOs) in the UK, MVNOs do not own their own wireless infrastructure, so use radio networks operated by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. They include the likes of Giffgaff,Tesco Mobile and Sky. 

In Which?’s Annual Mobile Network Survey of the best perceived mobile operators, O2, EE, Vodafone and Three were outperformed by MVNOs. Three fared poorly in the customer survey, receiving the lowest rating for network reliability with customers unimpressed by its technical support. 

In contrast, virtual networks Smarty and iD, which both use Three’s infrastructure, were among the highest scorers in Which?’s table with customers applauding the networks’ value for money. Three of the highest scoring carriers in Which?’s survey were Giffgaff, Tesco and Sky, which all use O2’s infrastructure.

Head to the Cloud

Shopping around and switching providers will save consumers from the Big Four’s price hikes, but what about businesses? It may be best for them to ditch traditional telephony altogether. 

There are currently 4.98 million business landline numbers in use, according to Ofcom figures. However, this is expected to drop below 2 million by 2024, from a high of 8 million in 2013. With the switch off of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) imminent, businesses that rely heavily on calling should consider an internet-based alternative.

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is often a cheaper alternative to traditional telephony. While a traditional landline phone system sends voice communications via an analogue PBX system, VoIP phone systems transmit voice calls over the internet as data packets to bring voice and data capabilities together on a single network, eliminating the need for separate lines and providers for each.

A company using a VoIP service doesn’t need to work with multiple service providers for its office, mobile, and data services, IT support is reduced and hardware and installation needs are condensed. Furthermore, because users are no longer tied down to a particular country, address or phoneline for their communications, companies can save on the cost of international charges.

With the cost of living rising, price hikes are difficult to avoid. However, consumers must check in on their current mobile contracts or they risk losing money. For businesses, it’s time to move on from the landline and onto more cost-effective, future-proofed alternatives.

About Ringover

A leader in cloud communications, Ringover seamlessly combines unlimited calling, group messaging and video conferencing into one easy-to-use app. No expertise is needed to set up and integrates with your CRM or helpdesk tools. Within a few clicks, you’ve gained access to all the data you need to enhance your call centre or sales team’s performance and boost customer engagement.

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The Big Tech Telecoms Convergence: Dream or Disaster?



Big Tech telecoms

Big Tech’s entry into telecoms is shaking up the industry

2021 was a huge year for tech giants and telecoms with Google, Verizon and most recently Amazon Web Services (AWS) all announcing plans to enter the telecoms space. The convergence of Big Tech telecoms is nothing new and each company has their own plans to disrupt the current landscape for the better. But is this disruption a dream or disaster for telcos? Here, Hamish White, CEO of digital-first telecom software provider Mobilise, navigates the benefits and drawbacks of the growing tech-telecom convergence.

Despite seeming similar, in many ways telecoms and Big Tech are polar opposites. While Big Tech tends to position itself at the forefront of innovation, paving the way for new upcoming capabilities, the telecoms industry tends to stick to its traditional but stable principles and ways of working. But could a unification be just what’s needed?

Better Together

Big Tech’s entry into telecoms has a wealth of potential for service providers (SPs) and their customers. Big Tech has what many providers are lacking — the resources, financial resources and culture to accelerate the pace of innovation of the telecoms industry by applying a Big Tech approach product development and improvement. Big Tech brings its own way of innovating to the market, resulting in quicker, better products and services that smaller providers can tap into too. 

This has a positive knock-on effect on consumers, who ultimately receive a better experience from their SP. Through their advance data management techniques, Big Tech has the potential to gather, organise and present more customer data from various sources. The more a SP knows about its customer, the greater the level of personalisation they can offer. A greater level of personalisation leads to more relevant marketing, great customer satisfaction and increased customer lifetime value (CLV) for the SP. A win-win for both the SP and the customer.

Personalisation is complicated to deliver, often requiring significant investment on new technology and involvement from stakeholders across the business. As a result, smaller and medium-sized providers often cannot offer personalisation services on par with Big Tech or Tier 1 SPs, leaving them uncompetitive and missing out entirely on new opportunities.

With the help of Mobilise’s HERO platform, small and medium-sized SPs can now deliver personalisation on par with industry leaders. This is because they have access to all customer data needed for such services through one central location which also houses an orchestration layer which acts as a single entry point between interconnected systems in order to capture the data required for hyperpersonalisation.

Fair Share

Despite the potential benefits that Big Tech could bring to the telecoms market, there’s also shared concerns from mobile operators all over the world. SPs’ ongoing dissatisfaction with Big Tech’s lack of investment into the physical telecommunications infrastructure has been documented publicly.

In December 2021, the Financial Times published an open letter from Europe’s 13 biggest SPs addressing tech giants to demand a greater contribution to network investment. Why is this so crucial?

Data from Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report revealed the top six tech firms are generating over 56 per cent of global network traffic. Their entire business model and profitability relies on the infrastructure funded by SPs, but despite their successes, they’re still not contributing investment that is commensurate with the gains they’ve reaped. 

What’s more, telecoms’ frustration with Big Tech’s lack of infrastructural investment is without even considering the latest layer of the problem: Big Tech’s attempt to launch products and services that directly compete with SPs. 

A Market Monopoly

Several tech giants are developing or already have developed telecoms business areas. There’s concern from regulators, SPs and consumers that if Big Tech’s expansion continues, they could monopolise the entire technology sphere.

From a SP’s perspective, monopolisation has already begun. AWS and Microsoft have both acquired SAS-SM accreditation, required for the cloud deployment of one of telecoms’ latest development: eSIMs. eSIMs allow SPs to onboard subscribers remotely, virtually performing the traditional functions of a physical SIM card, directly provisioning a device over the internet.

While the intentions behind AWS and Microsoft’s acquisition of this accreditation are unclear now, it’s possibly linked to the development of eSIMs for Internet of Things (IoT) use cases covering sectors like manufacturing and supply chains, where their use improves operational efficiency. 

While Big Tech is free to do this, and has the technology and resources to develop products quickly, this approach of cherry picking certain areas of the telecoms network could negatively affect the industry. 

Double-Edged Sword

The implications of Big Tech’s lack of infrastructural investment is concerning. Currently, SPs are entirely responsible for the physical infrastructure that keeps our modern digital societies connected. But as of yet, Big Tech’s shown no interest in supporting this activity.

If Big Tech continues to only cherry pick certain elements of telecoms it wishes to enter, it could jeopardise the revenue SPs can make from their products and services, reducing investment availability, which could then place the critical infrastructure under threat. 

There’s buzz from regulators and consumers around the impact of Big Tech’s potentially anti-competitive app store practices. In the US, in February 2022 the Senate passed the Open App Markets Act, which seeks to remove the control of Apple and Google over their app stores, creating a more accessible and diverse market. Similarly, in the EU, in October 2022 the Digital Markets Act will be adopted, banning practices used by Big Tech to gatekeep information and encourage competition. 

While these steps promote consumer choice and a fair market, regulators also must consider how Big Tech’s partial entry into telecoms could have a detrimental impact on infrastructure development. The juxtaposition we see is that Big Tech could provide much needed innovation to the telecoms industry, but the infrastructure required to support this innovation won’t exist. Mobilise offers a suite of advisory services, including strategy and regulatory policy consultancy, to assist SPs and regulators in navigating these uncertain times and to see Big Tech as an opportunity rather than a threat.

The tech-telecom convergence will undoubtedly shake up the market. But more consideration needs to be taken to ensure infrastructure investment remains stable and the market remains competitive.

About Mobilise

Mobilise is a leading provider of SaaS solutions to the telecommunications industry. Focused on delivering highly engaging digital-first service propositions with excellent customer experience, Mobilise has a proven track record, deep industry knowledge and a team of specialists to support clients to building and executing transformational strategies.

Clients range from large corporate organisations with over 100,000 employees to small enterprises with under 20 employees. Mobilise has a deep knowledge of the telecoms business model and our experience includes working with over 40 service providers across eight markets for brands including Virgin, Dixon’s Carphone, Red Bull Mobile, Manx Telecom and Freenet.

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