Thomas Vasen is Subscriber Experience Evangelist at Procera Networks. He will be speaking on strategies to monetize data at AfricaCom next month. He shares his insights on the market in an interview ahead of the event.
AfricaCom: What is Proceraísposition in Africaís market?
Thomas Vasen:Procera is an established player on the continent with deployments by mobile operators, fixed ISPs and local governments. We offer a wide variety of platforms to ensure that we have a suitable solution for everyone. Customer use-cases are primarily focused on controlling traffic on the network, but peering traffic management and fair-usage policies are gaining popularity. We have also noticed that emerging market operators are focused on maximizing the subscriber experience. They take a more proactive approach to improve customer satisfaction and, as a result, we are seeing increased demand for the solutions we offer.
A: What do you think will be this yearís most game-changing development in Africaís telecoms?
TV: Perhaps a real attractive internet.org alternative will emerge that will drive users to become more interested in mobile Internet usage. Operators must start to develop new skill sets to successfully grow and should focus on value-added services, such as micro packages for specific value and OTT services.
But the biggest driver for growth will be the availability of affordable, but rich enough, handsets.
A: What services will enable telecom operators to generate revenue from data?
TV: Operators need to stick to a usage-based pricing model and find ways for users to start using more data. It is important to have sufficient coverage and network quality in relevant places and remind subscribers of the services that are available to them.
The key for operators is not to invent services, but to quickly identify and accelerate adoption of new trends. Operators need tools to monitor the network and understand traffic to be able to grow. A great strategy is to launch app specific data packages for those users who cannot afford general data bundles at an affordable price point. In addition, any services that facilitate trade of some sort will be attractive for users.
A: What do you estimate as the most pressing communications needs for customers in Africa?
TV: The intercontinental cables have always been a scarce resource in Africa. OTT service providers from North America or Europe will not be able to deliver the highest of quality services simply because of the long distance between the continent and their data centers. Local cashing solutions offer a short-term remedy until more global transit capacity is available at affordable rates.
A: What aspect(s) of the customer experience should operators make a priority in Africa?
TV: There is a lot of talk about the experience of the onboarding and the support process in Europe. I recommend focusing on the quality of services delivered instead. Make sure that services are fully functional in all locations on the first attempt enabling customer to immediately benefit. Itís not only about having coverage; itís about providing enough bandwidth and high enough quality of experience in the right locations.
A: What tools should operators use to enhance customer loyalty in Africa?
Delivering good quality is the foundation to earn loyalty. Even though there will be fierce price battles to attract the lower classes online, those consumers will be very sensitive to their quality of experience given the expense in relation to income levels. Their expectations need to be exceeded before loyalty can be created.
A: In your opinion what are the most interesting debates to expect at AfricaCom this year?
TV: How is NFV helping the region to become more forward thinking, move to a newer generation network right away, and offer advanced control of services to maximize new business growth?
I am also interested in any discussions on Net-Neutrality. I admit that Iím not fully up-to-date across all of the regions, but Iíd like to learn more about the rapid changes I see taking place here and in other emerging regions like India.
Thomas Vasenís presentation will take place in the session on New Revenue Streams on Wednesday 18th November at AfricaCom. For more information on the programme click here
Topics such as expanding infrastructure sharing to the radio access network (RAN) and opening up the market to open source-based network infrastructure are far more relevant to Africa than 5G, argues Bradley Shaw.