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Telecom Insiders Unsure About Their Future

New research findings from STL has found that the vast majority of telecoms industry professionals lack confidence that Telcos are set up to cope with the threat from new internet and IP-based services.

Over 550 telecoms industry insiders expressed their concerns in the survey, part of a new market study 'Telco 2.0TM - How can telcos make money in an IP-based world?'

The survey shows that the majority of telecoms industry insiders now believe that telcos need to dramatically alter their business models if they are to prosper in the Web 2.0 world. In particular, most industry professionals believe that Telcos need to be structurally separated into different businesses -- one focusing solely on the network, and the other on the retail and services business -- with external talent brought in to manage these businesses.

Simon Torrance, CEO of STL, commented: "The Telco industry has woken up to the threat posed by the internet and Web 2.0 business models. It now needs to address those issues."

STL surveyed over 550 industry insiders from Operators, IT vendors, analysts and disruptor's in Western Europe, North America and APAC. Key findings from the survey include:

- 75 percent of respondents lack confidence in Telcos' ability to create long-term sustainable growth in an IP-based world.

- 68 percent believe that Telcos have lost control of their core product - Voice and Messaging are no longer the exclusive domain of Operators.

- 76 percent felt that the controlling culture of Operators (manifested in a "walled garden" approach to services) is no longer viable and that the openness found in the internet world is far more relevant.

The survey also finds that the Telco industry needs to change its thinking, moving away from focusing on the technology to being more aware of end-user's needs. Those surveyed felt that only by bringing in senior management who are experienced in running profitable, customer-facing internet & IT businesses to manage their retail service businesses will Telcos be able to compete for customers more effectively.

"In Western Europe in particular, BT is held up as the clear leader. Having been forced to separate its businesses by the regulator, it has been bringing in new blood from outside the industry, and is doing relatively well as a result," Torrance continued. "The big challenge for all telcos -- fixed, mobile, BT included -- is in making money from retail services. Skills in creating attractive new services are severely lacking and this is where a radical change in thinking and organizational structure is needed."

Of the over 550 professionals surveyed the breakdown includes: 30 percent operators and service providers, 35 percent Network Equipment Providers and IT vendors, 11 percent Telco industry disrupter/start-ups and 25 percent Consultants, Analysts & Academics.

Disclosure: I participated in this study, and was one of the 550 people who contributed their insights about where the telecom sector needs to evolve.

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