Monday, February 25, 2013

Telcos call for more of the spoils

Emeka Obiodu, telco strategy analyst, Ovum

SPAIN: Today’s keynote speakers were united in extolling the merits of the mobile telecoms industry and calling for a more equitable share of the spoils. GSMA chairman and Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe led the charge and his view was reiterated by Cesar Alierta of Telefonica, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, Xi Guohua of China Mobile, and Vittorio Colao of Vodafone.

This challenge needs to be overcome to unlock capital investments into the industry. Stephenson noted that spectrum allocation should be used to drive technology adoption and laying the foundation for mobile to drive other industries.

Alierta warned that telcos pay for spectrum, pay tax, and then build the network. Yet they are pummeled by authorities. It was clear that he feels that over-the-top (OTT) players are freeloading and wants to encourage more open standards. That helps to explain the operator push for Firefox. He also held up the low prices paid at the UK LTE auction as evidence that the industry won't always accept its position. Guohua also continued the call for open standards.

Colao disclosed how the threat from OTT players encouraged Vodafone to create the Vodafone red tariff, which offers unlimited voice minutes and eliminates price arbitrage. He also wants regulators to cease regulation of retail and wholesale mobile traffic and stop favoring new entrants that cannot stand on their own. It is a theme he began last year, but now his view is gaining support.

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