This year has been something of a milestone in my personal technology user roadmap. First, I gained a 4G plan and smartphone (or LTE for the purists among us), and more recently my apartment was wired up with fibre optic technology that I hope will prove be an improvement on my previous slightly temperamental ADSL service.
Events in Norway have raised the alarming prospect that this market could be reduced to a duopoly. This situation emerged after Tele2 failed to win an LTE licence in Norway and was therefore forced to consider options for its unit. These deliberations have now culminated in a sale of Tele2 Norway to rival TeliaSonera, meaning that TeliaSonera and former incumbent Telenor will more or less carve up the Norwegian market between them.
Every event I go to and every conversation I have with operators tends to at some point touch on how operators are putting the customer first and how customer experience is at the forefront of everything they do. But time and time again, this still fails to be reflected in how they treat their customers when it comes down to the personal contact level.
Consolidation is on everyone's mind in Europe at the moment. Indeed, it's hard to escape talk of mergers and acquisitions as a number of European markets grapple with proposals by mobile network operators to join forces with others. What really stands out how little unity there seems to be over if and how consolidation should be achieved.
The landscape for mobile virtual network operators in Europe is very diverse, with some countries having MVNO penetration above 15 per cent (Norway, Denmark, Germany, Belgium) and some others having a very low MVNO penetration under 5 per cent (Ireland, Portugal, Sweden Austria, Finland). In order to succeed, an MVNO has to provide something that adds value for all parties concerned.
If most people want free Wi-Fi access at an airport, conference centre or hotel, then it really is staggering that this is often still not the case. I have just been put off booking one particular hotel, for example, because it promised a whole "15 minutes of free Wi-Fi a day."
It's not always easy to condense an event into a few words, but in the case of tthis year's TM Forum Live, key buzzwords immediately spring to mind: NFV--the much-discussed Network Functions Virtualisation--big data analytics and the digital enterprise.
More years ago than I care to remember, I journeyed to Nice in France to participate for the first time in what was then called Management World, organised by the Telemanagement Forum. My main reason for going? In all honesty, to hear EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou discuss the business plan behind his easyMobile venture.
I and many other consumers have benefited massively from competitive landscapes shaped by price aggressors such as 3 UK and Free Mobile. At the same time, operators have suffered from price wars, and in some markets are trying to consolidate in order to reduce the impact of competition.
Operators know in their hearts that both existing and potential subscribers probably hate them, because customers invariably find something to grumble about when it comes to any kind of supplier. Mobile phone users watch heart-warming TV campaigns with a cynical sneer and remain convinced that the operator is just out to get them--or at least a sizeable part of their wallet.