Partner for innovation

Since operators are not the innovators, they need to delegate the risks and development of untested new services to third parties, panelists argued at a session on 'New business models' at ITU Telecom Asia earlier in the week in Bangkok.

Oracle chief architect and CTO Stephane Maes said that the mentality of having to build services in-house when no business case yet exists and always having carrier-grade reliability has to change.

Azwan Khan, TM International chief strategy officer, said telcos have shown that can't provide rapid innovation so they need to look at their strategic advantages and partner with companies that enable them to offer a complementary mix of access and services.

'The new model is about enablement, so it's key to understanding your user base,' Khan said. 'It's critical for operators to be able to offer the next wave of services and to have deep integration.'

While most on the panel instinctively nodded in agreement that QoS is important to a comment by Khan, Maes explained that while reliability is important, the level depends on the service. 'QoS shouldn't be the same for all services. Operators are not ready to offer services from small players and see if they take off.'

Maes sees a win-win opportunity for the two camps that have emerged in the telecoms space to cooperate and capitalize on their differences. He said the incumbents with large user bases and deep insight into their customers can partner with the new entrants that can't charge users directly, but have 'learned a lot of new tricks and have the machinery to launch new services quickly, then move on to the next project.'

He says operators need to be able to launch traditional telco services, including things like VoIP; services that aren't core, such as navigational apps in which they involve a partner or third party; and the long-tail of services that come and go quickly. 'This is were Web 2.0 comes in and allows service providers to offer services from the many small players.'

The key to addressing this, he said, not surprisingly for an Oracle executive, is having a service delivery platform environment that can automate new service launches, rolling them out in weeks or days like the internet players. 'They have to compete at internet speed or they will evolve toward commodity players.'