Partnerships the key to wholesale biz

Wholesale carriers need to partner smartly to grow the business, and look to the mobile sector for clues on how to move forward, experts said Tuesday.
Partnership was a recurring theme during the opening sessions at Capacity Asia in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday among wholesale carriers as they discussed growth opportunities for Asia.
“It’s a good time to be a wholesaler in Asia, as long as we partner and don’t eat each other’s lunch,” said Diarmid Massey, VP of Carrier Services, Global Markets, at Cable & Wireless Worldwide, during a wholesale panel session.
Andrew Kwok, senior VP of International Business at Hutchison Global Communications, agreed, though with the caveat that finding a good partner is difficult for carriers.
“It’s like trying to find a good wife. Everyone wants to be your girlfriend but maybe she’s only looking at your Mercedes,” he said.
The key to partnerships is in understanding where wholesale fits in the evolving IP-driven ecosystem, particularly in regards to mobile Internet, said Massey.
“I think we’re in danger of losing track of who’s driving the demand. It’s our kids. They’re driving more demand with their mobile devices than enterprises are with videoconferencing,” he said, adding that this was true in both developed and developing markets.
“The logic [for wholesale carriers] needs to be that the internet generation – the people under 30 – are using devices in ways we don’t understand,” Massey said. “We have to work out how to monetize that as a wholesale business, and understand where we fit in that whole ecosystem. We need to stop trying to do everything ourselves and focus investment on what we’re good at.”
Rozaimy Rahman, EVP of TM Global, offered cloud computing as an example of how carriers can focus on their strengths. “The only thing telcos lack are the apps,” he said. “We already have the consumers and the database, and we know what they want – we need to find the right partner to come in and help us monetize that.”
That in turn means an opportunity to leverage carrier strength in data centers and the associated reliability, quality and security requirements, said Vinod Kumar, President and COO of Tata Communications.
“I don’t think the value [of cloud computing] is being created by companies like Apple and Google. It’s being created by the entire ecosystem,” Kumar said. “We have to fight for our share of that, and low latency, QoS and diversity are where we add value.”
Kwok of HGC added that the fixed-line sector could take a few lessons from the mobile industry when it comes to partnerships.
“They have initiatives like WAC, where operators are joining up in these alliances to get more involved in the application space by gaining back control of the platform that runs these apps,” he said. “They have the GSMA to drive all this. The fixed-line world doesn’t have anything like that.”