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During the online MEF Connects Innovators event, MEF strategy and business development advisor Suzy Menneret hosted a panel discussion exploring how wholesale carriers can spur innovation in their business and find new ways to monetize.

Innovation has been on the agenda of wholesale carriers for quite some time. As their traditional business becomes heavily commoditized, the need to transform and innovate is more prevalent than ever. Yet, how is it achievable? Or even attainable at all?

So far, the pandemic has had some positive impact on business; on the one hand, voice and internet traffic had been rising substantially, but on the other, traditional wholesale segments such as roaming have suffered. How then to move ahead and invigorate monetizable and innovative ideas into wholesale telecoms to secure long term sustainability?

Watch the Wholesale Panel in full

A panel of very experienced and cheerful personalities of the wholesale telecommunications space gathered on February 23 to discuss this topic, namely:

  • Anurag Aggarwal, Director – Messaging Service at Tata Communications
  • Brendan Cleary, CEO of Cellusys
  • Frederic Schepens, CEO of MTN GlobalConnect
  • Ignacio Garcia Comin, Director of Digital and Mobile Services at Telefonica Global Solutions
  • Patrick George, EVP Product and Business Development at iBasis

The panel was also co-moderated by Isabelle Paradis, president of Hot Telecom.

To kick-start the session, Isabelle shared her double-trouble hot shot video highlighting the mantras that wholesalers should consider in today’s wholesale environment:

Monetization of wholesale innovation will eventually require a move towards a partnership mentality. For wholesalers, it will be easier to leverage innovative ideas developed by a network of ‘savvy and intelligent’ partners and scale them up, and generate revenues not only for wholesalers but for the entire ecosystem

  • Simplicity, i.e. simplifying their business
  • Automation with zero-touch end-to-end automation to facilitate OPEX reduction and facilitate interactions
  • Cloudification, a must-have in terms of connectivity and above
  • Diversification in terms of portfolio, customers, technology but also more importantly in terms of people
  • Resilience by embracing redundancy, modularity and adaptability

Ignacio continued by highlighting that in wholesale, as in many businesses, one needed to be humble and understand the market and the customers that we serve. Partners are important but most importantly, what makes a company move on is the team that supports it.

Bouncing back on Ignacio’s comments, Anurag added that it was indeed critical to keep an eye on what is happening in the market. If you consider wholesale, those who are far ahead of the game are the fraudsters. They are the ones who – in a way – push the industry to innovate and come up with blockchain mechanisms for example, or other specific solutions, to counter fraud. Therefore, it is a never ending race that pushes wholesalers to constantly innovate.

Innovation takes place in many ways:

  • Innovation is embodied in solutions or service offerings, with Network as a Service such as highlighted by Frederic Schepens of MTN Global, or state-of-the-art platforms, VAS roaming hubs or roaming outsourcing, messaging and voice interconnect solutions, virtual data center services, IoT, and services cloudification
  • Innovation takes form in the end-to-end digitization of processes and services to provide unique customer experiences
  • Innovation adds value to customers: As Patrick George mentioned, ‘you need to innovate, not for the sake of innovating but to add value to customers’, i.e. ease the life of operators and provide them with value added services with the help of partners in various fields of expertise, such as security.
  • Innovation takes the entire ecosystem of players in mind to make sure it is both ‘secure and trusted’ as Brendan at Cellusys mentioned. ‘Telcos have an envious position which allows them to provide ubiquitous communications to customers’.

Monetization of wholesale innovation will eventually require a move towards a partnership mentality. For wholesalers, it will be easier to leverage innovative ideas developed by a network of ‘savvy and intelligent’ partners and scale them up, and generate revenues not only for wholesalers but for the entire ecosystem. ‘As enablers in the middle of the telco ecosystem, wholesalers have the relationships, the experience, and the solutions to create new interactions between the different players’, commented Isabelle.

Security is gaining traction as a way to monetize future businesses due to the increase of attacks and regulations, and the ability of wholesalers to protect the data of their customers. According to Patrick George, ‘security is key’. Wholesalers have a global DNA and are able to exchange good practices with customers, and partners among the mobile ecosystem. They can provide a faster response towards fraudster thanks to the added value of sharing practices and experience with partners.

Referring to messaging, as fraudsters are getting increasingly clever in using state of the art tools and technology, and as new players and new business models are appearing, partnerships are becoming essential to secure future ways of monetization.

In one word, partnerships is what will enable future monetization streams; people and relationships will make the difference; agility, inclusion and open mindedness will help the wholesale and partner ecosystem further.

The good thing is, MEF is all about partnerships, ecosystems and people. Get in touch with me to find out how you can join the wholesale group community to hear more about how we can move those lines further together!

Suzy Menneret

MEF Advisor


Available on Demand

Digital transformation is hitting consumers and enterprises like never before. But what does it mean for mobile; the experience at the ‘centre’ of it all? Innovators are at work to bring us a new future, now. This is a chance to learn, engage, collaborate & challenge the innovators of MEF.

Watch all of the panels and keynote presentations from MEF Connect Innovation