MEF Advisor Ross Flynn shares an overview of several panels from the recent MEF CONNECTS Wholesale where analysts, trade organisations, mobile operators, content providers, messaging companies and many other stakeholders discussed the state of the wholesale sector.
MEF Connects Wholesale 2022 has come and gone and one of the central points of interest was seeing if trends that developed during the Covid pandemic would stick or if we would see a return pre-pandemic behaviour.
Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier was the primary sponsor of the event, with 4 different sponsored sessions to get to the bottom of this question and what became quickly apparent is that neither answer is quite true. While we are seeing traffic pick up where it had fallen off it seems that consumer behaviour has truly changed, meaning that every player from top to bottom of the value chain must adapt and find the opportunities in this new, unfamiliar landscape.
When the Covid Pandemic hit all the way back in 2019, consumer behaviour shifted in every conceivable way. Even now, when there should be a return to the supposed ‘old normal’ we know that this is not the case. Things have been changed irrevocably.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in Deutsche Telekom’s sponsored session ‘What Does it Take to be Successful in Wholesale 5G Roaming?’, which assembled a cast of real experts in the roaming scene.
At our Wholesale event last year, we saw traffic had not reached pre-pandemic levels and while this year, there has been obvious growth, it is obvious that behaviour has changed. According to one of this panel’s speakers, Francesco Votta (Senior Product Manager – 5G Roaming Enablement – Telekom Deutschland), growth is not recovering in every region at quite the same speed. While Europe has certainly reached pre-pandemic levels of traffic, he has seen that other regions are still slightly below where they used to be. All in all, traffic should be back to pre-pandemic level by 2023, if not earlier.
One of the central points of these sessions, was discovering new opportunity in these uncertain times. This could be seen in another Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier session: ‘CPaaS: A Viable Opportunity For Wholesalers?’. While, as expected, MEF Connects Wholesale was very much focused on voice, Michael Power from Engage Mobile, led this fascinating session on an area of opportunity that is too often neglected from the operator side, CPaaS. Telcos such as Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier are realising that as the world is becoming more and more digitalized, there will be a need for more ways to communicate.
No single channel of communication will win in the future. Some operators are even beginning to see CPaaS services such as WhatsApp as complementary to traditional telco channels as they add additional use cases. Irena Markovic (Product Manager – Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier), hit the nail on the head when she said during the panel that SMS will always stay as a fallback for these CPaaS providers, leading to a better experience for the customer.
Both her and Scott Warner (Director of Emerging Services – S&BTS) seemed to agree, that adding additional business opportunities such as CPaaS options, allows a telco to provide a more consultatory role. This allows operators to become much closer to enterprises.
Finally, this brings us to the last session of the whole event with closing Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier sponsored session ‘Security in Wholesale’.
With security you must assume there is always a vulnerability. Hacking attacks have been growing over the last decade so there will always be new challenges in this department. Andras Levak, (Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier) lead this session and showed how in this new, uncertain landscape, hackers are turning what they do into a business and we as an industry must respond.
We must use both 5G and legacy network types in tandem, to increase security as a whole. With this unfamiliar landscape there are plenty of opportunities, but this session kept us in the real world by reminding us of the many risks one must be prepared for.