LTE MENA 2014, which took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was all about empowering the connected generation with LTE networks – but what does that mean for the service providers and vendors who attended? Looking back on the event, the comments from service providers can be distilled into themes that had more to do with business than technology:
- How do we monetize the incremental investment in LTE capacity?
- What differentiated and disruptive services can we roll out?
- How do we roll out more services quickly and affordably?
One executive from Viva posed an open-ended question to the audience about who benefits most from the extensive investment in spectrum and capacity to provide customers with 4G speeds – is it the network operator or the application provider? Obviously, service providers are grappling with the challenge of monetizing their investments in next-generation technology and are trying to identify ways to capture more value from LTE networks.
Right before the conference, GSMA Intelligence released an interesting article on the state of mobile operator consolidation in EMEA that emphasized an important observation: While service providers continue to invest increasing amounts of capital expenditure in LTE networks, average revenue per user (ARPU) is flat. European operators do not seem to be the only ones concerned about this trend, as evidenced by the panel speakers in Dubai.
Delivering differentiated services at a faster rate was a major theme throughout the conference. During the Signaling Focus Day sessions, I spoke on a panel about using signaling interworking and service enhancement to use the control plane to move beyond basic connectivity. We covered strategies available today – including interoperability through signaling protocol interworking – that are proven to help accelerate network and service deployment, and enhance signaling message flows to provide more personalized and contextual connectivity.
Along the service delivery theme, an executive from Etisalat mentioned that one way to address the flat ARPU conundrum is by upping the number of services introduced to customers – and fast. Network functions virtualization (NFV) can help with that goal by reducing the cost, risk and time-to-market of new services, so there was considerable discussion around that topic as well. Still others talked about the untapped potential of leveraging network data analytics to provide a more personalized and richer user experience.
The bottom line is that, in many ways, LTE MENA was as much about the business of LTE as the technology – and that’s a good thing, since both are integral to maintaining good service.
We’ll be talking more about how service providers can accelerate time-to-market and time-to-revenue with Diameter signaling interworking strategies in an upcoming Infonetics webinar. Interested? Sign up today.