Treating telco like electricity

Whenever I look at telco provisioning projects, I can’t help but think at the complexity involved. Processes are lengthy, with multiple manual steps, mappings, data gathering, sequencing activities, approvals, settings and options. It’s no wonder that OSS evolutions and transformations are a nightmare for operators from the perspectives of effort, risk, cost, etc.

If we look at residential customer services, the 80% in Pareto’s 80:20 rule just want a connection to the Internet at the fastest speeds possible and possibly some additional over-the-top services like email. The base service sounds like electricity supply – a standardised service with almost no service choices and a consumption-based pricing model (perhaps with a fixed annual service and/or connection fee).

I can understand the thought processes. 1) From the product-owner perspective, a standardised service tends to commoditise. 2) From a network-operator perspective, the configurability of current networks make service complexity a necessity.

What if we were to counter those arguments in an effort to get to the electricity model? 1) Profit is the difference between income and cost. A commoditised service generates lower income, but cost and risk (particularly within OSS) reduce massively if the proposed model could be implemented. 2) If the network can’t be simplified because of the vendor offerings currently on the market then virtualised networks represent an opportunity to change this. To change entire protocols even. Even still, most network complexity is introduced because of the long-tail of “what-if” scenarios – “what if” a customer asks for feature X? But if feature X is introduced, does the revenue generated outweigh the total lifecycle cost of introducing it? Instead, can network features be pared back?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about why there is an opportunity for the SouthWest Airlines version of a telco, or why I’m in dreamland and it can never happen.

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