Is 2013 proving to be the year of 4G?

Now that we’re well into 2013 we can see that over recent months 4G has been playing heavily on the minds of service providers.

The auction’s been settled and the key players have each been awarded a slice of the 4G pie, so now it’s time to look at what this will really mean for the telecoms landscape and its customers.

It’s no doubt that the introduction of 4G is exciting but real consumer take-up is not going to be rapid because customers are locked into contracts, tariffs are high and devices limited. What service providers will be doing now is intensifying efforts to pre-empt customers moving to new services in late 2013 and early 2014.

And this increased focus on customer retention could see a revolution in how service providers reduce churn. Historically, departing customers were met by the exit team but the real change now that the licences have been awarded will be how customer experience and value is managed by everyone, including the churning customer. Each person in the chain becomes a retention agent. Now we’ll see a departing customer given the capability to build their own retention package and service providers making proactive personalised offers based on the lifetime value of that particular customer.

The B2B line of business is rapidly becoming a growth lever for service providers. The digital enterprise customer can use fast, ubiquitous networks to enhance efficiency, reduce cost bases and outsource business processes that do not deliver competitive differentiation. That brings a dependency on communications service providers that can do much more than provide connectivity and voice minutes. At the very least, CSPs must offer compelling, converged services that reach deep into the IT service world with cloud services, storage and outsourced technical support. We have even heard of a CSP being asked to provide ambulance services as part of a corporate contract.

But a surge in large enterprise deals is going to put a huge strain on service providers because current systems for complex order management simply aren’t fit for purpose. What’s there currently tends to be a retrofitted one size fits all consumer system that’s insufficient for handling multi-national, multi-departmental relationships. The impact of getting enterprise customer experience wrong is at least twofold. The high value represented by each, individual order means the financial impact it would have on a service provider if things didn’t go well would be significant. Furthermore they would need to invest enormous capital in planning and building the networks required to fulfil these massive orders, again leaving potential for huge revenue losses.

So as 4G becomes commonplace across the UK and more cities get the go-ahead, it’ll be interesting to assess how the different service providers go about coping with the change. We’ll have to watch this space but reducing customer churn will, as always, remain a topmost priority.

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