After last week’s passing of The Telecommunications Security Bill, and yesterday’s reports that Netflix was criticising plans that would allow broadband giants to charge tech companies for access to their networks, City A.M. spoke with Sara Rasmussen, chief commercial officer at Telness Tech, an end-to-end cloud platform that helps mobile operators innovate, about the current telecoms landscape, and what reforms need to be made as we move into 2022.
Q: How would you describe the current telecoms landscape?
Sara Rasmussen: The current mechanics of telecoms in the UK dates way back and lives off an infrastructure that was once majority state-owned. It’s costly and time consuming to innovate and it wasn’t really needed this side of history. So telecoms giants just haven’t done it.
However, the danger of not innovating is becoming more apparent as according to Telness research 64 per cent of consumers are likely to switch phone providers within the next three years if telecoms don’t invest and act fast.
The Telecommunications Security Bill passed last week in the UK and the government has intervened with large sums of money to speed up innovation within the industry – such as having 5G as the standard offering for customers.
Q: What is the difference between cultural and technological change in the context of telecoms?
Sara Rasmussen: Technical change can happen from one day to the next, but cultural change can take decades.
It’s incredibly hard to implement cultural change when you’re stuck in a time warp and a structure that’s dating back decades. Chief execs need to see the value in good culture, and modernise it to allow room for new talent and create more opportunities for innovation and advancement in the telecoms industry.
Q: How will change be brought about to cater for the long-term?
Sara Rasmussen: Once the big players in the telecoms industry realise that innovation is inevitable, they should invest heavily in evaluating their current market, tailoring and improving their services, advancing their tech and infrastructure, and ultimately meet the standards and requirements of a customer in the modern age.
Q: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for 2022?
Sara Rasmussen: The telecoms industry need to be more strategic in 2022 and for many more years to come. They need to ask their customer what they really want rather than lurching from one tactic to the next. Everyone needs to have their niche, either as the best in the network, or as a service provider that appeals to a specific group. Telecoms need to transform digitally, whilst still finding their way forward with innovation and placement in the marketplace.
However, change shouldn’t just happen for the sake of it. A lot of brands get by with praise for the bare minimum. For example, we see a lot of telecom giants talking about implementing 5G, but no-one is asking why? Why does it matter and what does it mean to the customer?
Q: What does any future legislation need?
Sara Rasmussen: There needs to be focus on solutions and benefits to the end user. Unfortunately, the reality is more likely to be that telecoms are thinking how they can comply in the most minimal way possible.
What’s needed to fill the gap between the potential gains for the customer and the more modest ambitions from telecoms is a change in mindset. The industry needs to look at this as an opportunity to fast-forward innovation, migrate to a tech first approach and provide better services for their customers.
I hope they become more bold and courageous and find their place in the market, and that this bill and recent investment into the UK telecoms industry leads to more partnerships and more collaboration with telecoms and tech.