Far from being written off because of the growth in mobile, Africa’s fixed line operators have a golden opportunity to capitalise on the fibre revolution taking place on the continent, according to billing provider FTS.
For many years it was widely believed that it would be mobile that would ‘open up’ Africa. However, the fixed line operators, with their existing networks and infrastructure in place, are now perfectly placed to capitalise on the influx of fibre and transform their networks and offerings. New services and experiences will be made available to consumers and new revenue opportunities will be created for the operators.
Through the use of fibre optic transmission-based networks, African wireline operators have endless opportunities for the utilisation of telecommunications technologies, and the ability to ensure high quality service. A fibre optic transmission-based network has the potential to reach out into some areas for the first time, or at least the first time in an affordable and far-reaching way.
For carriers the continued investment in the existing infrastructure, combined with the roll-out of fibre, will create a high return on investment by providing economical transportation of existing services such as telephony, mobile, broadband Internet, IPTV and other data services. For consumers it will open up access to services that have either been unavailable or very expensive.
David O’Reilly, Sales Director at FTS, explains, “The arrival of fibre in Africa is an exciting and significant development for the African population, many of whom will find telephony and internet charges more affordable. Operators will be able to increase their revenues by offering new services to the market. They will also be able to reduce costs by consolidating and collapsing their existing legacy networks onto a new IP/MPLS core network.”
Potential new revenue opportunities from installing a fibre optic network include offering transmission services to cellular operators and ISPs; providing legacy and NGN services to government authorities and public bodies; as well as businesses at local, regional and international levels and private consumers. The new networks will also support a range of advanced, revenue-generating services including high speed Internet (especially to rural areas), IPTV, VoIP, cellular backhauling, being a carrier of carriers, and a range of online services, including e-government, e-banking, e-commerce, e-learning and e-healthcare.
However, these benefits and revenue opportunities will not appear automatically and operators need to make sure that they are fully equipped to take advantage of them. One area that can help true convergence for incumbent operators providing many lines of businesses (such as fixed, mobile, VSAT, fibre, interconnections, leased lines, content, IPTV, governmental services and so on) is the billing system. Smart telecom billing systems provide the ability for cross-sell and up-sell offerings – ensuring that convergence goes beyond just one bill for all services.
“African operators, especially those owning fibre networks, have a multitude of opportunities, but they need to ensure that they are ready,” explains O’Reilly. “The right billing system will mean that they’ll be able to generate revenue from existing networks with new personalised applications, content and services.”