Showing posts with label MVNO regulation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MVNO regulation. Show all posts

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mobile Roaming Regulation 2014 Customer Experience

When speaking to the organisers I thought it would be a good idea to present at the Mobile Roaming Conference 2013 on the impact of the EC Roaming regulations 2014 from, you know, the customers' perspective. It was a good idea and the presentation was received very well... however writing it was a lot more painful than the usual presentation!

It was only right to add the cover after I had made it look so nice...
So the premise of the presentation was to look at the user experience (UX) of customers while roaming in the European Union and how this may change with the wider EC roaming regulations of 2014, which will of course affect MVNOs. Virtuser is pretty well placed to speak about this, as we were there for the first round of regulations, requiring last minute WAP pages and SMS gateway solutions, and we have helped numerous MVNOs comply with regulation with advice of charge, etc.
Apple was not the first App Store, by far, nor the first to do apps, but the won with great UX
So what is the customer experience at present of not just the roaming regulations, but also just roaming... well its not a good one and its very, how shall we say, pre-iPhone, in fact pre WAP: when did you ever have a great text based customer experience?
The present Roaming Regulation experience is pretty dire and text only mostly
Most roaming experiences start with an overly edited text message, with no number to call customer service for free as we are supposed (come on, we know standard customer care calls abroad are not free, right?), the SMS service is most likely completely disconnected from any core systems or customer care tool and is the main reason why there are so many dormant roamers: when did a text based UX last convince you to buy something?
The roaming experience gets worse, what happens when you go over your limit? 
Then what happens when you go over the €50 limit? the €5 per day all inclusive plans are brilliant, but after 10 days what do I do... well you opt out and one operator was good to their word (above) another shall remain nameless and rubbed their hands together and delivered me a huge dose of bill shock. So I had 10 days of roaming regulation induced sanity, the rest of the time I was back in the dark ages.
And the prize for the best Roaming Regulations advice of charge message is.... 
Vodafone UK has, as far as I am concerned, the best roaming track record post the roaming regulations, however what went on in the office the day they decided this message was the way forward? and this is the reduced version as I culd only fit four screenshots in...
Its not just the regulated messages that are a poor customer experience
After upgrading my iPhone on Vodafone 3 or 4 times, once it decided I needed to change my romaining plan of the last 4 or 5 years... you know, just to shake things up a little: So I arrive and get a message saying I will be charged about 120 times my usual national rate for data as I was no longer using its roaming tariff - great, I am in a taxi, trying not to be taken the scenic route and make a meeting and I have to spend 30 minutes on the phone to my Operator (10 of which were on hold). I finally get it sorted and two hours later get a message, but when did the new tariff set in? was my call that I made a note to check on my bill that was free really free (I never got round to it, but suspect I know the answer).

Then there is the wonderful experience, particular to Voda UK, where on an iPhone, a person in your contacts list calls you and their number appears, you have them saved in your phone, as you do with all your numbers, with the +44 international code... yet you go to call them back, and because voda has delivered the call without the international code you get an error code and a text saying you need to put "00" in front of the number... worse is, I have spoken to a few people in Voda about this and they all go "oh, yes, that..." with a look of "who is going to take the next year of their life to fix that and probably not succeed or be thanked for it anyway" ...and I pay a premium for this type of service?
post 2014 will be different as it will introduce competition and "it will do" will no longer be good enough
So why will 2014 be any different when the second wave of EC roaming Legislation comes in? well, for a start, it will introduce competition. Operators do not typically like this, nobody in business really does, but we accept it as we know it is what get's you out of bed in the morning to drive progress. This progress is also important, as it will mean an app driven, internet based experience with all that that brings: real time knowledge, social interaction and real time reviews and ratings: it will be as close to a proper experience as we can get.and will bring roaming from pre app store to smartphone experience in one swoop... finally!
post 2014 with bring a) competition, but moreover b) an smartfone, interactive web and app based CX
It is this competition, as counterintuitive as it may seem, that will drive the 70% of dormant users to adopt roaming. Just as with national data and widespread mobile usage of all services (voice text and data) it was not just lower rates that drove wide spread adoption: it was competition: people did not message universally until whatsapp and imessage. Yes the operators lost a base a small % of their base who were uber texters, but they gained a complete base of data users who needed text as a fall back and the total volume of texts increased. The same with data, many people needed the comfort of their home wifi and hotspots to make the jump to a data tariff.
So who will win? the counterintuitive answer is everybody, as this will drive out the 70% dormant roamers
TBH many roamers will stay with the even lower price drop of their native operator, but if they go over their €50 limit, or their boss/client suddenly decided they need to rewrite a presentation with videos in it (been there) they have mobile options that do not mean finding a cafe with internet.
But there is still a lot to think about, like data configs when you break out and when you go back, fortunately Virtuser has a Mobile Roaming regulation OTA Data setting solution for this
I spoke to a lot of people about this, in my own mini focus group and took some great phrases you see in the word cloud from industry insiders, regulators and users: like:

  • It will take a while for people to gain faith in roaming regulations, like a whole yearly cycle of travelling. 
  • Value is important. you do not want to pay €5 or even €2 every day, but you will happily pay €10 just for data the day your boss needed that presentation yesterday
  • legacy billing is no longer an excuse, in fact its the excuse we all got bored of and drove this regulation in the first place!
  • Technology challenges need to be overcome, like even UX, how do you go from one app (your native host operator) to the LBO app and configs and back again. It's bound to break at first! 
  • Competition is key, its no longer enough to ignore this, or your revenues will reflect this
  • Roaming is still a huge revenue by EBITDA % but will need a small investment in UX to grow
But these can be overcome, and whether you an an MNO or MVNO I have helped both through this before... so get in touch if you want to discuss apps and OTA settings and SMS gateways!
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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

emerging market MVNOs and spare capacity

Emerging Market MVNO markets 

An interesting comment on the MVNO explained page posted such an interesting question I have decided to post about it in its own right:

"Hello, thanks for your insight on MVNO. very insightful. However, my country has refused to license MVNO operations. i have held presentations, sent them documents, written articles, directed them to the PrepaidMVNO website and even invited them to the MVNO summits. Their major concern is network congestion on the host MNO. service quality has been quite...actually really bad, the quality of mobile phone services are bad and the logic is that the networks have taken more subscribers and thus more traffic than their networks can handle, so introducing MVNO's may add pressure the their networks and further reduce service quality on the networks. i have argued against this logic without success. what will you say to this."

This raises a number of issues that I have seen come and go over the years in MVNO, and now coming again. Essentially, congestion/capacity was the key concern of the first UK MNOs prior to launching the first MVNOs, but their workaround was a commercial one, which is always encouraged, as can be seen in the financial results of MNOs supporting MVNOs!

Emerging market MVNO struggle

The thinking behind blocking MVNOs on this basis is flawed and obviously one arising from lobbying by people who have not taken the time to examine the facts, let alone the finances, which make MVNOs a no-brainer. However, in this same way, there are well documented cases of how  many US carriers fought and lobbied the US government for 10 years to stall the progress of the internet, a product which now forms the biggest part of their bottom line and dominates the product sections of their websites...

So, let's deal with the points one by one:
  1. No network runs at full capacity all the time, like every and any service, there are peaks and troughs, and no two networks in the same country have the same profiles either. 
  2. These peaks and troughs are very significant in both MNOs and MVNOs alike, with their networks running at eighty-some or ninety-some percent at peaks for a short period of the day, but typically at anything between 30-50% during the day, and obviously pretty much 0% all night.
  3. No two networks in the same country have the same load profiles, in operators I have seen over the years across many countries have very different profiles due to having attracted a very different customer base. 
  4. network capacity varies geographically as well
  5. some types off traffic are more consuming of resources than others, for example now data makes up 80%+ of MNO network costs, but does not make anywhere near that percentage contribution in revenue or profits...
  6. As data requirements and mobile penetration expand, if the MNO cannot even handle voice and SMS now, how are they going to tackle data and provide the country with the infrastructure it needs to grow??? If they are tackling this issue properly, voice and SMS capacity for MVNOs should not be a problem...
  7. Some MNOs state that they run a very efficient network and therefore are not actively looking for MVNOs however, they do still run some pretty major MVNOs, they are just more selective and chose ones that complement their profile

MVNO African Story

At the time of the original article (2012) and this update (2013) there key barrier example used in Africa is "network capacity" as per above example. I shall be brief:

In short:  if a network were running at full capacity all the time, it would not just be congested as per the argument against MVNOs, but the network would actually fall over and cause major outages for long periods from a functional perspective. Furthermore the operator would surely be falling short of the service/coverage commitments they will have made to get a licence and become an operator in the first place, and certainly will not be able to cope with the data expansion that is needed for a country to grow in this internet age: Whoever is upholding full capacity as a barrier to MVNOs is either conspiring with a short-sighted MNO or MNOs, or having the wool pulled over their eyes by a short-sighted MNO(s)!

MVNO Latin American Emerging markets

There was a great presentation at the MVNO Conference just recently in Barcelona on the Mexican Market and how they managed to get the regulator to open up the market, basically by creating a group, and ringing the regulator and government departments every single day, among other things, very interesting, and good luck; however, I will end on three notes:
  1.  you need to arm yourself with facts and show that these arguments have no substance at the same time
  2. you can use the cases of the Spanish and Italian markets, which needed the regulator to open the market in 2006/2007, some of the last markets to adapt MVNOs which opened the floodgate for MVNOs
  3. There is nothing like some prospects to get the market going... post Virgin mobile UK, every man and his dog approached t-mobile UK (then one2one) with an idea on a napkin to become an MVNO, most of them had no clue... if there is an opportunity, or many smaller opportunities that actually address a market the MNO is not addressing, then this helps as well.
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