By Brydon Pilkington, Regional Manager, Middle East and Africa, InfoVista
It’s no secret that Africa represents perhaps the largest growth opportunity in the world for the telecommunications industry. Every day, mobile operators are building bigger, better and stronger networks to keep up with the growing demand for voice and data services from the African population. It is an exciting time, but it is also very easy to get caught up in that excitement and buzzwords like “LTE” and lose sight of what must go into these networks if they are to stand the test of time. It’s not just about what they can do today, but what they’ll be able to do tomorrow, the next and the day after that.
Mobile operators have to consider the technologies of tomorrow when building today for the simple reason that they can’t afford to undertake massive overhaul projects every few years. They have to build in a certain level of flexibility, so their networks can evolve and grow along with the technologies and data services that their subscribers will come to expect. Simply put, they need better network planning, service assurance and optimization, so they are ready for the future.
Forrester Research recently announced the Mobile Mind Shift Index (MMSI). The idea here is that as mobile users gain access to new devices and applications and see what is possible, they will start to expect and then demand these services be readily available at their convenience. They will also judge communications service providers based on their ability to meet these demands, and take their business elsewhere if their current mobile operators cannot offer the quality of service (QoS) they desire. The MMSI measures the change in mobile users’ expectations in this regard. Additionally, earlier this year, IDC predicted that 2013 would be the year of the smartphone and mobile app in Africa. As they have indeed begun to overtake feature phones, measurement tools like the MMSI and the IDC research offer us a glimpse of both the opportunities in Africa and how easily they can pass you by if you’re not careful.
Perhaps the most critical factor in the successful expansion of the African telecommunications market and in driving the profitability of mobile operators is the ability to ensure unparalleled end-to-end QoS. At InfoVista, we have seen firsthand how efficient service assurance, network planning and optimization have enabled this. By making full use of the latest network technologies, while also preparing for the integration of tomorrow’s network innovations, they are better equipped to meet the growing expectations and demand from their subscribers. At the same time, mobile operators are able to minimize CAPEX and OPEX through this improved efficiency, in turn maximizing ROI and further enhancing their profitability.
Ultimately, it all comes down to being able to continually develop and offer high-quality services that retain customers and attract new business. Network planning and optimization, particularly in Africa, where eyes are constantly looking toward the future, should be approached like a game of chess — always thinking 10 moves ahead.
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