Does the Fixed Network have a future in Africa?
The leading heads of Africa’s telcos take the temperature of the region’s somewhat crowded telecoms market
How much is too much?
If you’re talking about telecom operators in Ghana, then 200,000 is too much.
That was the view of attendees at the Next Generation Telecoms Africa Summit 2011 which was held in Nairobi from 25-27 January 2011.
At this closed door summit, hosted by GDS International, around 100 C-level participants looked at a range of topics, including the future of the fixed network in Africa.
According to Eric Valentine, Head of Networks Vodafone Ghana, the fixed network can be a key differentiator and there is significant economic advantage to converging the mobile and fixed architecture.
“A major stumbling block, however, is that some markets have too many operators. For example, Ghana has around 200,000 operators who are currently active, including MTN, Tigo, Vodafone, Kasapa and Airtel. The benefits of a fixed line network can be diluted by too many operators,” says Valentine.
Similarly, the advent of mobile technology has meant that investment in fixed technology has been greatly reduced. “So what we did was push people into the fibre network to keep the numbers high. But unfortunately this didn’t work so well.”
Vodafone Ghana even considered selling the fixed line part of its business in the West African nation. “Data growth in fixed ADSL will hopefully bring in more revenue and add huge value. What we’re doing now is targeting the high value cabinet areas. We’re retraining people to interact with their customers and dealing with BT to come and train our staff. We also need to be smarter on workforce management and use tolls in OOS and BSS to do this. Call centres need accurate information because the fixed network is very complex with switches as old as 15 years.”
Looking ahead, Valentine says the next step is to shut down all of the legacy exchanges and evolve to IP transport using CPN and new MPLS infrastructure. “We can then look at backhaul on fixed assets and femtocell technology for improved indoor coverage. There has been a huge surge in data through dongles, so we will be upgrading the internet gateways (multi-service access nodes). We think that simplifying and modifying is the way to go.”
Valentine says Vodafone Ghana plans to start by replacing ageing equipment and launching an aggressive sales campaign for broadband services.
“Customer obsession is the key, the digital divide is closing and data is growing so we need to ensure that we’re not isolated with only one option.”
More than 100 of the industry’s top experts gathered at the Next Generation Telecoms Africa Summit 2011 which was held in Nairobi from 25-27 January 2011. A key opportunity for some of the most respected names in the African telecoms industry to network and engage in a clear and focused dialogue, the Summit also featured key speakers Nizar Dalloul, Founder and Chairman/CEO of Essar Telecom; Patrick Puges, VP Emerging Markets Networks and IT, France Telecom/Orange and Glen Lewis, GVP International Telecoms & Networking, IDC.
The next, Next Generation Telecoms Africa Summit will be hosted by GDS International in Cape Town, South Africa from 13-15th September 2011.
For more information, visit www.ngtafricasummit.com/
GDS International is a leading business-to-business events company. We offer financial, healthcare, IT service management, telecoms and oil and gas summits for senior executives throughout the Asia Pacific, Africa, China, Europe, North America and Russia markets. Our value proposition is simple: we deliver real results. And we’re very good at it. www.gdsinternational.com <http://www.gdsinternational.com