Operators call for more of the spoils

Operators call for more of the spoils
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Vodafone chief Vittorio Colao called for changes to the wholesale regulatory regimes in Europe, claiming the market has become over-competitive.

Speaking at MWC, he revealed that Vodafone created its unlimited Red tariff in response to competition from over-the-top (OTT) players.

Colao was joined at the forum by GSMA chairman and Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe, Cesar Alierta of Telefonica, Randall Stephenson of AT&T and Xi Guohua of China Mobile.

Alierta warned that telcos pay for spectrum, pay tax and then build the network. He complained that despite this, telcos are not receiving enough government support and back up.

Stephenson noted that spectrum allocation should be used to develop technological innovation, and laying the foundation for mobile to drive other industries.

Emeka Obiodu, telco strategy analyst at Ovum, said: 'Today’s keynote speakers were united in extolling the merits of the mobile telecoms industry and calling for a more equitable share of the spoils.

He added: It was clear that [Alierta] feels that over-the-top (OTT) players are freeloading and wants to encourage more open standards. That helps to explain the operator push for Firefox. He also held up the low prices paid at the UK LTE auction as evidence that the industry won't always accept its position. Guohua also continued the call for open standards.

'Colao disclosed how the threat from OTT players encouraged Vodafone to create the Vodafone red tariff, which offers unlimited voice minutes and eliminates price arbitrage. He also wants regulators to cease regulation of retail and wholesale mobile traffic and stop favoring new entrants that cannot stand on their own. It is a theme he began last year, but now his view is gaining support.'

Catherine Haslam, wholesale analyst at Ovum, added that operators need to change their attitudes towards mobile wholesale and enhance their wholesale portfolios to become enablers of more advanced and differentiated MVNOs:

'The limitations of many mobile operators' wholesale services means that they are competing only on price and perpetuating a race to the bottom amongst budget MVNOs. If mobile operators enable more niche and value-added MVNOs, they can build a more effective wholesale revenue stream. Many are currently leaving wholesale revenues on the table by failing to see it as a mainstream revenue stream.' 

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