In the run up to Carriers World 2019, Total Telecom caught up with Mike van den Bergh, chief marketing and strategy officer at PCCW Global ahead of his keynote address

What sort of an opportunity does 5G present for carriers to redefine their business models? 

Expanded 5G capabilities will create a wide range of new opportunities for carriers.  The growth in traffic provides carriers with a huge opportunity to offer wholesale transport solutions both domestically and internationally to mobile network operators around the world. It is also an opportunity for operators to move beyond connectivity and collaborate across sectors to provide innovative solutions, serving everything from machine-to-machine services and autonomous vehicles to remote healthcare and video delivery services. To capture these new opportunities,  carriers will have to partner heavily with other ecosystem technology providers such as smart city services, vehicle management, data analytics and blockchain, driving a massive uptick in the adoption of enterprise IoT both domestically and across national boundaries.


What will be the key challenges that carriers’ face over the next 12-18 months?

Digital reinvention and speed to market are two of the most important challenges that carriers are facing. To reverse the downward revenue trend and take new digital services to market carriers need to evolve much faster. Transforming the core business, creating efficiencies and streamlining processes is a huge cultural and operational challenge, particularly those having to overcome the hindrance of legacy back-end systems and cultural resistance.  Scaling and extending the edge of the network closer to the end device to accommodate edge computing and network slicing will be another key challenge.  A related critical success factor will be the ability to attract and retain the right talent. Carriers are now competing with software businesses, digital giants and technology start-ups for a new breed of innovative young talent capable of making this vision of a connected world a reality.  


What new technologies are you particularly interested in at the moment? 

Hybrid Cloud is fuelling the need for virtualised networks to connect customer data centres and cloud sites in a safe, agile, predictable way either via self-serve portal or increasingly via API. Console Connect, our Software Defined Interconnection platform incorporates automation software that manages our Global private MPLS network, allowing users to quickly spin-up virtual private connections and directly connect cloud applications, partners and business locations on-demand. As we extend our Console Connect platform ecosystem through partnerships, seamless integration and orchestration through technologies such as robust APIs and Blockchain are becoming ever more important.


What are your predictions for the industry over the next 12-18 months?

Carriers need to respond to customers demand for greater flexibility, responsiveness and innovation. Network automation will continue to dominate and carriers will re-architect processes to leverage the scale and agility of cloud, facilitate innovation, and deliver new digital services. Digital-first, self-service channels will start to become much more prevalent as customers look to manage their business online. New platform-based business models will emerge that will require increased collaboration, not just between carriers but also between an open ecosystem of partnerships from outside the sector which can work together to create new value. Tighter integration of service delivery and financial assurance will see the growth in use of API and Blockchain technologies. As digital business models prevail, data privacy will continue to be a critical issue for carriers in 2020.