- POSTED: 24 Dec 2013 20:59
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Singapore's telecommunications firms need to find new avenues of growth in the year ahead. Industry analysts said driving mobile data consumption will be a key focus for Singapore's telcos in 2014.
SINGAPORE: Singapore's telecommunications firms need to find new avenues of growth in the year ahead.
Industry analysts said driving mobile data consumption will be a key focus for Singapore's telcos in 2014.
And the firms could look into collaborations with industries such as healthcare and transport to increase sources of data growth.
Digital services like mobile commerce are potential growth drivers for telcos in the coming year, with consumers increasingly using smart devices for payments.
Nitin Bhat, partner and head of consulting at Frost & Sullivan, said: "(Consumer) behaviour is driven by the entire digital technology. The way telcos look at it is to provide services to a digital consumer… Things like mobile commerce, mobile payments, mobile wallet, those kinds of applications. And even e-commerce. Not necessarily on mobile but on that platform, using digital tools to reach customers, digitising operations, which could include customer care, so on and so forth."
Going forward, analysts expect telcos to be addressing issues like getting more customers onto fibre broadband, and dealing with over-the-top (OTT) services like Whatsapp and Viber, which are squeezing voice and text messaging revenues.
Sachin Gupta, managing director and head of telecoms research for Asia Pacific at Nomura, said: "There are still a lot of headwinds on what the over-the-top challenges are. And telcos, they are pretty much thinking about a lot of these things and are taking a lot of initiatives to manage these better.
“Going into 2014, obviously data re-pricing will remain a focus. The outputs have stabilised. The focus is very much on… how they can increase the outputs."
Foong King Yew, research vice president of CSP research at Gartner Research, said: "Telco service providers would have to move away from unlimited data pricing, but craft or design tiered data plans to take advantage of growth in mobile data volumes."
Some experts suggested telcos boost the use of mobile data consumption by venturing into adjacent markets like healthcare, transport and logistics.
Mr Foong said: "So the idea is for telco service providers to participate in these adjacent market services and use them to drive up mobile data consumption, and have that ability to monetise the consumption of data.
“In conjunction with this, we see potential for partnerships between telco service providers, and the OTT players, and also digital content owners and digital content service providers as well. While one party may earn revenues from digital content services, the other party will earn revenues from the usage of mobile data."
Apart from seeking new business drivers, telcos will also need to resolve network resiliency issues that posed a challenge in 2013.
M1 was fined S$1.5 million for a mobile service outage that affected some 250,000 of its subscribers in January, while a fire that broke out at SingTel's Bukit Panjang exchange disrupted service in December.
Mr Foong said: "Moving forward, as we see businesses start to adopt cloud computing, more applications get available online, the critical role played by network infrastructure will only grow in importance. From a business perspective, it really gives them cause to look at issues like network resiliency, and disaster recovery plans if they haven't looked at it in great detail before.
“Perhaps now is the time to really look at it again because as applications go online, it's not only the availability of data centres that becomes important, it's really the end-to-end network elements together with computing, storage as well."
Analysts also suggested telcos like Starhub and M1 seek opportunities in the region beyond Singapore as the local market is highly saturated.