Margot Wall, Managing Consultant
In recent years, the European Union has taken steps to begin operating as a single economy, going beyond a single currency to develop consistent standards for information privacy and freedom of movement for EU citizens.
That philosophy of openness is extending to telecom providers, with new entrants into the fixed and mobile operations space being granted freedom to offer their services across the EU. While the old Postal Telegraph and Telephone (PTT) operators continue to function under (and often hide behind) a great deal of regulation, the new market entrants – as non-incumbents – have more freedom to build, price and negotiate.
Meanwhile, many U.S.-based multinationals are looking to operate more globally and centralize management. The WAN is typically under a single invoice, but other services are largely decentralized and present an opportunity to drive out cost. To seize this opportunity, many businesses look first to Europe: It’s accessible, it’s probably where they first expanded and costs there are probably out of control.
For these enterprises, the new players in the EU market represent a potential option beyond the traditional PTT. The typical practice in Europe is to repeatedly renew local and mobile contracts and to think of the PTT operators as “Ma Bell.” Renewals involve either the country manager striking an agreement to get another plan added or drive another access level discount. The business often recognizes that the market outpaces these auto renewals, and that consolidation and optimization is really the key to maintaining control over costs. The challenge, however, is to understand the local and mobile options and to know which options are viable and which aren’t.
To develop an effective consolidation plan, insight into the players, their footprints, services and solutions is imperative. In addition, clients need an understanding of the specific steps involved in building their inventories right – and doing it right the first time. Any strategy, any RFP and any RFP response depends on a valid and accurate inventory as the first step in understanding the current situation, and the last step in planning any transformation project. Finally, for both mobile and fixed (local voice) service, regulatory knowledge is needed to navigate EU privacy laws, while still getting access to billing portals.
Bottom line: the evolving EU economy presents some significant opportunities for optimizing global communications by leveraging the capabilities of new market entrants. And as the market moves away from TDM-based voices services, European players offer some interesting options on next-generation technologies. But knowledge of local conditions is a must.
An advisor who understands the technology, the local players and regulatory environment can help overcome the obstacles and achieve a positive outcome. It’s like going to Paris if you’ve never been and don’t speak any French. You can go on your own, or with someone who knows the language and customs.
Margot Wall is an Alsbridge Managing Consultant in the Network Services Group.