Supplements network operators’ skills with Build, Operate, Transfer model
As commoditisation gathers pace, it continues to blunt the competitive edge of even the most innovative hardware vendors, forcing them to turn to services in order to stand out in the crowd.
Tellumat Wireless, the wireless expert in the Tellumat group, has gone one better, differentiating itself with a high-end portfolio of professional services that go well beyond the usual ‘installation, maintenance and support’ offered by the industry.
The emergence of the BOT model
Geoff Carey, Tellumat Wireless managing executive, says the switch to services has been given further impetus by the worsening skills shortage throughout the industry. “The recession has made it tough on networks to employ skills,” he says. “Even the leading operators have taken to shifting the burden of network-related services to hardware vendors and integrators.”
“We’re seeing an increasing need for turnkey Build, Operate and Transfer [BOT] services,” he continues. “It is a phenomenon that occurs right across the spectrum of operators – from leading commercial networks such as Neotel and Telkom to the smaller ones, such as Under-Serviced Area Licensees (USALs).
Carey says while bigger operators are subject to the same lack of skills as any other provider, smaller ones have neither the experience nor the high-end skills or resources needed to design and build networks.
He notes that Tellumat has had particular success with services including network planning, customer support and project-managing implementations. When it comes to standard implementation and maintenance services, the company often makes use of other integrators.”
In some cases, for instance with USALs, a BOT engagement may even go beyond support to the point of customer acquisition on the operator’s behalf, he says. “In such cases the vendor or integrator will get the network and operation off the ground and hand it back to the owner after a pre-arranged time or once certain deliverables have been met.”
Adapt and everybody flourishes
“Taking on this degree of responsibility on the network’s behalf requires adapting one’s business model and service elements, of course,” he reflects. However, Tellumat’s history has resulted in it becoming a very adaptable company, he adds.
“As a development-centric engineering firm with a wide array of skills, we have found it fairly easy to evolve those skills and other resources into a body of professional services that match a need for turnkey outsourcing. We’ve invested in the tools and training that allow our customers to rely on us for a leaner, more efficient way of doing business.”
For instance, the company has deep microwave and radio frequency engineering skills, on the back of which it has built up a portfolio of RF testing and network optimisation services. Computer–simulated deployments provide the tools for the former class of service, while network monitoring tools provide continuous feedback for network optimisation and design improvements.
“What you learn in this business is that networks are living, breathing things that only stop being developed when they’re pulled out,” says Carey.
Carey says while operators and hardware vendors are employing lean tactics to emerge from a difficult time, there is great potential for synergies that could benefit both.
“The savviest vendors are skilling up to deliver an increasingly comprehensive range of services that make it easier for their customers to enter the operator market or augment existing coverage,” he says.