IFG Consulting Ltd celebrating 5th anniversary at MWC

Brokering innovation in Mobile

IFG Consulting Ltd celebrates 5th anniversary at MWC

Looking ahead the Mobile World is more exciting than ever with software at its core.
IFG Consulting Ltd has been helping telecom Operators remain relevant for the future since the end of 2012.  It is remarkable how software has been fundamental in bringing relevant innovations to telecoms and digital, transforming businesses and our daily lives.
We are now beginning to connect data silos and apply intelligent algorithms to harvest meaningful insights which can increasingly be understood and actioned by machines and systems in real-time aimed at improving services and our lives. Software is at the heart of progress and innovation for the foreseeable future.
The MWC is a whirlwind event and ideal to share ideas and challenges. We will be hearing about products and services as well as technologies from executives, CXOs, heads of product and innovation and investors to discuss the business edge. Join the conversation.

Creativity is a collaborative process. Let’s talk!

Contact: contact@

Twitter: @ifgconsulting

MWC Meeting Room: 7089MR

Heavens Above – What’s after 5G?

I have been considering writing a blog over the festive period and have at last settled on a topic which although forward looking, is also timely.

 

I am out-trumping the industry race towards 5G and hailing the arrival of the subsequent network generation called unsurprisingly 6G which could be a reality within 20 years. You read it here first!

 

It might sound premature and far-fetched but actually is relevant today as it will affect the development of the industry and should be taken into consideration when defining 5G which the GSMA announced should be standardised by 2017, with the first implementations expected by 2020.

 

To understand what 6G might be, let’s look at the roadmap and current momentum achieved through 4G, 5G and IoT. One of the aspects of 4G which is relevant is that it has provided standardisation and harmonisation globally and therefore provides one base line for the future.

 

As a headline, 5G promises Gigabit download speeds, but in my view more importantly promises to utilise the combined intelligent of the network and end device to provide a best customer experience across a heterogeneous mesh of access methods, including WiFi (unlicensed spectrum) and Mobile networks (licensed spectrum). Fundamentally I hope 5G will achieve the optimisation of all terrestrial access methods providing a seamless experience for the end user. The limitation of this generation of network connectivity is that terrestrial connectivity is very costly to implement and maintain and only provides limited coverage as base stations technology currently only provide coverage for 7% of the globe surface area, expecting to grow by no more than 1% YoY.

 

IoT is the meshup of machines, devices, actuators and sensors, collectively called “things” which will communicate with each other to provide more intelligent decisions for humans, without necessarily involving human interaction. I see clusters of interdependent satellites being an embodiment of IoT as well as an enabling technology.

 

I believe 6G will logically combine the benefits with the terrestrial access methods provided by 5G with a carpet of interlinked low orbiting satellites to provide consistent ubiquitous high bandwidth connectivity, either by region or globally.

 

What does this mean in practice?

  • For 5G to provide the right foundation, we need a global agreement on allocation of spectrum, meaning that each country implements the same spectrum allocation with 5G. In addition, this harmonised approach needs to take into consideration any bandwidth requirements for the satellite system envisaged with 6G.
  • Nations will need to rethink communications control based on geographical boundaries. I believe 6G will become a truly international asset similar to the World Wide Web. This means that communication will no longer be the hostage to national licensing agreements and therefore any Operators entering into national licensing agreements need to factor this into any future negotiations now.
  • Regions such as the EU will need to truly harmonise the communications landscape and not leave it for each country to implement their own interpretations of standards.
  • From a satellite perspective the skies will need to be cleaned up with an orbit needing to be internationally agreed and made available. One of the main challenges being the removal of debris and agreeing ownership, control and maintenance.

 

As you can see, there are many challenges, but the overriding challenge will be the willingness of individuals and countries to co-operate. Given the altruistic goal of improved communications for all mankind, I hope this becomes a reality.

 

Happy New Year!

From your IFGConsulting team!

Is it time to redefine MVNOs to foster innovation?

I had the pleasure of participating in the networking event organised by MVNO Dynamics which included a panel session related to the state of MVNOs in the UK, which triggered me to write this entry.

The telecoms industry loves its acronyms, which invariably have different meanings in different contexts and need redefining each time used.  In relation to this blog post, the only relevant aspect of the definition of an MVNO is that they provide mobile services to end users but do not own their own radio access network and therefore by definition are dependent on operators who in turn do own this access technology.

Governments are responsible for licensing our airwaves and have profited greatly by packaging and selling radio spectrum to mobile operators.  They therefore have a vested interest and are obliged to allow and support these mobile operators to monetise these licenses.

By definition due to the ownership of radio access by the few, the commercial reality is that MVNOs are locked in and that they will only be able to launch services which the mobile operator deems are non-competitive to their own businesses and hence one could argue that MVNOs are limited to providing supplementary services in line with the host mobile operators agenda.  Consequently, there will be a natural tendency for mobile operators to want to see existing assets and services being sweated and hence will throttle service innovation provided by others.

Therefore you might argue that as long as the radio spectrum is seen as a rare resource to be controlled by the few with a specific vested interest supported by the governments, the attempts of Neelie Kroes and the EU 2020 digital agenda to increase innovation and make mobile an accessible ubiquitous resource will fail.

In support of this thinking, please take a minute to consider those companies in the mobile space you would associate with both innovation and success across Europe – you will most likely think of companies such as Apple, Facebook and WhatsApp.  What do they have in common?  The services they offer are not built on the business of an MNO and therefore are not controlled by an MNO and can scale across countries seamlessly.  Interestingly, these services are often characterised by MNOs as over the top providers (OTT) as they are cannibalising the mobile operators’ services and can bypass the operators.

We therefore currently have 2 worlds: the MNO and the OTT world, both vying for the direct relationship with subscribers.  It is up to the governments to consider whether owning radio spectrum by the few is really in the interest of the public and the governments who serve them.

What are the options worth considering?

To my knowledge, radio spectrum is owned by the citizens and therefore needs to be licensed to serve the public and so as part of the licensing agreement mobile operators should be made to make mobile radio access available to all – “must carry”.  Alternatively and a more radically approach would be for the governments to define a new category of provider who solely provides radio access networks and make these available to all.  The latter could enable spectrum harmonisation across Europe and provide efficiencies and scale which is currently lacking.  This way all service providers become MVNOs, we then have an even playing field for all and innovation is fostered!

Keep in touch!

From your IFG Consulting team.

The New Way of Funding your Business

I recently went to the Business Show 2014 at the Excel in London.  The show is full of companies with ideas to help you grow your business.

One area which should be close to every business owner’s heart is funding, as without funding you do not have the fuel to fan the flames of growth.

Doug Richard, well-known entrepreneur and investor from the BBC show ‘Dragons Den’ gave a presentation on ‘alternative funding to grow your small business’ which inspired me to write this blog.

Now I am not telling you anything new when I suggest we need to tap into our own resources before exploring alternatives.  Family and friends is the next port of call, however, starting a business is risky and it can be difficult to repair relationships should the business fail.

Your next thought would most likely be to visit your bank, which is the most conventional source of lending.  However, due to recent EU legislation (Basel 2 and above) banks have a natural aversion to lending to new businesses as these are inherently seen to be risky and banks don’t like risk especially if there is an easier way of making money.  Well established medium-sized businesses with a track record of success and sustainability are the type of risk profile banks will consider.  Of course, the government is making claims that it is forcing banks to lend to small businesses but actions speak louder than words and bankers paymasters are their shareholders within the regulatory framework.

So what are alternatives and which should you consider?

Well, if you have been trading for less than 12 months and your funding requirements are less than £10,000, you might want to consider applying for a start-up loan which is a government backed initiative to kick-start fledgling businesses.  In addition to funds, you are provided with mentoring and ongoing support.  You can find more information at www.startuploans.co.uk.

For those of you with more ambitious funding requirements, you might want to consider ‘crowdfunding’.  As the name suggests, you need to find a crowd of private individuals who you are able to convince of the merits of your venture and incentivise them to provide you with funds in the form of a loan.  This is called ‘reward-based crowdfunding’.  The advantage of this type of funding is that you are not parting with equity (ownership) and therefore maintain full control of your business and destiny.  You will, of course,  need to have the right idea and business which lends itself to inspire your crowd.  Two leaders in the space, according to Doug are www.kickstarter.com and www.indiegogo.com with the latter being aimed at global start-ups.

An alternative to the above is called ‘equity crowdfunding’, where you will need to consider swapping part of the equity for funding.  The main benefit of crowdfunding is that  these investors also have an inherent interest in the success in your business and could potentially have relevant backgrounds and expertise you can leverage.  Also, you will not have any interest to repay therefore helping cash flow.  According to Doug, two leaders in the space are www.seedrs.com and www.crowdcube.com.

Should you be looking for funding up to £150,000, you might want to consider working with business angels (also known as ‘angel investors’).  This is likely to be a select few high net worth individuals who beyond the funding offer mentoring as part of the package.  Now the government has given high net worth individuals an incentive to invest and  limits the risk substantially.  As an investor, you can invest up to £100,000 and offset 50%  of the value of the investment in the form of income tax relief.  If you later make profit on the sale of your shares, you are exempt from capital gains tax on that profit.  If, on the other hand, the company fails you may be able to offset your loss against your income tax.  In short, the government is reducing the risk for investors but also underpinning new ventures.  The key for the business, however, is to seek SEIS approval.  For further information, please visit www.seiswindow.org.uk.

Should you have even larger ambitions and want to raise more than £150,000, there is the  Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) where individuals can invest up to £1m per tax year and  receive 30% relief on income tax as well as avoiding capital gains against profits.  Again as a business, you need to make sure they fulfil the eligibility criteria throughout the term of the scheme.  For further reading, please go to www.crowdcube.com/pg/eis-seis-tax-relief-overview-43.

If you are  not sure which funding option might  be most suitable for you then you might  want to  take a look at the  following website www.alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk.

Good luck with your business and keep in touch!

From your IFG Consulting Team.

What is the ‘weather forecast’ for your network

While watching the weather forecast on TV, I suddenly wondered whether anyone has tried to create a ‘weather forecast’ for their network, overlaid with a ‘traffic report’.

With the British fascination with both the weather and traffic jams, this concept could be a real hit – especially if presented by a well-groomed, articulate, enthusiastic ‘forecaster’.

Possible ideas could include predicting a ‘risk of signal storms’ due to a particular event, such as a big football fixture; or perhaps certain parts of the network that are operating more slowly than usual could be highlighted as having ‘slow traffic, and a risk of congestion’?

To understand the ‘weather forecast’ and ‘traffic report’ for your own network, please contact us.

Can CIOs really support a mobile workplace

Efficient communication is at the very heart of any successful organisation. The dynamics of the technology people choose to use in their private lives has a direct impact on corporates. Employees consider the technology they use as an extension of their own persona, and mobile technology is a critically important part of the mix which needs to be integrated with the corporate call control environment.

Costs grow exponentially related to the number of technologies and devices you aspire to support. So CIOs need to seek a solution that supports all the different call control configurations and deployments within their business, both today and in the future. This will enable them to provide a common phone experience across all access devices, including traditional fixed and mobile phones, as well as applications like WebRTC and Lync.

This is where mobile operators have an important role to play. Due to standardisation, mobile operators have a network where ubiquitous call connectivity has been constructed on a global basis. Using their network and specific enabling technology, they are well placed to support CIO’s requirements across geographic locations, devices and applications, working seamlessly with the corporate environment at a reduced cost.

This represents a huge opportunity for mobile operators, as it allows them to make their network the integral enabling technology for all future call control requirements.

Please contact us to find out more.

Welcome to the IFG Consulting blog

A warm welcome to our blog! It’s designed to share interesting thoughts and considerations about developments and innovations in the world of mobile and telecoms.

We hope these articles will be of interest to you, and sometimes maybe even brighten up your day a little.

Who should sign up to the IFG Consulting blog?

• Investors who are focusing on the telecoms and mobile industry
• Executives of mobile operators, MVNEs and MVNO’s who have an interest in accelerating the adoption of innovation
• Executives of companies who supply innovative solutions to mobile operators, MVNEs and MVNOs

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From the IFG Consulting Team