Thursday, April 26, 2012

Telco's starting to charge extra for VoIP traffic

TeliaSonera has declared that it will start charging users higher rates for VoIP traffic according to the WSJ. AFAIK this makes them the first ISP to do this. Now, I've said it before that I would really like to see ISPs start to introduce quality of service management for different traffic classes on their network. This will be an integral part of the NBN, but it is not seen in many residential offerings and I have yet to see it anywhere in mobile networks. Now, if TeliaSonera started to differentiate the voice traffic AND used packet marking and adjusted queues on routers etc. to optimise the call flows then they could possibly justify charging extra. However, it is hard to justify charging extra without some sort of service differentiation. In order for people to accept the charges you need to give them a carrot, otherwise you're just beating them with a stick and pissing them off in the process.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Telstra should do with its NBN cash stash!

Telstra is expected to have around $9 billion in 'spare' cash over the next 3 years thanks to the NBN and its retirement of the copper infrastructure. This amount of money provides an unprecedented opportunity for an Australian company to invest in research and development for new products and services. An article in the Age today mentions that they have nominated cloud computing, media asset management and expansion into Asia as potential growth areas.

Isn't this kind of boring? I mean they are already focussed on cloud computing and they have been trying to expand into Asia for quite a while, so neither of these is exciting. Media asset management has the potential for some excitement, but it is so vague it is hard to say exactly what they are referring to. I think that they are referring to managing their pay TV services and perhaps provided a better offering via the T-Box. None of these are particularly new or exciting developments, just incremental additions or logical extensions of work they are already doing.

Now, given the large some of cash that they have there is a potential for Telstra to take some risks and perhaps introduce some innovative products. I've got a few ideas, but to be honest I think that these may not be out of the box enough.

  • Multiple number services on one mobile handset. There are lots of business people out there forced to carry two handsets regularly, one for personal use and one for business. This just seems silly to me. Now, technically this shouldn't be too hard to implement, however to make the service really compelling the user interaction probably needs some interaction. Think about this, you have a personal and business number, when you add contacts you can select which number they ring on the phone and which number rings them when you ring out. Different ring tones and profiles are assigned to the numbers and can be changed individually. Schedules could be added so that say work calls automatically only use silent alerting outside of business hours. They could be tied to your Out of Office settings so that if out of office is set then business calls go straight to voice mail. I've raised this before and the main objection was that the carrier would lose business on this model. To me however this is probably not the case. Firstly you can charge for this service. Secondly most people with two phones have the secondary phone on a low cost carrier and not Telstra. Thirdly reducing the number of handsets reduces network and radio congestion. Finally, you can win customers over from the other networks based on the extra service.
  • Video enable the entire Telstra network. Add a camera to the T-box and Foxtel offerings and allow people to call from their mobiles to home TVs. This would be great for business travellers that wants to call home and see their family. These people probably currently use Skype, but a clean user experience and not thinking that you can charge an arm and a leg for it, will get people using it. Also, all the Telstra connected businesses should be able to call each other via video. Also, don't forget that with the NBN coming every home phone could now easily be a video phone.
  • Add service mapping to the smart phone apps. This is a simple addition and mainly to do with improving both customer feedback. Essentially what I am talking about is something as simple as a button on their application to allow instant reporting of service problems, such as the recently reported CBD 3G congestion issues. Of course such an app would require that Telstra actually admits that there is an issue. As an extra which gives the user improved feedback is that after a submission is made the user could get feedback on planned network upgrades in the area.

I am sure if I brainstorm long enough I can come up with plenty more ideas and perhaps Telstra is quietly working on these in the background, however I am not so sure. Lack of updates around network upgrades and the like just shows that they are still too arrogant for their own good.