Is the future good or bad for telcos? Interview with Jan Frykhammar

Policy and BSS are still alive and well in a 5G world

Jan Frykhammar
Jan Frykhammar is now the Board of Directors of Openet. He is the former CEO (interim), CFO and Business Unit head of Ericsson.

Background: Openet has appointed Jan Frykhammar as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Jan joined Openet as a board member in April 2018. Previously he worked at Ericsson for 30 years where he was Group CFO and CEO.

DA: Jan, you’ve been involved in mobile communications since the early days of the industry and you were CFO and acting CEO of Ericsson, so please forgive me for asking the rather obvious question, but why Openet?

JF: Thanks, it’s an obvious question but also a good one. I like to work with companies who are well respected in the industry, but who also know when it’s time to change and to embrace new challenges and opportunities. I work with a small number of companies across Europe, who I consider to have strong growth potential and are ready to take advantage of the new opportunities that are coming like 5G and the move to digital.

DA: Telecoms has been a challenging commercial landscape for both operators and vendors alike. When getting involved with Openet, did you see an opportunity for growth in the back drop of a tight market?

JF: The whole industry took a bit of a beating in 2017 and in early 2018. Looking at the network equipment sector, several companies went through restructuring exercises and now are starting to see a return to growth. Openet perhaps placed too much emphasis on their policy product in recent times and as 4G matured not too many operators were spending money on new policy systems. So Openet needed to take a step back and change.  Part of this change was restructuring the company and focusing on what they do best, which is Digital BSS. If Openet hadn’t gone through a restructuring program I’d be worried. But they did and are in better shape.

DA: So is the policy market dead?

JF: Not at all. Policy deals often come on the back of new network deals that characterise the launch of any new G. With 5G, and the focus on network slicing, quality of service and latency we will see new demands on policy systems, which will help drive new opportunities.

DA: With all new Gs, there is invariably too much hype, which is followed by the reality of ‘it’s just the same but a bit faster’. Why should 5G be any different?

JF: Just looking at the initial use case for 5G, fixed wireless access. This can make a huge difference to homes and businesses who don’t have access to a fixed broadband connection. It can also have an impact on operators. I read recently that 50% of the customers who are signing up for Verizon’s 5G Home fixed wireless access broadband service are new customers. This is a significant new revenue driver. Once 5G gets more mature operators can start to play a role in the enterprise IoT sector, then this will further increase the opportunities for operators. This will not just be in selling new services direct, but also in forming alliances with other companies to deliver end to end systems for different verticals. All of which will need policy, not to mention charging. So 5G will present new opportunities to operators and vendors alike.

DA: You mentioned charging. What are the prospects here?

As operators are starting to roll out many services from entertainment to home security, and are trying out new business models, such as zero rating and sponsored data services, then the need for flexible charging is greater than ever. Once we start to look at the new services and business models that 5G will enable then flexible charging and new monetisation models become even more important.

DA: Jan, thank you – any last comments? Is the future looking good or bad?

JF: Mobile telecoms is coming out of one of the worst times in its 30 plus year history. This has impacted everyone, operators and vendors, and a change was been needed. The last couple of years have been tough for almost everyone in the industry. We’re moving out of that now. The new revenue opportunities that are being created by the move to sell a wide range of digital services and the introduction of 5G is helping operators to re-invent themselves. In turn this is opening up new opportunities for progressive vendors. One of the really good opportunities is linked to the cloud. Running Digital BSS on the cloud really opens up the market and removes a lot of barriers to entry, not just in terms of installing equipment on premise, but also removing a lot of capex costs with the adoption of SaaS type subscription models.

This means increased opportunities for Openet and I look forward to working with them on realising these new opportunities.

DA: Thank you for your time.

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