Should Telecom Companies become ‘Charitable’ Organizations?

Imagine a day when we wake up to find that the phones (mobile, satellite phones, landlines et al) and internet (any form of ‘online’ communication system) not working/not available – across the globe. That is scary. Isn’t it? Two of the most important aspects of our lives – just not available. Imagine how many billion dollar businesses would just shut down immediately. Facebook, Apple—and a bunch of companies we love. We love them only because of the services the telecoms provide us. Else, what is an iPhone, or Facebook if we just did not have the internet service provided to us?

The point I am trying to make is- if the telecom backbone was not there, rather if the single largest engineering feat on the face of the planet was not there, the world at large would almost stand still. However, it is the same business that is today suffering the most in terms of dwindling revenues, ARPUs and AMPUs.

Almost all services are being provided through the telecom backbone, yet the companies suffering most in terms of revenue loss are the telecom ones. Every new innovation that is happening (NFC, LTE, 4G, M2M and almost every other thing that is making our lives easier) first and foremost “assumes” the availability of the telecom backbone. Billions are being made out of such innovations by companies who are not exactly the telecom companies. However, every other financial aspect that hurts like hell like fraud et al, largely affects the telcos, while no one takes the rest of the blames. I wonder what is the ‘sense of duty’ that the telecom operators carry within themselves to serve others while they themselves bleed profusely ?

Why should the telecom operators serve other businesses if it is not enabling the telcos to make more profits than the rest of the businesses dependent on them? I don’t want to sound empathetic or sympathetic – but coming to think of it, should the telecoms also not make as much profits (and more) as the rest of the companies? Should this not be a symbiotic relationship rather than a parasitic one?

A point in the symbiotic relationship could probably have been Net Neutrality- but well we have already shot it down. So, I ask, is it time that telecom companies and ISPs become charitable organizations? At least such organizations who ‘serve’ humanity make a lot of money through donations. Is it not time that telecom and ISPs also make tons of money just like their ‘parasitic’ counterparts?

 

Moinak Banerjee
Moinak works at Protiviti Kuwait, as Product Lead for their Risk Technology Services. Over the years, he has worked in product management for several leading vendors of telecom OSS/BSS software.
  • Mike Willett

    Hi Moinak,

    Yours is certainly a provocative view though I’m not sure I can agree with everything and have a few points.

    – If the new services that run off the telco networks are parasites, does that mean that telcos are then the parasties of the power companies who keep all their equipment running? This thread could get circular pretty quickly about who depends on who, so I’ll leave it alone from here.

    – A bigger question – what drives the new technologies like 4G? In other words, to what extent is the growth in apps and other online services forcing innovation in the telcos to meet the demand to consume these services? Are the telcos making money from these new apps and services? Of course, demand for broadband (fixed and wireless) is going up not just because its there but because consumers want to access these new services and as a result telcos and ISPs can collect more revenue there than from a dial up subscriber. Would consumers be willing to pay $50 a month to access content and services from 2000 – probably not. I am sure that Google, Facebook and Apple all spend a lot of money for me to be able to access at least some (if not most) of their services for free with me only giving cash to the telco/ISP.

    But I do agree with one point. Connectivity is central to our daily lives and we assume it will always be there. Without the telcos providing this and keeping up the progression, the web of tomorrow just won’t happen.

    Regards,
    Mike