Reporting Within the Sub-Saharan African Telecom Industry: Challenges, Growth and Innovation

Marc Lippe  The Sub-Saharan African telecom industry is a specific environment with a unique series of challenges and opportunities to match this region’s demand for innovative services like mobile money and enterprise managed services. Communications service providers (CSPs) in the market have demonstrated their ability to adapt. As such, the global telecom industry has had no choice but to give the dynamics in Africa a closer look.

Specifically, the growth of mobile data use in Sub-Saharan Africa has created high expectations amongst mobile operators in terms of infrastructure, network and service performance and adaptability. Today’s mobile and data services can span multiple network technologies and vendors, from the datacenter to the radio access network (RAN), meaning that customers can access the same service from different locations or devices. This makes it very difficult for mobile operators to ensure a consistent quality of experience (QoE) for African customers. Further, network convergence in the region has set new challenges for network performance management, driving the need for increased network efficiency and better oversight of differentiated quality of service (QoS) levels.

One solution for Sub-Saharan African mobile operators is to develop new revenue streams from competitive reporting services. For one, such reporting would provide mobile operators with end-to-end visibility into their network and service performance levels, allowing them to consistently match subscribers’ demands for a high QoE. This network intelligence would also help mobile operators expand their product portfolios, when needed, in response to the ever-changing mobile market.

Second, mobile operators that can provide detailed and holistic network performance reports can market these as a value-add service to potential customers, offering proactive notification for customers to upgrade their services and monitor SLAs. These reporting capabilities also provide a valuable operational tool for subscribers to combine product management, network and business operations, network engineering and capacity planning, thereby helping African mobile operators create multiple new revenue streams.

Third, these reports are particularly valuable when it comes to assuring subscribers’ QoE. For example, operators can anticipate or quickly determine that call drop rates at a cell site are related to clock synchronization problems on a microwave backhaul network. This scenario, among others, have a huge impact on the customer-subscriber relationship and cost savings, allowing African mobile operators to provide a better level of service for subscribers, while saving millions in potential revenue loss due to network and service performance issues—and churn.