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2016 was an interesting year for the telecoms world. Once upon a time, the mobile platform was used as a standalone channel by operators to provide core voice services. And while voice services still remain one of the biggest revenue streams for MNOs, in 2016 mobile evolved to become a baseline for new, branded digital experiences. Mobile remained in the spotlight, thanks to popular messaging apps, emerging chat bots and the exploding Internet of Things creating new touch-points and means of communication. The main actors in this digital revolution are the digital service providers and MVNOs. As new entrants to the telecoms market, these players challenged traditional telcos in providing the voice and video calling services that we now take for granted.

Network infrastructure is the backbone of 21st century society. Whether you’re in Berlin, London, Paris or Rome, we often take for granted the fact that high-speed, low latency internet connectivity is integral to the smooth running of today’s digital economy. As we strive for quicker connections, more bandwidth and better network coverage in harder-to-reach areas of the world, data and connectivity requirements grow exponentially. And so power hungry servers and server farms across the world eat away at connectivity services in a bid to provide the best possible service at breakneck speed. To bridge the gap between supply and demand, companies are building more datacentres, and according to IDC, the number of datacentres popping up in the world will peak at 8.6 million by 2017.

Having a complete overview of activity on your network is vital to being able to plan, react, and adjust accordingly with whatever may happen. Nowhere is this more important that during the huge traffic spikes which occur every holiday season, and also during major sports tournaments around the globe. During events such as the Olympic Games in Rio, operators need extensive visibility of network usage in order to ensure reliable service. From supporting the 400% increase in roaming at the football World Cup in 2014, to enhancing roamer experience at this summer’s major tournaments in Brazil and France; BICS understands that providing the best Quality of Experience to new customers on their network is a priority for operator customers.

It won’t come as any surprise to anyone working in the industry that operators in Europe and Asia are pushing forward with their LTE-A, VoLTE and VoWiFi deployments. However, the rapid pace of development and launch illustrated in the latest Ovum VoLTE and LTE-A tracker (Q3 2016) shows the future is approaching faster than anyone expected. At the current trajectory it won’t be long before the majority of subscribers in developed markets will be able to access improved data speeds through LTE-A and clearer voice services. VoLTE offers increased quality for consumers while in the case of Voice over Wi-Fi, operators can improve access to voice in areas with patchy indoor cellular coverage. This is a natural evolution that is now taking place at astounding speed.

The fantasy of living in an isolated island is a popular dream of many, but many of these areas are fast becoming a lot less secluded as local populations and businesses demand better connectivity, both on the island and to connect to friends and family members elsewhere in the world. Answering this call, operators are now making large investments to boost local business and provide residents with the complete range of connectivity services.

However, providing these facilities is far from easy. Many of these areas have limited fixed broadband infrastructure, due to traditionally low demand from the local population, and are often victim to hot and humid climates leading to erratic weather conditions and other geographic problems.

Africa is a unique and exciting market in the global telecoms arena with astounding growth prospects as new technology integrates with popular legacy services to create a more connected continent. With a region as large as Africa, there are many local and macro-trends that service providers need to address for their specific market. There are also a number of continent-wide developments which have been key to driving forward the communications market. Voice remains a major source of revenue for operators across the continent, yet with smartphone adoption swiftly increasing year-on-year, consumers are faced with alternative providers offering similar services through apps. In some areas, this challenge has been addressed by regulators blocking communications apps, while in other countries it has been up to the operators to meet this challenge through reduced pricing or introducing new tariffs.

A company is only as good as its staff, and that’s why at BICS we are keen to support our team by providing a working environment which is stimulating, rewarding and supportive of individual goals and promoting an exceptional work-life balance.

Our team is as diverse as our customer-base with 52 different nationalities represented in our Brussels head office and across our footprint in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. The variety of backgrounds represented creates an inspirational atmosphere filled with new ideas from all sectors and levels. It is in BICS’ DNA to ensure the team is fully supported in their career development, listening to ideas voiced by our employees. This enables us to remain at the centre of innovation and ensures the needs of our entire customer-base are being met as feedback from our teams is routed back to decision-makers.

The dynamic MENA (Middle East and North Africa) market is one of BICS’ most successful across its whole global footprint. Enthusiastic operators throughout Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and beyond have driven growth in next generation services to better serve their subscribers. With over twelve years of experience in the Middle East, BICS has always been close to its customers, providing local expertise in the management of business relationships at commercial and technical level, including the deployment of a local NOC (network operations centre) in UAE. BICS’ regional presence has been recently extended through the implementation of PoPs (points of presence) in the region, improving service efficiency and providing customers the opportunity to connect to BICS within the region at reduced cost.

Concerns of authentication and number verification are key issues in 2016 as digital service providers look to secure their application or reduce wasted expenditure from engaging with erroneous or spam phone numbers. Innovative businesses have seized the opportunity to address the demand for digital services, resulting in a volley of applications and A2P messaging from social media platforms, through to online banking and travel. These applications have boosted the market, not only allowing players to monetise the mobile ecosystem, but also providing a better experience for end-users.

In the mobile marketplace, digital communications providers are one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry, and in this area, the US remains the global centre for innovation. To achieve this success and expand their range of services, web-based and app communications providers need to enlist the experience of traditional carrier service providers, such as BICS, as our unrivaled insight into the mobile market and our solution suites enable these digital providers with the tools to develop their business and offer a seamless customer experience to their end users.

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