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.
Protection of this revenue is a major priority for operators and an area where BICS has an enviable record of offering innovative solutions to preserve this stream. These include tools to encourage the use of international services and create competitive pricing structures, in addition to providing other cloud-based solutions, such as FraudGuard, that actively prevent fraudulent calls to and from the network.
While the increase in smartphone usage has led to an increase in competition for traditional communication services, it has also led to an increase in domestic data usage. This, we anticipate, will follow a similar trajectory as Europe when the growth in domestic usage spreads to roaming usage. We are already seeing this in some of Africa’s more developed markets where operators are focused on providing their enterprise and higher tier customers with high-speed data connectivity and international roaming services both in neighbouring countries and to business destinations around the world.
To ensure these customers can access the highest quality connectivity across these borders many operators have adopted BICS’ roaming value added services and analytics platform SMART that allows operators to take greater control over their customers’ experience by monitoring traffic and performance of the network in real-time.
The BICS Data Roaming Control (DRC) solution is a set of comprehensive services allowing mobile operators to safely manage and control their outbound roamers’ data usage, starting with simple tariff and regulatory notifications, controlling spending limits and offering subscribers ways to purchase and consume roaming plans.
The increase of smartphone penetration has also created an increased need for international bandwidth. 3G coverage is now launched in all countries but 2G connections are still the large majority in Sub-Saharan Africa. 4G networks are picking up slowly with licences granted to new players, who have taken the opportunity to penetrate the market as Internet Service Providers, offering high speed internet connectivity to compensate for the lack of xSDL lines.
However, although this is undoubtedly a growing area, the provision of LTE is still fairly limited in most African markets. Once the initial networks have launched, VoLTE can then be developed in a second phase. BICS is very well placed for the convergence for both LTE roaming and voice services.
The multi-SIM nature of connectivity on the continent means to enable these services ubiquitously, operators must partner with carrier service providers that are able to connect with major providers in all markets throughout the region, which is why many choose BICS.
Our operation in Africa has gone from strength to strength in recent years with offices now open across the continent and points of presence created at geographically strategic locations. These enable direct transit routes and increase the availability of low latency services for voice and data roaming traffic both within Africa and abroad. We believe that quality is a must to guarantee satisfactory customer experience, which ensures not only higher data and voice revenue but also guarantees high value customer acquisition and their retention. These extensive routes can be enhanced by the availability of the BICS IP over Satellite service which provides a robust back-up for challenging areas.
Africa offers the potential for impressive levels of growth, from the increased use of data services to further usage of A2P SMSservices which are widely utilised for banking, medical and other related services. BICS has partnered with many MNOs to help them to monetise their international messaging revenue with BICS SMS FW and advisory sales to optimise the SMS strategy.
With its large product portfolio, its innovative solutions tailored to the African market and the full control of its network, BICS is in a unique and ideal position to help mobile operators to optimise their international revenues.
An article by Clementine FOURNIER, Regional Vice President Africa, BICS