Telcos and carriers diversify to survive

Major telecoms suppliers and carriers are now keen to promote alternative value-added services to help them through the downturn.

At last month’s TMA telecoms show in Brighton, UK, exhibitors were trying to attract the attention of the telecom managers who make up the majority of the show’s visitors with services like teleworking solutions and videoconferencing.

Such a move was an acknowledgement that the "plain vanilla" bandwidth market has gone through the floor and the large corporates aren’t currently spending much on router equipment to support their national networks.

Alcatel was using TMA, organised by the UK-based Communications Management Association, to promote its new teleworking packages, which it sees as a good way to generate extra sales for its main optical networking business.

Dave Hills, Alcatel marketing director for carrier services market development, told Lightwave Europe: "People are no longer blindly spending on telecoms equipment, so companies like Alcatel have to help stimulate the market by working in areas like broadband services, billing, authentication, and content.

"It’s clear that the teleworking market is growing quickly, and we can provide complete hardware and software solutions to those companies that want to take advantage of such working, while at the same time generating the traffic that can be supported by Alcatel’s core infrastructure business."

Alcatel’s move to ultimately stimulate demand for routers and other kit for the carrier market seems logical enough, but the carriers were also taking the same kind of action to generate sales through similar value added services.

Telewest Business senior product manager Toby Treacher said the company, which is a leading provider of broadband access over cable in the UK, was now focusing on services like videoconferencing, teleworking and IP-VPN services to stimulate its basic broadband access business.

"We’ve got to come out with a reason why businesses need broadband and these types of services help," he said.

While Telewest has over 190,000 consumers signed up to broadband with bundled voice services, the company currently has only between 6,000 and 7,000 business customers, so it is using these types of services to gain more higher-spending business customers.

Albrecht Faber, head of marketing and sales strategies at Munichbased European Computer Telecoms (ECT), a company that supplies call centre solutions, said of value-added services: "The data transport and access markets are going to be very tough next year, so the major players have to find new revenue streams."

By Antony Savvas, Brighton, UK

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