MTN GlobalConnect, a digital wholesale and infrastructure services company, is investing in an end-to-end digital ecosystem offering advanced digital solutions to businesses in Africa. Leading the journey is General Manager of Wholesale Mobility Kedar Gupte, who is driven by the market opportunity in a mobile-first economy. Telecom Review Africa had the chance to talk with him and learn what MTN GlobalConnect is planning for the digital wholesale mobility landscape of Africa.
What can you tell us about the African mobility landscape and how is it changing?
By 2025, Sub-Saharan Africa’s unique mobile users are expected to grow to 614m according to GSMA. With 50% smartphone penetration and increasing digital consumption, Voice, SMS, Email, USD, RCS, OTT and many such channels will continue to be effective communication tools for businesses. In the last two years, mobile and the wider new digital world have come together like no one could have imagined and this has presented us with unique opportunities and a range of challenges in Africa. Some of these challenges include a fast-changing competitive landscape, regulatory mediations, data pervasiveness, and the security of digital solutions. Africa continues to be a mobile-first economy, and 5G is now a reality. Popular use cases such as Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Fixed Wireless (FWA), and the Internet of Things (IoT) need relevant low latency communications, and these are gaining massive traction.
Could you elaborate more on what does Wholesale Mobility do and offer?
Wholesale Mobility facilitates direct and secure global communication flow between Africa and the World. We have developed innovative solutions and relevant business models that focus on the buyer. In a commoditised market, buyer value is at the core of our solutions and in doing we continue to reshape aspects of our market. We bring efficiency-of-scale to usage-based businesses in Africa, cost is a critical differentiator when aiming to capture wallet size in our region.
Through the management and direct ownership of key assets and customer relationships, MTN GlobalConnect takes end-to-end responsibility for MTN’s wholesale business.
We understand that the Y’elloConnect Communication Platforms are significant to your offering. Can you tell us about these platforms?
Y’ello Connect Communication Platforms are central interconnection nodes for Voice, Signalling, SMS, Roaming and APIs that meet wholesale market expectations of quality, cost and efficiency when communicating with 280 million MTN subscribers, across 20 countries through a single contract, single interconnect, and a single bill. They are connected through the most complete backbone network in Africa and establish MTN GlobalConnect as a single-entry point for access to the largest mobile network infrastructure on the continent, including a national and metro fibre network soon to be more than 135,000km.
Digital transformation in general and COVID-19 more recently have impacted consumer behaviour with an increase in messaging. How has this impacted the GlobalConnect offering?
I would not say the demand for voice has declined, I would say traditional voice has been outpriced by other disruptive options and making it unattractive to retail callers. We are doing our best to keep the lights on traditional voice calling by evolving our prices to best consume our cost base.
On the other hand, digital transformation and COCID-19 have indeed altered behaviour and created an attractive demand for us. Today, omnichannel communication is a major driver of customer satisfaction, since communication preferences are so varied, and customers expect to be contacted by the medium of their choice. We are focused on offering a major leap in value for those catering to this growing demand, carving a niche for ourselves and not worrying about competition incessantly. To put it simply, our direct routes to MTN and other mobile networks give better quality; higher volumes give better prices. Smaller providers do not have this advantage. These benefits are particularly important for those CPaaS companies that are heavily invested in contextual communication, but less so for those that focus on OTT services.
Can you shed some light on some of your key products/solutions?
There are two big-ticket portfolios that customers can look forward to experiencing - IPX and Platform as a Service play.
With IPX, beyond the conventional building blocks, we are deploying a battery of predictive analytics tools and establishing a framework for a more robust monitoring, alarming, reporting, and charging ecosystem. This is done with a clear objective of systematically maximising opportunity and minimising risk. Examples: Silent data roamers are slated to increase, however with the launch of the right bundles using need policy controls in pricing models, we aim to reverse this trend. IoT installed base is likely to increase 50% by 2025 - in the absence of advanced analytics, reporting and interactive tools, we cannot provide differential charging models and may lose out.
With PaaS, we enable our customers with telecom assets needed to develop their own SaaS platform. These include numbering resources, connectivity, mobile identity and many more. Use cases are diverse, some of the largest include marketing, authentication, conferencing, and customer support. Each of these can be delivered over a variety of different mediums, including voice, SMS, email, OTT, RCS and so on. Here again, we offer extensive analytics services as part of the offering to gain trust and customer commitment.
In addition, large brands are seeing value and attracted to our signaling network and direct connections gaining access to our telecommunication infrastructure, and that is something other parties cannot deliver.
What solutions can we look forward to in the future?
Going forward, we want to own the platforms and application services running on our platforms. Our solutions aim to offer customers increased communication functionality and a broader ecosystem of communication APIs, driving cutting-edge and leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.
What case studies can you share that have been successful?
Secure engagement and transparency are fundamental needs in the digital segment. Powered by a state-of-the-art Platform, we have recently partnered with a large digital player to service their authentication requirement with a 5-year commitment and at a 9 figure $ value. This is a significant deal and potentially a first by any African mobile network operator. We are both humbled and proud of our customer’s trust and look forward to providing them with excellent customer service.