What does ‘telco paradise’ look like?

I want you to pause for a second, and think carefully about this one question: What was the greatest moment of professional achievement in your life? Hold that time in mind. Remember the feeling. How would you describe such ‘total success’ in your work?

Now, holding that same feeling in mind, what would such a heavenly place be like if replicated across the whole of your organisation? Of even across the whole of your industry?

As a bit of fun, I am going to paint a picture of what the telecoms industry might be like with similar maximum attainment.


In ‘telco paradise’, the way in which we conceive and design products would be different from today. We would be able to divide up the network resources and allocate them to different users and uses with ultimate precision. Supply and demand would always be in perfect balance.

In practise, that means we could be able to create performance-segmented offers for different types of user or application. These would match ability to pay to the resources being used. The resulting services would clearly articulate their fitness-for-purpose to users. This would take away risk from users, who would then be willing to pay a premium.

In this future, salespeople would nearly weep with joy. Those who characterised their customers’ needs better than their rivals would find strong market differentiation, and jumbo-sized bonuses.

This customer experience goal would not be achieved at the expense of over-engineering. Instead, we would simultaneously reach the highest possible intensity of resource use. Telco CFOs would glow with delight as products and services always had predictable and sustainable operational costs.

For product development, their utopia would be a portfolio of transport products with maximum coverage of market needs, yet with minimum overlap. The quality range of products would be carefully managed, so that there were known and minimised performance arbitrage opportunities.

Jubilant network engineers would work with tools whose exactitude would make rocket scientists feel ashamed in comparison. All projects would be known to be feasible to economically deliver at scale. Integration risk would always be low and managed.

In our fantasy, proud CIOs and CTOs would be able to demonstrate their operational performance difference from the competition. The dependability of product performance would enable marketers to price to value, and keep SLA breach risk low and managed. Nobody would ever face the prospect of a contract that could not cover its costs.

Our contented operations staff would know that their capacity plan perpetually reflects all performance risks. The need for unplanned capacity spending would be eliminated. Under-delivery of quality of experience (compared to what was promised) would be virtually unheard of.

Everybody in support would have access to a clear definition of ‘success’ (and hence ‘failure’) for service delivery. They would face a world with low complexity. Instead of running around trying all kinds of ‘fixes’, they would be able to isolate performance issues quickly, even transient ones. This would be the case even in complex supply chains, having clear attribution of blame.

Consequently, in telco paradise, we would see sub-linear growth in OPEX with scale. High profitability would have investors scrambling to get into this extraordinarily successful sector.

Now, it won’t have escaped your attention that we don’t live in a telco paradise. In a future article I will explore why we’re nearer to purgatory, and what the route to redemption might look like.

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