Customer case

The Challenges of the Wholesale Market

Tue 14 Mar 2023

The “wholesale market” refers to all the services that fixed or mobile telecom operators provide to other telecom operators or to providers of content and applications on the Internet. These wholesale services are involved in most of the telecom services provided to end customers, whether they are consumers or businesses.

The wholesale market has both a domestic and an international dimension. With its increase since the pandemic, the proliferation of data usage poses many breakthroughs :

  • The gradual replacement of copper access networks with fiber access networks deployed by multiple stakeholders using new financing methods : as a result, historical operators are moving from a monopolistic situation with asymmetric regulation to a competitive situation with symmetric regulation.
  • The inevitable decline in international voice revenues, whose economic model relied on high termination fees, in the face of free communication services offered by OTT players such as WhatsApp.
  • The technological advancements of networks : softwarization and virtualization of network functions, and 5G Standalone mobile technology. Network virtualization involves separating the hardware and software layers of networks and providing network functions in software form on generic devices that integrate the necessary computing power, storage capacity and networking capabilities.
  • The emergence of new players in the market, such as infrastructure operators who make their fixed or mobile infrastructures available to commercial operators (including fiber companies, or fiberco, and tower companies, or towerco, often grouped under the term "infrastructure companies," or infraco), or Internet players who deploy their own infrastructures to get closer to end users — in this last category, we find Google or Facebook and their projects of submarine and terrestrial cables serving the African continent.
  • New business models : infrastructure sharing, marketplaces and new distribution channels.
  • Regulatory pressures that, instead of decreasing due to the development of competition, have adapted to these new challenges and remain very present.

Implementation of a Wholesale Strategy in Agile Model

Our customer is an international group, a telecom operator present in thirty countries on three continents. The company has recently set up a wholesale division to better serve this market. Our customer’s challenge is to offer a global network, an enriched connectivity offer and end-to-end support to its customers, whether they are operators, internet service providers, content providers or other companies.

Faced with the disruptions facing the wholesale market, our customer has pinpointed six strategic aspirations :

  • Strengthen domestic fixed wholesale in the context of more competitive infrastructures.
  • Build leadership in infrastructure.
  • Capture more value through connectivity.
  • Create the future of international networks.
  • Reinvent value-creating models for international voice and roaming.
  • Rethink operations.

These aspirations have been translated into strategic projects that cover both domestic wholesale, international wholesale and roaming, and address the issues of network evolution and offerings, operational efficiency, digitalization and customer experience.

Sofrecom’s Support Combines Strategy, Transformation and Operations…

The client has enlisted Sofrecom to support the defense plan of their international telco voice business, the evolution of their international voice operating model, the evolution of their Edge CDN offerings and finally the evolution of skills induced by the overall evolution of the sector.

Sofrecom’s support is based on three functions combining strategy, transformation and operations :

  • PMO to coordinate all launched projects
  • Agile Scrum Master to improve operational efficiency and ensure alignment among different stakeholders
  • Business project management

The first part of this support was to ensure the PMO function to guarantee the proper functioning of the projects. The role of the Sofrecom consultant was to ensure the overall coordination of the projects, to conduct the studies necessary for the analysis of the existing situation (mapping of existing processes, roles and functions of different stakeholders), to identify the decision-making tools and, finally, to propose the necessary governance for each project (key contributors, organization and governance by project, RACI and planning).

The second part of Sofrecom’s support was to introduce agile methods within projects in order to improve operational efficiency and team alignment. On one hand, the action of the Sofrecom consultant includes leading project teams according to agile methods (workshops, seminars, under one roof) to unite the various stakeholders around shared objectives. On the other hand, the action was to assimilate teams to the principles of agility and to instill this mindset in the various fields of expertise, some of which were sorely lacking.

The final aspect of Sofrecom’s support consisted of carrying out certain projects beyond the functions of the PMO and agile scrum master. Thus, the Sofrecom consultant guided a project related to the creation of a Data Factory, the objective of which is to rationalize the customer’s activity in the area of data production, quality and use for analysis or reporting. This Data Factory, which goes beyond mere operational efficiency, is a transformation project in itself and a key part of the customer’s strategy. To support this project, the Sofrecom consultant first mapped the existing site and assessed the users' needs, then created several sub-projects, managed and animated them with the creation of a Microsoft TEAMS group, and, finally, created a dictionary of business activity reporting.

…for Many Benefits for This Customer

At the end of the mission, our client strengthened its market position and clarified the relationships between the various stakeholders and their priorities. They are now teams that are aligned with the strategies and priorities of their project and are working together. Project management is now more consistent for the teams, and projects are better structured and coordinated thanks to the contribution of agile methods across all services of the operator.