By François Eloy, EVP, Colt Communication Services

Network operators that were once primarily focused on delivering voice services in a single market are now forced to enter new markets and offer solutions that integrate new technologies to generate new revenue streams.

However, no operator is able to provide telecommunications and IT services in all regions nor is able to cover the full voice, data and managed IT services portfolio alone.

As a consequence, operators are increasingly turning to third party service providers with white label solutions to extend their offerings.

Services that enable a quick “go to market” strategy are key. In many areas applying a white label approach is the fastest and most cost efficient way of introducing new services while keeping capex, opex and financial risks at a minimum.

Indeed, operators stand to realise significant cost savings by using white label services as opposed to deploying their own wholly-owned networks and services.

While the premise of driving new services and operations in new markets through adding one’s proprietary brand to a third party’s white label service offering sounds like an obvious choice for operators, there are risks involved.

With end-customers having no visibility of the underlying infrastructure and partners involved, any outage or service degradation will only reflect badly on an operator’s brand. Therefore, operators need a partner they can trust, with service level agreements (SLAs) in place that they can rely on.

This in turn allows operators to offer their own guarantees to their end-customers, ensuring end-to-end service availability and service assurance at all times.

Consequently, in order to develop a successful white label strategy, supplier management becomes even more important than it is already.

Operators who have selected the most reliable suppliers and manage the integration and service assurance in the most efficient way will be successful in providing the highest quality new solutions in the shortest development time.

Similarly, entry into new geographic markets can be fraught with complications – each country has its own set of regulations and licensing requirements that operators need to comply to.

In addition to local regulations that must be considered, tailoring operations to meet specific local needs can also be very costly. The costs associated with the management of local OSS and BSS alone can grow quickly considering the implementation and management of local call centres, billing and invoicing, and customer relationship management tools, to name just a few.

It’s important that operators first invest time in choosing a white label services provider with not only a large enough footprint to support business objectives for geographic expansion, but also one with the local market experience and presence to effectively bring new services to market.

Whereas the integration of third party solutions into their portfolio is a way for operators to extend their service portfolio and geographical reach, network operators can also extend their market reach by white labelling their own services to enable the integration of their services into the portfolio of other operators and service providers.

In addition, more operators are seeking to enter the market for managed IT services by adding network capabilities and voice services to their portfolio. This has not been a key competency of most operators in the past and so they should seek only experienced partners for managed service provision which can not only speed time to market but also facilitate knowledge transfer into the operator’s organisation, which is another critical success factor.

The white label approach is becoming an increasingly important strategy, enabling operators to better compete and grow by allowing them to focus on areas that help build and reinforce their brand.

The caveat, as always, is that any successful white label strategy is dependent on working with a reliable partner with deep local market experience, capable of satisfying customers’ increasing demands for seamless performance and high quality services.

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