Omnitele attended the Teleforum conference on June 9th and 10th in Malta. This session was the 30th installment of the Teleforum as the annual conference of the Telecom Operators of Small States, including mobile operators from Malta, Cyprus, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Cabo Verde, Iceland, and Greenland. Omnitele has been sponsoring the Teleforum since 2002 and Omnitele has been a trusted consultant to many of the Teleforum members.

The Teleforum operators form a kind of micro cosmos of small independent operators that have established positions in their respected markets but that are facing the same challenges of the industry at large including falling ARPU and margins while having to accommodate increasing data traffic volumes. Their relatively small operations add to the complexity in dealing with these matters and hence the Teleforum operators have chosen to share best practices in order to innovate and steer their businesses towards success.

In the Malta Teleforum the discussions were along the lines of the well-known paradigms of Telecom operators being either efficient, network-based connectivity infrastructure providers, or diversified players offering a range of services such as banking, media, IT solutions in addition to connectivity. As providing connectivity comes with significant capex requirements, Teleforum members need to find ways to fund and build their future businesses, strengthen their core businesses ,and find new growth opportunities.

Concerning core business, Teleforum members agreed to the necessity to remain competitive in their traditional offerings by reinventing core networking layers and adding new network access, such as 5G and FTTx. Furthermore, by merging IT and network technology where of course competition from hyper scalers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud is eminent. 5G will offer the possibility of network slicing and associated private network offerings that will potentially also create new connectivity business opportunities. The same is true for IoT that can also offer larger scale connectivity business potential. In that respect Open Access Network models could also be considered, where third service parties use the network infrastructure.

Concerning these new growth opportunities, beyond the traditional connectivity provision, discussions took place around the support of Digital Transformation in the respective Teleforum member markets. This for example through the provision of cloud native applications and APIfication using open APIs, like in the case of Open Banking. IoT is obviously also a possible business differentiator, where Teleforum members are venturing into IoT healthcare, smart homes, smart cities and industrial IoT domains. Another success case is the international IoT business where through a set of roaming agreements, IoT services are offered on a global scale based on Teleforum member SIMs. Finally cyber security is an area of great interest to industry and the traditional telecom operator could play a role in this field.

Obviously, for most of the above-mentioned new growth opportunities partnerships with for example IT, services and business partners are required, as the in-house competences will not suffice given again the relatively small size of the Teleforum members. Therefore, operators have to pay special attention to selection of the right, often local partners, and the parallel development of the own organisation.

Central to either growing the core business or potentially looking for new growth opportunities, remains however the customer relationships and brands of the Teleforum members which are well recognised in their respective markets and the operators can subsequently build on that.

During the last 20 years Omnitele has assisted many Teleforum members in strategy consultancy and network and technology transformation ranging from 2Gtechnology right through the present day 5G technology transformation. Omnitele is committed to continue providing the advisory and network services that support the transformations and growth strategies mentioned above, both for Teleforum members as well as for any other operator, who will be faced with the same challenges.

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