As I look back on TM Forum’s Management World Asia conference in February, our largest Asia-focused conference to date, I’m struck by the how dramatically the Asian communications market has changed over the last 20 years.
Until fairly recently Asia has been viewed more as a follower in terms of adoption of key standards and innovation in the communications space. However, in the past five years or so, that perception has been turned on its head with Asia rapidly moving from being a follower of Western innovation to being the innovative leader itself.
Today, the eyes of the world are definitely turned to Asia in many respects, from transformation programs, improving efficiency, increasing ARPU, launching bold new services and more, and the TM Forum, a global non-profit industry association focused on simplifying the complexity of running a service provider’s business organization, is there working with key service providers to develop standards and best practices suited to the region.
Breaking it down
While it may be simplistic, the communications industry tends to think of Asia as being comprised of four distinct sub-groupings -- China, India, Japan and Korea, and Southeast Asia -- although one could easily argue that there are many more.
The industry views China as unique unto itself, with its large number of subscribers and the network complexity that goes along with it in terms of data management and billing. While an operator like China Mobile is managing half a billion customers, there are another 800 million potential customers.
Clearly, the Chinese market is far from saturated, but operators are experiencing shrinking ARPU as service rolls out to lower income customers. As a result, they are forced to enable incredibly high levels of operational and IT efficiency. To complicate matters, all of this growth and dynamic competitive attitude is happening in a very tightly regulated and structured market.