Free to focus beyond the network

John C. Tanner
Telecom Asia

Best Mobile Carrier

 CSL

Last year's winner:Celcom Axiata
CEO:Joseph O'Konek
Key shareholder: Telstra
Key stats (Half year ending 31/12/10): Income: HK$3.124b ($401.9m); EBITDA: HK$556m ($71.2 m); 2.6 subs

Joseph O'Konek, CEO, CSL LimitedIt's been an eventful year for CSL, not least for its claim to fame as the first operator in Asia to officially launch LTE. Granted, there were no devices for it, but that was almost beside the point given that what CSL had actually done was accomplish its mission to transform itself into a spectrum-rich all-IP next-generation network geared up to handle future mobile data growth.

CEO Joseph O'Konek cites the LTE launch, combined with DC-HSPA+, CSL's wealth of spectrum - to include refarming its 900-MHz spectrum for HSPA and flexible software-defined radio BTSs that make it possible - as the main contributors to the cellco's success both in the market and at this year's TA Awards. 

"Building on the strategy that was laid out over three years ago to completely revamp the network really began to pay the dividends last year," says O'Konek. "Rolling out LTE first alongside DC-HSPA+ and maximizing the spectrum was really the key accomplishment."

The other key element, he adds, is that the network revamp frees CSL to turn its attention inward and rework its internal processes to improve the customer experience.

"We received approval from the board in January this year to make the capital investment over the next 18-24 months to bring our IT systems to 21st-century, state-of-the-art levels," O'Konek explains. "That really starts with the data architecture - how do you move away from this 'account' and move your customer to the center of all your systems and processes?"

But there's more to it than restructuring backend systems, he says - it's also about revamping the concept of the customer relationship.

O'Konek credits the iPhone 4 for serving as a learning tool for understanding customers.

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