The wholesale sector may be suffering, with prices plummeting and volume growth slowing, but you wouldn't know it by the 1,200 executives who spent the better part of a week in Cebu, Philippines, in early September ironing out bilateral deals with their many partners.
Judging from discussions with a number of telcos, that's a lot of voice and a bit of data. A common question when people would meet was "do you handle voice OR data?" So much for convergence.
Doy Vea, chief wireless advisor at Smart Communications, set the tone for the wholesale gathering by boldly stating that: "It's the end of the world for old business models". He said that according to Ovum, 75% of voice traffic now is VoIP. Margins are continuously being squeezed and increased volumes can only make up the gap for so long.
Vea said the future is to "go retail," which was the theme of the eighth Asian Carriers Conference - "Transferring to a new telecom wholesale-retail ecosystem."
Telstra Global's Jim Clarke said in his presentation that as the line between wholesale and retail gets blurred the need for quality networks only becomes more important. "Dumb pipes in the future will be very important."
While IPX is expected to help operators innovate more rapidly, Edwin van Ierland from iBasis pointed out in the panel discussion that it won't slow the decline in prices and by no means will fix telcos' main problems, which will continue into the future.