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Telstra: APAC telco landscape evolving, not shrinking

Growing deployment of cloud and Internet of Things as well as demand for security will push demand for robust, pervasive connectivity, says Telstra exec, who adds that these will present tremendous opportunities for telcos.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

The role of telcos is evolving, not shrinking, with tremendous growth opportunities to come from cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise mobility, as well as security.

According to Martijin Blanken, group managing director and chief customer officer of Telstra's global enterprise and services, the increasing deployment of IoT devices would put more demands for pervasive and robust connectivity.

In an interview with ZDNet, Blanken dismissed suggestions that Asia-Pacific telcos faced increasing pressures with falling ARPU (average revenue per user) and non-traditional market players such as OTT (over-the-top) services providers entering the market.

"I'm bullish about telco industry because of IoT...many more [of these] devices will be connected and will use the underlying infrastructure [to connect]," he said, adding that this potentially would lead to more revenue as businesses and consumers hook up to IoT devices.

"There's nothing wrong with being dumb pipes as long as you're good at it," he noted, in response to questions on whether a telco's role needed to be more than basic access providers. He explained that with growing cloud and IoT adoption, reliable connectivity would be vital to support these services and devices.

Security also would be critical since enterprises would be moving more and more workloads into the cloud, and would want to ensure these were adequately protected, Blanken said.

He further refuted suggestions that telcos were challenge by increasing price pressures, with the cost of bandwidth and access services dipping, as the associated costs for these market players also would have dropped.

Furthermore, he expected the emergence of IoT to add significant scale in terms of demand for connectivity, hence, pushing new revenue for telcos.

"The actual ARPU may be dropping a little, but the SIO (services in operation) is still growing," he said, pointing to value per user, rather per SIM as a better gauge of revenue generated, since each user would own multiple web-connected devices. "More SIO activated are from 'things' [such as cars] rather than people, and the ARPU from these 'things' may be small but the scale can be massive."

Just like IoT, with more workloads moving to the cloud, networks would be required to enable access to these instances, Blanken said, paving the way for telcos to play a role in providing seamless connectivity. "Enterprise customers don't care where the workload is [processed]...they only care about low latency and high performance," he said.

Telstra launches cloud management dashboard

In this aspect, Telstra had been beefing up efforts to expand its infrastructure and services.

The Australian telco on Tuesday unveiled its cloud management platform, touted to help businesses operate and oversee their public and private cloud services via a single dashboard.

With the majority of organisations expected to run hybrid cloud environments, and few choosing to put their workloads in one cloud platform, Blanken said the new tool would offer real-time visibility across all cloud resources and workloads. This consolidated view would enable businesses to make informed decisions based on current requirements and application performance, he added.

The cloud management dashboard would be available in Australia next month, with support for four public cloud platforms: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Softlayer, and VMware vCloud Air. The new offering also would be available in international markets, though, only with support for Softlayer and AWS.

Asked if there were plans to include other cloud platforms such as Alibaba's Aliyun in China, Blanken said Telstra would continue to add more options and expand support for other cloud environments, including Aliyun.

The telco currently operates 30 data centres across the Asia-Pacific region including five each in China and Singapore, three each in Tokyo and Hong Kong, and one in India.

According to Blanken, Telstra currently had the region's largest sub-cable footprint, accounting for 30 percent of all lit capacity. It also was the largest foreign telco in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and a licensed IDC (Internet Data Centre) in China through its joint venture with PBS, he said.

He added that international connectivity, including managed services, and cloud, accounted for the majority of Telstra's revenue, with carriers and OTT players comprising two-thirds of its customer base and enterprise clients rounding up the rest of its clientele.

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