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“If WhatsApp is going to give free voice – no problem. Need to be profitable with free Voice and Text” – Mats Granryd, Tele2

Mats Granryd

“We’re a disruptor. We as carriers are by no means obsolete. We are at the epicenter of all that is happening. This (the Mobile World Congress) is no longer only an event for operators such as myself, and vendors, as it was 15 years ago. Today it is a complete ecosystem: you have OTT (Internet) players, Visa, Cars,” Mats Granryd, President & CEO of Swedish telecom operators Tele2 said at the Mobile World Congress yesterday, talking about how he sees the role of telecom operators in a world that is being disrupted. “We said that we’re not going to focus on voice and text. We’re building this company on data. If WhatsApp is going to give free voice – no problem. They’ll have to use my pipe. In a voice centric world, you just had to redial in case of a dropped call. In the world of data, when you’re doing money transfer or buying at ticket, you cannot afford a drop. The networks have to be better.”

“The second (factor that works for telecom operators) is customer intimacy. I am going to fight for that privilege till end of day. OTT players have tried to eat my lunch. We from Tele2 view them as our best friends. We try and build a force for good partnership with them because they drive consumption. People will use my pipe and I’ll make more money. Quarter-on-quarter, we’ve proved that growth with data is possible. You can’t come with the old redundant mentality. The focus has to be in building out a network and a focus on quality. We’re trying to figure out whether the buckets I sell to customers should be big or small, bundled with handsets or fixed services. To retain a customer. We’re all growing up. We are only 7-8 years old (as a data centric industry).”

“We need to be a little edgy and try new stuff. We decoupled the handset from the SIM card, and no binding period. Bundling is a proof of poor self confidence. By doing those things and challenging the industry.” “When it comes to internet of things and M2M, it is just at the point of taking off. For us, it is about using the 2G network and coupling that with 4G technology.”

Just a pipe? On Telcos selling services

“If you try to be too fluffy on the strategy, you risk being disrupted. We’re a pipe, a smart pipe and happy being a smart pipe, which works in every way. We are building partnerships around that pipe. We will never venture out to do our own music service and video service. We will stay true to the pipe, and be the best pipe. On Tele2, you would be on 4G 95% of the time.”

“Plenty of MNO’s (mobile network operators/carriers) have tried to venture on to the other side of the pipe. I am yet to see one successful MNO. Someone earlier on said that MNOs are poor on innovation, and I think that is right. We are skilled in terms of pricing and building networks and communicating. To believe that I will compete with a Spotify is absurd. The walled garden approach that was hyped a few years ago. Our business is that voice and text will be free, and you need to gear up the company to be profitable in an all data environment. We are living proof. Data is just growing like never before. IoT is around the corner, on low revenue and low margins today. Stay true to the core business.”

“I don’t think the regulators are getting increasingly active. The notion of us making money to put back into CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) is important, because we’re are becoming the backbone for society. It’s become much more interesting. Much more of a social impact.”

On Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is not good: we would not survive in a world where the world is neutral. Once 4G and VoLTE is available, we do need the ability to prioritise traffic. It’s okay in data if it’s 5 seconds later than the previous packet. Not voice. It would be okay broadly with some exceptions. The whole regulatory environment is really interesting. We would welcome a level playing field between MNO’s and OTT players. Do you know how many years an iMessage is going to be kept? We’re heavily regulated in terms of keeping privacy.”

On Zero Rating

“As an MNO, I am living off data. Zero rating might be free for using Facebook and Google, even WhatsApp, is fine. You will use my pipe anyway. MNO’s in the future, the text and voice will be free. The only way of making money is to charge properly for data. Because, I will charge you for the content of the data. We make a happy living. The consumption of data is tripling year after year. In Sweden, we have the highest consumption in Europe. We consume 4 Gig per month, compared to the UK where it is 1 gig. We continue to consume and more and more. It’s like selling drugs.”

Image Credit: Tele2

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