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UP student plagiarizes

prize-winning photos
A UP student is in hot water after apparently plagiarizing several prize-winning

Carol Ramoran
Published 9:01 PM, September 22, 2013
Updated 11:04 PM, September 22, 2013


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – A graduate student of the country's premier state

university admitted to passing off as his own a photograph that recently won a contest
sponsored by the Chilean ambassador.

University of the Philippines graduate student Mark Joseph Solis made the confession
when Rappler contacted him by phone on Sunday, September 22.
"I'm deeply sorry. I'm in deep remorse. Right now, I already contacted the organizers
and I'm about to contact the owner to personally convey to him my deepest and
personal apology," Solis said.

Read: UP student apologizes for plagiarism

According to posts on the "Narinig ko sa UP" (Overheard at UP) Facebook page,

Solishad done this at least 5 times since 2011.

The most recent photo that Solis claimed to be his won the top prize in the Smiles for
the World photo contest conceptualized by Chilean Ambassador Roberto Mayorga.

It came under intense scrutiny on social networks on Sunday after the real owner of the
photograph, Gregory John Smith, revealed how "an impostor... abused my copyright."

Solis submitted a photo of a boy whom he said was named Nilo and was from
Zamboanga City. The caption stated that the boy helped his father farm seaweed.

During Chile's National Day on Wednesday, September 18, at the Cultural Center of the
Philippines, Solis was awarded $1,000 and roundtrip tickets to Chile and Brazil.

Smith, a social entrepreneur, said the photo belonged to the Children at Risk
Foundation, which he founded. The child in the photo was from Brazil, not Zamboanga
City, he said.

Smith posted a comment on a recent feature article on the ambassador claiming

ownership of the photo.
OUTRAGED. The owner of the controversial photo posted this comment on the article about the
Ambassador and his contest on Rappler

Taken from Flickr

Smith pointed to his Flickr account, which contained the same photo – taken in 2006 –
along with other photos of children in Brazil. The photo was titled, "Neptune, King of the
THE ORIGINAL. The photo, originally called 'Neptune, King of the sea' posted in the Children at Risk
Flickr account managed by Smith. Screengrab from Flickr

UP students expressed shock and anger at the apparent plagiarism.

Solis is a political science alumnus of UP and is currently taking up his Masters in Public
Administration at the National College of Public Administration and Governance.

The website of the International Association of Political Science Students said Solis is a
legislative staff of Senator Pia Cayetano.

Cayetano tweeted Sunday, "To those asking, Mark Solis was a probationary staff for
three months. He has not been connected with our office since June."

Not the first time

It wasn't the first time Solis joined and won a contest using photos taken by other

Solis sent Smith's photo to the United Nations International Year of Water
Cooperationcontest. The caption stated this time that the child was from India,
according to posts on the Narinig ko sa UP page.

Another photo he entered into the same contest was also from the Children At Risk
Foundation's Flickr album.
Solis returns reward to
Chilean Embassy
Mark Joseph Solis visited Chilean Ambassador Robert Mayorga on September 26 to
personally extend his apologies and return his prize

Raisa Serafica
Published 1:45 PM, September 27, 2013
Updated 2:32 PM, July 07, 2014


REWARDS RETURNED. After returning the rewards, Chilean Ambassador Robert Mayorga Lorca is
asking Mark Joseph Solis to participate in their future projects to fully redeem himself.

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Mark Joseph Solis, the UP student who admitted
passing off photos he does not own to win photo contests, returned his reward on
Thursday, September 26 and personally apologized to the Chilean Ambassador.
Accompanied by his mother, Amelita Solis, Mark Solis visited Chilean Ambassador to
the Philippines Roberto Mayorga to personally extend his apologies.

Solis also returned the mobile phone awarded to him and vouchers for the round trip
tickets to Brazil and Chile as well as the $1000 cash prize.

The embassy will no longer press charges against Solis. However, the Ambassador
asked Solis to redeem himself by supporting the Calidad Humana project.

"I accepted the apology but I told him that he needs to redeem himself and the
redemption period is a long process," Ambassador Mayorga said.

Long road to redemption

In the conversation that lasted at least an hour, Amb Mayorga asked Solis to participate
in the activities of the Calidad Humana project which primarily aims to preserve and
develop the positive elements that uniquely characterize Filipinos. Solis committed to
collaborate with the Embassy and its partners in advancing the goals of the project.

Solis agreed to invite and organize 15-20 children from his barangay in Paranaque for
the street football project of the Chilean Embassy. He is also committed to meet with the
children at least once a week in a span of a year for the fulfillment of the said project.

The ambassador intends to visit Solis and bring media with him after a month to check if
he has already jumpstarted his one-year commitment with the Calidad Humana project.

"If you get redemption of your behaviour and you start being a different person then you
can be an example to many Filipinos who needs to be redeemed," Mayorga told Solis.

No letter of appeal

The Chilean Ambassador also clarified earlier reports claiming that Solis sent a letter of
appeal to keep the reward.

The grand prize will be awarded instead to Medardo Marquez in a private ceremony that
will be held at the Chilean embassy on October 3.

The other winners, Hannah Reyes and Arnold Jumpay, will also be invited to receive
their respective prizes.

What about other prizes?

Solis recently bagged first place in a photo competition entitled "Smiles of the World"
sponsored by the Chilean embassy in Manila. However, netizens exposed Solis for
plagiarizing the prize-winning photo. They also revealed that Solis plagiarized the same
photo and other photos several times since 2011.

READ: UP student plagiarizes prize-winning photos

Solis has apologized to the photo's real owner. He blamed his "youthful ignorance and
recklessness" for his deplorable actions.

The UP grad student's woes may not be over yet. He faces a possible disciplinary case
in the University of the Philippines for violating the student code of conduct. He is also
the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process (OPAPP) after it was found that he plagiarized another photo to win an
OPAPP-sponsored contest.

"Let's move on"

In a statement posted on Facebook, Gregory John Smith, the real owner of the
plagiarized photo, appealed to netizens to move on.

"Good people, let’s move on now, because justice has already been done. We don’t
want a tragedy worse than what we already have," said Smith.

In his statement, Smith pointed out the many similar things Brazil and the Philippines
share – including the evils that both the countries need to correct. Smith added that
instead of being demoralized from this failure, Solis should try to learn his lessons and
move on.

"That young man needs to move on too, change his attitudes and redirect himself on the
right pathway to success, which we all know, is only possible through honest and hard
labor, something Mark Solis will obviously have to learn along the way, because there is
no other way," Smith said. - Rappler.com
Filed under:Ambassador Robert Mayorga LorcaCanlidad Humana projectChilean EmbassySmiles of the
WorldplagiarismMark Joseph Solis
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Chilean Embassy revokes
prize of photo plagiarist
The embassy is also 'considering taking legal action against' UP student Mark Joseph Solis, who
won their contest using somebody else's work

David Lozada
Published 4:06 PM, September 23, 2013
Updated 7:27 PM, July 02, 2014


MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The Embassy of Chile has revoked the prize it awarded to
Mark Joseph Solis, who was found to have stolen another photographer's work to enter and win
the recent Calidad Humana Project “Smiles for the World” competition.

READ: UP student plagiarizes prize-winning photos

In a statement issued on Monday, September 23, the Embassy of Chile said it is also
“considering taking legal action against” Solis.

“Part of Calidad Humana (strength of human character) involves living with integrity and
upholding the values of the Filipino people. Obviously, Mr. Solis has failed to abide by this,” the
embassy said.

Chilean Ambassador Roberto Mayorga said the incident should serve as an invitation for
Filipinos to have discussions on protecting the Filipino people’s Calidad Humana.

“This case must strengthen our faith and make us aware that we are in front of a hard challenge
to take care and preserve the Calidad Humana that the majority of Filipinos have,” Mayorga said.

The Chilean Embassy said it is currently re-evaluating other submissions in the contest. A new
set of winners is expected to be announced soon.

Plagiarized photograph

On Sunday evening, September 22, Solis confessed to Rappler that he passed off a photograph
by Gregory Smith as his own to enter the contest sponsored by the Chilean ambassador.

Solis submitted a photo of a boy whom he said was from Zamboanga City. Smith, a social
entrepreneur, said the photo belonged to the Children at Risk Foundation. The child in the photo
was from Brazil, not Zamboanga City.

On Chile's National Day last Wednesday, September 18, Solis was awarded $1,000 and
roundtrip tickets to Chile and Brazil.

This video taken by Raymond Ordonez, one of the 30 finalists in the contest, shows Solis
receiving the award.

According to posts on the "Narinig ko sa UP" (Overheard at UP) Facebook page, Solis had
plagiarized at least 5 times since 2011.

Hours after the news broke out, Solis issued a letter of apology to Smith saying he was driven by
his “youth, lack of experience, and the inability to see the repercussions of (his) actions."

READ: UP student apologizes for plagiarism

Solis said he would surrender everything he won from the competition. –

Carabuena: From bully to
cyberbullying victim
By Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at Aug 23 2012 01:58 PM | Updated as of Aug 24 2012 01:09 AM


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MANILA, Philippines -- Robert Blair Carabuena, who admitted his wrongs and issued an apology on
Thursday, has been the subject of online attacks since a video of him allegedly abusing a traffic
enforcer was broadcast and went viral on the web.

Carabuena had been caught on camera berating and slapping Metropolitan Manila Development
Authority (MMDA) aide Fabros on August 11 after he was pulled over for a traffic violation.

“Pending investigation,” Philip Morris Tobacco Corp. suspended Carabuena, one of its employees,
following petitions from various sectors urging the company to fire him.

In a statement, the company said while Carabuena was “not on duty for the company at the time” the
incident occurred, “it does no not condone inappropriate conduct by any of our employees.”

The MMDA also said that the direct assault case it has filed against the Philip Morris executive will
push through despite his apology, and a preliminary hearing at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s office
was scheduled for Thursday.

However, according to initial reports from the MMDA, Carabuena was rushed to the hospital after
feeling discomfort because of hurtful comments he received from several people at the fiscal’s office.

Carabuena has not been immune from online “retaliation” either. From issuing taunts of “baboy”
(pig) to assertions that he should be killed, netizens have not been kind to Carabuena, leading some
to say that the bully is now being cyberbullied.

Flame bait
Incidents of cyberbullying by Filipinos online are not new, with people even intentionally creating
what can be termed as “flame bait” to draw the ire from netizens.

One incident was that of “Ahcee Flores”, an identity created by an Internet troll to comment on
Yahoo! Philippines. A parallel Flores account was also set up on social networking site Facebook.

Flores wished ill on the victims of an earthquake in Visayas, leading to the creation of pages on
the social networking site dedicated to sowing hate against her. Her posts also went viral online.

Even celebrities are not immune. Actress Francine Prieto also received flak for an offhand comment
about President Benigno Aquino III being “panot.”

“I deleted my first Twitter account dahil nilabas ko ang saloobin ko sa dami kong problema…ngayon
naman sobra na ang mga bastos, mahaba ang pasensya ko 'wag mo lang akong babastusin dahil kaya
ko rin maging bastos,” she said to her online haters on Twitter.

As of posting, there are over 40 pages on Facebook dedicated to Carabuena, with names such as
“Patayin si Robert Blair Carabuena,” “Like if you want Robert Blair Carabuena to be fired from
Philip Morris”, “Ikaw na nga may pinagaralan ikaw pa walang modo, f*** you Robert Carabuena”
and “Ilechon si Robert Blair Carabuena,” among others.

“Ipakulong si Robert Blair Carabuena” is currently the top page with 23,216 likes.

There is also now a parody Twitter account for Carabuena -- @RBlairCarabuena. It has only eight
followers and 97 tweets as of posting.

Carabuena acknowledged his haters in his apology.

“Nitong nakaraang Linggo, naramdaman ko po ang galit ng publiko sa aking inasal. Simula nang
lumabas ang ‘video’ sa media at sa ‘social media,’ minabuti ko pong manatili muna sa aming
tahanan,” he said.

Carabuena has since reportedly shut down his social media accounts.

Just desserts?

In a blog entry by Jess Lorenzo on ABS-CBNnews.com, he said that while Carabuena has been the
recipient of a “deluge of harassment online…the image that Carabuena put himself in is his own

“I can only surmise that any cyber harassment is provoked by the bullying that Carabuena dished out
to Officer Saturnino Fabros; heightened by their social circumstances,” Lorenzo wrote.

“I believe Carabuena is a typical person who dwells in ENTITLEMENT. This is one of the illnesses
of our culture. It is seen in many of our behaviors and leaders. It even exists in persons who may
hate the likes of Blair but may also manifest similar symptoms. They are double standard people who
are quick to seek justice but are poor in following the law.”

However, in an interview in 2011, Philippine Human Rights Information Center executive director
Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan said that while everyone has a right to the Internet and information, as
well as to free speech, netizens also have the responsibility to respect the space and rights of others.

“There are limits,” she said. “Fundamental rights should not be taken as a license to attack the rights
or positions of other individuals. Nagiging bastusan na.”
Telcos help SMEs boost their


SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) give invaluable contributions to the growth of
the Philippine economy. They stimulate domestic demand through innovation, job creation
and competition, making them a driving force behind a resilient national economy and a
stable society.

Technology plays a big role in sustaining this growth.

Major telecommunication operators such as the Philippine Long Distance and Telephone
Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom Inc. are constantly creating innovations and new services
to help SMEs boost their business operations.

“To gain a competitive edge, SMEs need to invest in technology,” said Kat Luna-Abelarde,
first vice president and head of PLDT SME Nation.

The telecommunications giant, through its enterprise arm, PLDT SME Nation, has upgraded
its current line of PLDT myDSL Biz packages, loaded with latest tech gadgets and cloud
solutions. These are powered by faster connectivity speeds for the use of SMEs.

“We are offering superior business solutions to help entrepreneurs bring their business
online, streamline their operations, enabling them to connect better and faster to their
suppliers and their global counterparts,” Abelarde said.

The company said the new myDSL Biz now offers faster connection speeds ranging from 4
megabytes (Mbps) per second to 15 Mbps, with guaranteed minimum speeds of up to 1.6
Mbps, static Internet Protocol addresses, a Biz Box modem that enables wifi connectivity for
multiple users and a Sun third generation dongle for backup connectivity. A dongle is a
portable device that enables a user to connect to the Internet at anytime and at any place. It
functions as a modem but is connected to devices via USB.

“Our partnership with Samsung ensures that SMEs can now enjoy cutting-edge technology
devices, elevating their business experience to a whole new level. Samsung is the ideal
partner in providing seamless, fully customized business packages, all tailor-fit for SMEs,”
Abelarde said.
PLDT said that business owners can now choose from the new myDSL Biz plans: PLDT
myDSL Biz Pro,Boost; Elite; Max; Max Plus; and Max Turbo.

“Our mission and vision is really to provide domestic and global reach for every
entrepreneur out there. And we hope we can do this and we address the aspirations of
SMEs and their goals and needs, we do these through a pervasive education campaign we
do everyday,” said Christian Lim, category head for data solutions of PLDT SME Nation.

Through its SME business unit, PLDT SME Nation is helping small businesses modernize
their operations and enhance their competitiveness through fixed and mobile connectivity
and ICT solutions.

PLDT currently serves over 60,000 SME businesses across the country.

“Time and again we have seen the Filipino shine in the global arena—whether in fashion,
film, creative design and sports. The country is definitely full of world-class talent and
promising potential. However, we see that the challenge now is that SMEs do not have the
tools that would allow them to expand their businesses globally,” Abelarde said.

Boost competitiveness
PLDT offers services that help SMEs to boost their competitiveness through the following

ACCESS Solutions – Enable business with a robust and high-speed connectivity through:
Business landlines, managed PABX solutions (VOX), business-grade Internet (myDSLBiz),
dedicated Internet access (iGate), and private networking solutions (IPVPN), and wireless
voice and broadband solutions from SMART and Sun Cellular.

OPTIMIZATION Solutions – Expand business and market reach through: hardware (smart
devices, notebook PCs), collaboration tools like Office 365 or Google Apps for Business,
create your own web presence, and improve web security.

EFFICIENCY Solutions – Empowers business with higher efficiency and lower cost through
general business applications like Video Monitoring, HR & Payroll, Accounting, Customer
Relationship Management (CRM) and group messaging (Netcast/MessageCast).

PROFITABILITY Solutions – Equips business with the competitive edge through industry-
specific applications like Point of Sale (POS), Asset Tracking, Bus eReservation, Inventory
Management, Franchise Management, Electronic Medical Records, and SAP B1.

Overwhelming OTT: Telcos’ growth

strategy in a digital world
By Jürgen Meffert and Niko Mohr
Overwhelming OTT: Telcos’ growth strategy in a digital world

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Incumbents are now asking if digital is a threat to or an opportunity for their business
model. Beyond operational efficiency, they will need to focus on excellence in execution.

As digital proliferates the telecommunications industry, incumbent telcos find

themselves in the middle of a paradox. First, “thinking digital” is deeply
embedded in their business models. They are, after all, not only providers of their
own digital products and services but also enablers for other sectors, by providing
the essential connectivity infrastructure for functioning and growing in the digital
economy, which results in a growing demand for broadband access. Also, it is
forecast that the number of digital customers will skyrocket globally, and
intensity, with respect to time spent using digital platforms as a means of
communicating, will increase over the next few years. At the same time, consumer
behavior regarding traditional communication services is changing, and the total
consumer spend on these services is expected to decline even while overall
communications activity grows. Finally, as technological breakthroughs
accelerate, more and more new digital natives are entering the core telco market
with innovative business models and technologies, leaving many incumbents to
wonder if they can keep up or if they will be displaced.
Stay current on your favorite topics

The growing force (and changing face) of digital

There are two-and-a-half billion digital customers globally who are under 25
years of age. What characterizes this group is the fact that they are “always on”
and that they show a different usage behavior compared to that of the traditional
“analog” consumer. On average, these young digital users spend 315 minutes
online each day (versus 126 minutes for customers over 25 years). More than two-
thirds of this group is on YouTube daily, and 41 percent of 18- to 32-year-olds in
the United States use video-messaging-service Snapchat for 25 to 30 minutes per

More than just an enabler of entertainment and social communication, digital is

an instrument that helps this youth and young-adult demographic “take care of
business,” with 45 percent using social media as their primary platform for
customer service. In addition to digital’s popularity as a preferred way of handling
business, there is the trend of “mobile only” Internet access. For example, over
half of all active Facebook users access their accounts solely through their
smartphones. Together, these trends—digital business and mobile access—
contribute to the projection that by 2019, more than two billion users will make
payments via mobile devices. Overall, this will result in an increase in the absolute
number of digital customers as well as in a massive increase in the amount of time
that consumers spend when using communication and broadband services
globally. According to Ovum, communication intensity in regard tof time spent
will grow by 63 percent over the next ten years.
Would you like to learn more about our Telecommunications Practice?

Visit our Strategy page

Cannibalizing voice and messaging—offering more for less

As the overall digital market grows—an additional billion middle-tier customers

for telcos, mainly in emerging markets, is expected by 2025—the door for new
over-the-top (OTT) entrants is opening. These digital natives are offering the
same staple services of voice, messaging, and video calls that used to be the
domain of traditional telcos. In particular, OTT players such as Apple’s FaceTime,
Google Hangouts, Skype, Tencent QQ or Tencent’s WeChat, and WhatsApp
threaten to cannibalize these staple offerings with innovative, easy-to-use, and
even more-attractive messaging and communication services.

Just a few years ago, messaging, fixed voice, and mobile voice services from OTT
players accounted for 9, 11, and 2 percent of relevant revenue, respectively.
Several scenarios run by McKinsey & Company reveal the possibility of a jump in
share for each of these services. In the most aggressive scenario, the share of
messaging, fixed voice, and mobile voice provided by OTT players could be at 60,
50, and 25 percent, respectively, by 2018 in an all-IP environment (Exhibit 1). As
those service offerings are being built on innovative business models, they will be
available to users at a much lower price than traditional telcos are able to offer.
According to Ovum, this will likely result in a drop in spending on traditional
communication services by 36 percent over the next ten years, further pushing
incumbent telcos to the margins of voice and data provision.
Exhibit 1

Increasing demand for communication infrastructure—broadband-access hype

“Thinking digital” is deeply embedded in telcos’ business models. They not only
provide their own digital products and services but also the essential connectivity
infrastructure that allows other sectors to function and grow in the digital

The digitization trend is currently challenging every sector in industry and society.
In almost all cases it is having dramatic, if not disruptive, effects on existing
traditional industry dynamics and business models. Hence, all companies and
institutions will have to think about how to deal with this digital revolution and
what their role in the newly arising digital ecosystems might be. Digital is all
about data, but its full value can only be delivered when adequate IT and
technology form the infrastructure that seamlessly connects that data and enables
its exchange—anytime and anywhere. This growing demand for connectivity will
require companies to have broadband access and a gigabyte or high-speed
infrastructure, which would result in a rise in spending for ubiquitous broadband

As we also strongly believe in the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry
4.0 as major drivers of this digital revolution, we can expect to experience an
increasing demand in machine-to-machine and cloud services. McKinsey
estimates that IoT’s potential economic impact on factories will rise to as much as
$3.7 trillion a year by 2025, mainly from productivity improvements, including as
much as 20 percent in energy savings and 25 percent in potential labor-efficiency
improvement. To deliver this value, IoT envisions a world of connected devices
that goes beyond mobile phones and smart watches. Everyday objects would be
linked, that is, they would be able to send and receive data to and from one other.
This level of connectivity would require additional, related IT and infrastructure
services, which would further drive telco revenues.

Value chain takeover—new technologies and increasing competition

Market forecasts are predicting increasing margin pressure but no sea change
with respect to fundamentally questioning the relevance of telcos in the future.
There is, however, something going on in the traditional telco value chain and
competitive landscape that is jeopardizing the existing telco business model. Not
only are we experiencing increasing competition among traditional companies—
telcos, cable providers, and mobile virtual network operators—new OTT entrants
are also cannibalizing services, and Internet and other tech giants are moving
onto the traditional telco and media terrain as well. Amazon, Apple, Baidu,
Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Tencent, as well as pure tech companies such as
Cisco, Huawei, IBM, and ZTE, are all growing their presence across the
traditional telecom’s value chain with innovative technologies—from network and
service through devices and operating systems to applications and media. And, to
make things even more challenging, many large and medium-size companies—
telcos’ traditional customers—are starting to build their own infrastructures.

OTT players are offering core telco services such as voice or messaging, and the
media space is becoming their domain. Tech and Internet companies are also
increasingly active in growth areas, such as cloud space and services, competing
with telcos for clients and revenue. They are tying customers to their own
ecosystems, while making reliance on traditional operators a thing of the past.
With carrier-neutral connectivity (for example, e-SIM), many tech and Internet
companies are enabling seamless changes between operators and eliminating the
hassle of changing telecom providers. Hence, digital players are systematically
attacking existing telco profit pools and will continue to do so—eating up telcos’
revenues and margins. This makes differentiation purely on B2C products for
traditional telcos a highly questionable proposition in the future.

In addition to these revenue-eroding trends, regulatory developments—especially

in Europe—have cut down roaming revenues dramatically. All told, the
opportunities that newcomers, tech, and Internet players are capitalizing on may
slow growth for traditional telcos, costing them upward of $300 billion.
Worldwide, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for traditional telcos is
estimated at only 0.7 percent through 2020. For many telcos, largely in developed
markets, the outlook is especially disappointing with projected negative growth.
Telcos in Western Europe and in Central and Eastern Europe are facing –1.5 and
–1.3 percent average growth, respectively, over the next four years, while those in
North America are expected to barely tread water with growth at only about 0.3

Additionally, these new entrants—with their global reach and a focus more on
software and service than on hardware and infrastructure—also enjoy
significantly higher stock valuations than do incumbent telcos. This is because
their growth potential is seen as much higher than that of those traditional
incumbents continuing to operate under their existing business models.
Implications and opportunities for telcos

For traditional telcos, this disruption, enabled by digitization, is anything but

ordinary. Developments in digital technology threaten their current investments
and put their cost baseline under significant pressure. New competitors are
entering the core space of telcos, which will reshape the existing company
landscape. In addition, telcos will continue to be forced to make major
investments in future network technology. But the cost of just doing this alone is
expected to result in a drop in revenue in the order of 15 to 30 percent.
Nevertheless, the growing importance and demand for connectivity and
broadband access will ensure that there will be some growth opportunities out
there, too.

To remain relevant in an increasingly digital space, incumbent telcos are advised

to consider two strategic moves and, if appropriate, take immediate action: 1)
make the core business “super slim,” cost efficient, and more agile and 2) identify
new growth areas in the space that combines the great potential of digitization
and telcos’ existing core competencies.

The super-slim telco—a no-regrets move

Given the mounting pressure that telcos are experiencing—particularly in Europe,

where CAGR was –1.8 percent between 2014 and 2016—seeking greater
efficiencies in core areas and establishing a super-slim telco are no-regrets moves.
But to get there, telcos will need to rethink their operating models.

Transforming business models to optimize efficiency hinges on the

implementation of digital in B2B, commercial, and B2C and spans all processes
from marketing and sales through network all the way to customer support.
Especially areas that are driving the highest costs, such as the network
technologies, need to be reworked and moved into an IT-centric and more
software-driven environment. Such a move should reduce related baseline costs
by 30 to 70 percent, improve time to market and agility, and enable flexibility and
self-provisioning capabilities—but usually takes some time. Also, telcos can learn
from other leading pure digital players and pursue developments to, for example,
completely digitize their customer front ends (including service), develop and
deliver products that are completely software generated (no in-home hardware),
and fully automate processes, such as billing and service coordination. In this
area, some telcos are already making progress. But the real benchmarks can be
found within the crowd of pure digital players, who have learned to rethink their
processes completely, making them digital, extremely agile, and cost efficient.

Business opportunity in B2B

While the odds may be stacked against telcos in reclaiming the pole position in
the B2C space, the good news is that telcos can capture new business
opportunities in B2B, as this space is just beginning to develop. Here, specifically,
telcos can leverage their infrastructure advantage—combining this with state-of-
the-art digital technology—and position themselves as the backbone of fast-
growing digital ecosystems, especially around IoT, security, and Industry 4.0.
This position spans the categories of network, product, and services and offers
telcos the possibility of taking leading (sometimes exclusive) roles in, for example,
intelligent networks, solutions in information and communications technology
(ICT), cloud services, analytics, IoT platforms and security solutions, billing, and
customer relationship management. Evidence of this as a potentially attractive
space can be seen in the growing adjacencies-related announcements of operators
in IT and technology in their quest to meet the customer’s appetite for ICT
solutions and IoT. Unfortunately, experience shows that telcos have historically
only found success in transversal products (for example, security, IoT, and cloud
services for regional small and medium-size segments). In all other areas, telcos
have developed great ideas but have failed to successfully execute them.

One example of the connectivity and value-added solutions that telcos might
explore could be playing a dominant role in smart-city infrastructure. The existing
infrastructure needs to be transformed into a smart infrastructure (for example,
converting traditional passive pipes into self-regulating active and smart pipes or
changing streetlights into intelligent streetlights). Additionally, the whole smart-
city infrastructure needs a level of connectivity on the order of a gigabyte as well
as the capacity to provide additional services, such as billing or analytics.

A second example of telcos’ infrastructure opportunity is the role they might play
as the platform for Industry 4.0 or IoT. In this case, a network operator would
serve as the backbone or platform of the complex data flow that links machine
sensors to back-end services, such as analytics or cybersecurity, and
transportation supply-chain infrastructure to navigation, factory floors, social
media, and logistics apps. This could be highly attractive because machine-to-
machine revenues are projected to grow by double digits over the next few years.
Other examples for telcos include the provision of healthcare infrastructure,
platforms for smart mobility, or enabling B2B2C consumer-retailer networks.

How telecom companies can win in the digital revolution

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While increasing digitization presents B2B opportunities for traditional telcos,

leaders should be aware that the competition in this infrastructure and value-
added space will be intense. Players from across telecom and other sectors will
pursue these revenue opportunities; however, only a select few will capture the
value and move further into the enterprise space.

Competing with digital natives in B2C in the areas of voice, video, and messaging
might be an uphill battle, yet even here some options do exist for telcos in B2C.
Combining their core competencies with opportunities in digital technologies,
telcos might consider options for offering connected platforms for smart homes,
self-marketing, digital entertainment and secure-cloud and data services for
individual consumers.

The digital B2B market for traditional telcos is in its early stages, but it is fast-
growing and expanding. Large OTT players, however, are not sleeping—they have
already started to look beyond the pure B2C space into B2B, and they are trying to
conquer it as well (Exhibit 2). For example, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft—the
largest cloud-services players by far in the Americas and Europe—are making
B2B inroads. Of these, Amazon is already positioning a B2B sales platform.
Alibaba, Huawei, and others are following suit out of Asia, as traditional telcos are
currently asking for their inexpensive services. And while some tech and Internet
companies have already started to discover this B2B space, telcos have yet to
enter this arena. Most telcos know about the B2B opportunity, including its
inherent challenges, but are having a hard time operationalizing it. So, the time
for telcos to act and fix their execution problem is now. Without swift action, they
will almost certainly fall behind once again, because OTT and tech players will do
everything in their power to dominate the B2B space.
Exhibit 2

The telecom industry is on course to becoming unrecognizable within ten years’

time in a “do nothing” scenario. The global market for potential customers is still
growing, but the forecast for traditional telcos is for low revenue growth and
shrinking margins, because of increasing competition from OTT and technology
players. Despite the inevitable change, opportunities exist for those that are
willing to accept the challenge and initiate change. To survive in an environment
where digital dominates, telcos must create a super slim and efficient core
business. To thrive, they will need to strategically define and aggressively pursue
growth areas. Many have come up with innovative digital ideas, but ideas will not
be enough. Telcos have already ceded much of the value in B2C to OTT and tech
companies. Without a demonstrated commitment to excellence in execution, they
risk losing out on the B2B opportunity to these same players as well.