Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has been chosen as a Leading Lights finalist for its Pan-Net project, which must represent one of the most ambitious network projects ever undertaken by a European incumbent.
Covered extensively by Light Reading in the past, the pan-European network initiative has been described by Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom's Europe and technology boss, as a means of replacing the systems and networks dedicated to particular central and eastern European countries with a modern, virtualized infrastructure that can handle demands across the entire region.
In other words, instead of maintaining 13 platforms to provide a particular service in 13 countries, Deutsche Telekom will provide that service across all of those territories from a single platform. In total, the operator expects to reduce the number of service platforms in use from 650 to just 50 as a result of this transformation.
Clearly, this process is expected to lead to major cost savings and efficiency gains in the future, but Nemat has said the more important reason for transforming the network is to benefit from greater "service agility." In short, with one state-of-the-art production facility catering to numerous geographical markets, Deutsche Telekom should be able to develop and launch new services in a fraction of the time previously possible. Keep an eye out for some exciting developments in this area in the next few months.
Australia's Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) has been active at home and internationally over the past year and becomes a finalist thanks to the development of Pacnet , the Asian carrier it bought for $700 million in April last year, and the operator's ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience.
While Pacnet had previously developed a network-as-a-service (NaaS) capability, Telstra has launched new SDN-based features allowing customers to order virtual network functions and connect their network circuits to other organizations on demand. Telstra also appears to have done a good job of integrating Pacnet's team and technologies with its existing business while avoiding too much disruption.
A focus on customer service and experience remains paramount in this area and others. The operator has been trying to develop customer advocates by making use of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) customer loyalty metric. It claims to have seen a five-point improvement last year, following an increase of three points in 2014.
Time Warner Cable
Recently acquired by Charter Communications Inc. in a $56 billion deal, cable giant Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) makes it through to the final round of judging for two strategic initiatives on transformation -- an external one it calls "TWC hears customers loud and clear and is stronger than ever" and a related internal one called "Winning on service."
Both are aimed largely at addressing customer pain points including equipment problems, unreliable services and customer service issues. The challenge is to overcome the negative perceptions of cable among consumers, with TWC acknowledging that the fast-consolidating cable sector has a worse reputation than most other industries.
Accordingly, TWC has been investing billions to make improvements to customer services and product offerings. This has included boosting Internet speeds, reducing outages and launching new digital services, and those activities appear to have paid dividends: TWC claimed that 2015 was its best-ever year in terms of residential customer growth, adding 600,000 residential subscribers and reporting positive video net additions for the first time in nine years. That's called bowing out in style.
WOW (Wide Open West)
Cable TV provider WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) is looking to New IP technologies like SDN and NFV to make service improvements and reduce operational costs. The introduction of a virtualized service delivery platform, it is hoped, will allow the operator to provide more on-demand offerings to customers and, in its own words, move the operational model from a "truck rolls to mouse rolls" approach.
WOW has already indicated that Phase 1 of its project will focus on delivering a portfolio of managed security products to customers. A soft launch in two markets is underway this month and WOW is now at work on sales and marketing strategies for a wider deployment in September.
The company is clearly eager to be "first to market" with services based on these technologies and seems aware of the challenges it will face both externally and within the organization, including the need for a "DevOps mindset." Its pioneering approach earns it a place at the finalists' table.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading