Will Open Communications Reshape the UK Telecoms Market?

The Open Communications initiative has the potential to dramatically change the way CSPs work with consumers

Could Open Communications revolutionise our relationships with our Communications and Pay TV providers (CSPs)? The data portability initiative has the vision of people sharing data with third parties about their use of telecoms services, that results in value for all.

Might our mindset collectively begin to move away from long-term service contracts to short-term agreements that adapt automatically based on behaviour, usage patterns, location and a range of other factors?

Instead of the general months-and-years contracts our CSPs condition us to commit to, could Open Comms facilitate a shift whereby we can automatically switch provider every few weeks and days, if other providers have more compelling propositions, better service quality or stronger coverage? 

We are already moving away from the device subsidy model to one that decouples devices from service plans, so is it a natural extension that puts consumers in control? 

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom are constantly pushing for the market to provide a competitive choice and Open Comms, alongside technology such as eSIM, could be a gateway to this. There is both opportunity and threat for CSPs, depending on their agility.

Imagine a world in which Open Banking combines with Open Comms, in parallel with our progression toward realising the high-tech IoT lifestyle. Integration of our financial life, online payments, mobile usage, smart devices and media consumption would enable extremely powerful predictive marketing and service personalisation. However, this opportunity can only be realised with the highest levels of consumer trust, plus operational readiness of CSPs to transform real time AI streaming data insights into prescriptive actions that are connected by a decision management platform.

It’s early days as Ofcom and other parties such as the Open Data Institute research and consult on the possibilities of Open Comms. Looking to Open Banking as a pioneer, and based on the UK Government’s ‘Smart Data’ initiative, Open Comms would enable consumers and small businesses to ask their CSP to share information about their contracted services, easily and securely, with third parties of their choice and benefit from doing so. Whilst Open Banking has largely been a data aggregation task to date, there are a number of apps and services starting to emerge that will harness the power of all of that data to help consumers with their financial health.

In a similar way, it’s likely that the early use cases within Open Comms will be foundational, such as fuelling price comparison websites or aggregation of services so they can all be viewed in one app. Given the inability of many CSPs to consolidate their own customer relationships into a single customer view, plus the disaggregation of consumers’ multiple service providers, it’s likely that third parties are better equipped to make sense of disparate data and do something meaningful with it.

Rather than products and services being at the centre, Open Comms has the potential to flip this around so that the customer really does become the focal point. Enabling consumers to use their data to make informed decisions about the best products and services with the help of trusted third parties will push CSPs to innovate and deliver services tailored to individual needs.

So, whilst the questions posed at the start of this post may be conceptual, they are valid. It’s doubtful, however, that CSPs will proactively push an agenda that could see their customers become much more fluid in their relationships with their providers, and possibly tip the ‘brand power’ further toward the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). 

Crucially, for the CSPs that are invested in really putting customers at the centre, this could be a defining time. Harnessing rich data and applying advanced analytics will allow them to:

  • build propositions that keep customers satisfied and loyal
  • plan and deliver connectivity networks that ensure customers are ‘always on’
  • ensure service interactions are quick, efficient and find a resolution  

The rollout of Open Comms, based on advanced analytics and real-time decision platform execution, will result in both CSPs, third parties and new market entrants innovating to provide better customer outcomes. It will certainly be challenging but those up to it will have the chance to take loyalty to the next level.

Further Reading:

Open Communications Research Findings from PWC

Ofcom Open Communications Survey Results

Open Data Institute Report on Open Communications

Open Communications Scenarios

Ofcom Report on Open Communications

“Goodbye Aggregation Platform, Hello Open Data Enabled Applications” – LinkedIN article by OpenWrks CEO Olly Betts

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