Andrew Kvalseth, head of strategy at Telenor Digital Services, speaks exclusively to European Communications about how telcos can succeed in the content space.
TDS has around 30 content partnerships in place currently, according to Kvalseth.
“We are open to partnering – telcos shouldn’t control every piece of the value chain. It’s all about how we can add value so that customers get a better experience to the one they could get if they just went with either us or a content provider,” he explains.
To this end, TDS has a number of criteria against which it chooses partners.
Kvalseth picks out two: those who deliver services that their existing customers will value and those who act in a fully collaborative way.
One such partnership is with Google, with whom TDS is working to launch direct operator billing with GooglePlay – the internet giant’s cloud-based digital entertainment platform – in different markets.
Last October, the operator revealed the first stage of a global agreement signed in 2011 that sees Telenor customers in Sweden who have an Android device being able to pay for apps and games purchased on GooglePlay via their mobile bill.
Kvalseth says the two companies have a “good dialogue” and are actively looking to find more opportunities to work together.
This should give heart to other operators, but Kvalseth believes there are two very important things that need to happen for telcos to make be successful.
First, operators need to be very clear about how they should view content.
“Historically telcos just wanted to pass content on to the end user but that doesn’t work. You need to add value to content and to the product experience.
“At TDS we exist to create a best-in-class service for our customers that improves their digital experience.”
Here, he cites the work they are doing on Comoyo, Telenor's TV and video service that is being rolled out across the Nordics.
“One of the problems with the online TV and movie business is that customers don’t know what movies certain services have – searching is difficult – so we are trying to combine the best of Netflix, iTunes and other services.”
Second, operators need to create the right culture in which content can thrive internally and give out the right message to potential partners, staff members and end users.
“Content providers view telcos as being challenging to deal with – concerns regarding the way telcos have traditionally treated content is warranted,” says Kvalseth.
“Operators need to be much more diligent about which type of services they go into to give customers what they want and ensure a return on investment – the scattergun approach doesn’t work.”
This is an extract from a longer interview that will appear in the Q1 2013 issue of European Communications magazine. Click here to ensure you receive your copy.
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