Discussion Papers

Daniel Tewes

Chancen und Risiken netzunabhängiger Service Provider
Nr. 179 / Dezember 1997


In Europe the concept of marketing (mobile) telecommunications services by network independent service providers, i.e. telephone companies without network infrastructure that are buying bulk airtime and resell it on their own account and under their own brand, has been first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1985 followed by Germany in 1991. But, as evidence in both countries clearly demonstrates network independent service providers were not able to sustain their initial market success and consequently had to suffer severe market share losses.

For assessing the chances and risks of these companies the discussion paper brings out the relevant strategic parameters and estimates their potential. Doing this two different schemes of demand side decision behaviour are assumed. Presupposing a customer behaviour corresponding to the assumptions of the neoclassical theory of economics (esp. full information) product quality and cost efficient production structures in billing and sales turn out to be critical success factors. In the case, however, that the end user neither has full information about supply side characteristics nor his own concrete demand structure branding either of the network independent service provider itself or his sales partners becomes the most relevant strategic parameter.

The study is developed against the background of two different technical paradigms, the closed and the open network concept. In the domain of a closed network that is realized e.g. in the given state of cellular networks chances of network independent service providers are low. Due to missing access to network intelligence they are strongly restricted in regard to the development and introduction of customer relevant innovative services. In fact, they are reduced to the function of sole resellers.

It is expected that these restrictions will be overcome by applying an open intelligent network concept. Today, its full implementation is still to come, but already intensively discussed in industry. In the domain of these open network architectures network independent service providers expectedly will gain in market importance. Compared with the telecommunications markets of today there will prevail a more sophisticated division of labour between network operators, service providers and possibly other market players.

Only German language version available.

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