At GCCM London, one of the largest telecom conferences in the world, our CEO Musa Rad made an interview for GCCM Magazine that shed light on the future of the industry from every scope.
We hope you enjoy reading the GCCM C-Level Interview that includes the striking findings of the telecom sector and Sigma Telecom.
GCCM C-Level Interview
-Could you present your company in few sentences? Are you focused on the consumer market, in the enterprise market or in both of them?
-Sigma Telecom was founded in 2003 to provide high-quality telecommunication infrastructure services including; optimization, planning and drive testing. In 2014 Sigma made the transition to begin providing high-quality VOIP services to telecommunication operators, suppliers and vendors worldwide and also entered the SMS business as well. Today, Sigma Telecom is also an active fixed-line operator in Turkey. Additionally, we have several value-added services as well. Sigma has emerged as a trusted partner for operators and mobile service providers in over 100 countries and provides advanced services and custom solutions enabling the highest quality of communication while also creating new platforms for ourselves and our clients to grow and improve. Guided by our business model and strategies, we are focused primarily on the enterprise market. Our partners are the biggest communication services, equipment providers, governmental agencies and industry associations including China Telecom, Life, BICS, ZTE, TATA, Huawei, Telecom Italia, Orange, KazTranscom, Deutsche Telekom, Ibasis, Motorola, Turkcell, Turk Telekom and many others. In 2018, we achieved recognition on the list of International Telecommunications Union sector members along with other major operators of the world. Sigma Telecom also extended its scale and started to produce many mobile apps and software solutions. With the know-how and expertise gained in the telecom sector, we also created Cell Info, which is a B2B enterprise solution aiming to change the way things are done in the sector.
-What makes you different from the other competitors?
-First of all, having the right people in place is critical, understanding this we intentionally built our team with passionate, creative and dynamic experts. One of the most fundamental elements of our work is accessibility and agility because the needs in this sector can change rapidly. The faster and more accurate decisions you’re able to make in response to a problem or a need, the higher the quality of the service you provide to your customers. For this reason, we are and always have been very close to all of our partners. Every moment, every second, we stand behind what we do. In order to achieve this, we have the right people in place able to create and implement solutions.
In addition, Sigma Group is a company with vision and reach. We provide a wide range of services from software to digital marketing, application development to investment expertise. We’re able to offer our customers a diversity of services, which elevates us from our competitors and makes us unrivaled. We have the capacity to meet and exceed our customers’ needs.
-How far along is your company with digital transformation? What is your take on IoT?
-In the current era, it’s very crucial for companies like Sigma, especially in the telecom business, to be one step ahead of the rest. Digital exists in the core of what we do and we are optimizing all of our business strategies according to it from the very beginning. It helps us to improve our operations, culture, organizational structure and customer experiences in the most effective way. IoT brings extraordinary benefits for many sectors and telecommunication is no exception, we are actively observing the evolution of IoT and what it’s impact will be on telecom, including the rise of 5G.
-How do you view the demand environment for the industry, Europe-wide and globally? Would you anticipate different leasing trends for the regional/global players that operate in the region?
-In the last year the industry saw the emergence of many new companies which shows that the demand is there. But the big players don’t know most of these companies and -the reality- is, don't want to know them either. Credibility and reputation are critical and if you are not a known company, no one will consider working with you. Most of the major players won’t be interested in working with an unknown entity, even if you want to prepay to someone without any expected margin in the future. Most of the major companies still feel more comfortable working with known partners with whom they share a history.
Contrasting Europe with the rest of the globe, it’s easier to start a business in Africa or the ME rather than starting in Europe due to rates that the operators are charging when they are terminating the calls. If you’re looking to start a new business it’s easier to focus on those emerging markets.
One approach by new companies is to submit proposals that provide no margin to them but will give them access to the big leagues through prepayment or giving a market-breaking rate. It’s also a fact that the VoIP market is getting smaller but our business is only getting bigger. As Sigma Group, we are working on new solutions and areas such as software and investment.
-Thinking about challenges and opportunities, how do you grab new customers? Because once a company has been investing money for sustainability purposes, with which partner will you finalize the test phase?
-No one is born a star. Success comes from hard work and learning from what others have achieved before you. When we started in the VoIP business, we were not a star but we took the initiative to earn new customers and immerse ourselves in the ocean without getting eaten by the big fishes. There are different pathways to success and it might be a direct route that you got from an operator by selling below MTR or perhaps retail traffic comes from an operator continuously. Of course, we did stumble along the way but learned from our mistakes and continued towards our goal. Our team was young and talented and committed to checking our future partners and their stories one by one. Things worked out very well and we got more than 150 connections with operators from Africa, CIS and LATAM.
On the other hand, our biggest challenge was OTTs. They remain a big challenge for operators because they are losing money because of them. It’s also a strong possibility that due to security and financial reasons, operators would consider deactivating OTT’s voice call functions. This decision would change the whole balance and predictions in the sector.
-Tell me about drivers in the markets you operate in: how do you see these business environments? What are the drivers in those markets?
The main power belongs to operators and MVNOs for sure, they are able to send a large volume of traffic to many destinations and you can use their direct routes to gain customer traffic and balance your main customer. In addition, new customers who follow the true way and promote the routes to the market below MTR are the real drivers in the market for VoIP.
Additionally, the wholesale carriers who stick to their business plans and keep their promises are the leaders of the market. To be a trustworthy partner and foster credibility, it’s also important to be present at conferences and events to meet up with clients and introduce yourself in the best way possible. As Sigma Telecom, we attend almost all of the major telecom and VoIP conferences around the globe and we see these events as one of our main and most important sales & marketing channels.
-Last point: What have been the latest developments and what’s new?
-The cake is getting smaller and OTTs are getting a bigger slice of this cake now. The data they’re getting over these calls are also a source for them to use for marketing so it’s a win-win situation for them now. Competition is fierce and operators are losing money and blood. Operators’ earnings from OTT voice calls are less than the earnings from international calls and this is concerning. Also, most of the OTT calls or chat logs are not accessible and they are a huge security concern for countries as well.
For these reasons, countries and operators are strongly considering terminating the voice call functions of the OTTs or creating different internet data package models for them so their margin could stay higher than the international calls. If these scenarios come to fruition, we will see the rise of VoIP.
-What is your outlook for the coming year?
-2020 is a very critical year. With all the new improvements and technologies, including 5G, we either see VoIP fall or operators will try to recover their losses through international calls, again.
-How relevant is SMS fraud in the wholesale industry? Is it peripheral or a mass phenomenon?
-A2Ps are trying to create different solutions for preventing SMS fraud but these initiatives take time and are still in the development phase. But fraud has always existed and it’s not possible to prevent it 100%. A2Ps could try to block SMS fraud using OTTs but operators aren’t very focused on this issue because they’re not earning that much from SMS and it’s not their main channel anymore. There’s a big chance that they will leave the market to OTTs but again this won’t happen very quickly, it will take a while. As Sigma, we are prepared to enter the SMS market and we have started our planning.
-What are your current concerns around cybersecurity and what is your plan going forward?
-With strong infrastructure and firewall software, we are not experiencing any big problems regarding cybersecurity. Although cybersecurity is a large problem and worldwide threat the solutions are easy to access and we don’t consider this as a serious problem for our company.
-Could you provide me with a definition of fraud? How can we restrict it, and where we can restrict it?
-Fraud in the VoIP sector is not only the provider’s fault. Customers expect really low rates and prices which opens them to the risk of fraud. Preventing this is in the hands of customers, more than providers. Buying routes at reasonable prices and then monitoring them closely will reduce fraud and either way if providers get a reasonable price, they won't risk their earnings with fraud.
-Why do you think that the well-known and old-fashioned fraud scenarios are still successful?
-Fraud has always been there and it’s impossible to eradicate it from the industry entirely. One of our biggest successes was to discover and disclose a large fraud by one of the biggest operators. In reference to that, we can say that we are pretty diligent about fraud detection and monitoring. There are so many new tools for fraud detection and the old type of fraud are mostly caught by those but there are always new techniques for committing fraud. As Sigma, we are doing our best in order to prevent fraud and provide superior customer service to our customers and partners.
-Thank you for reading GCCM C-Level Interview and now you ask what's next for Sigma Telecom?
-It's great to be in GCCM C-Level Interview. So after reading GCCM C-Level Interview, you can reach us at many events! In March our journey will continue with Capacity Dubai 2020 and GCCM Singapore. You can read our first quarter schedule of 2020 by clicking here and get in contact with us to arrange a meeting to boost your business with the unlimited, exclusive service quality of Sigma!