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Interview with Namit Garg, Director, Business Line Management-Redknee

July 2, 2013 Prepaid MVNO- What is Redknee currently doing in the MVNE Space, and tell us a bit about Redknee's platform?

Namit Garg, Redknee - One of the most exciting achievements for Redknee this year has been the launch of our billing & care cloud offering. Traditionally Redknee, has been targeting Tier I, II and III operators with the classic 'on premise solutions'. However, with recent advancement in cloud technology, many operators are starting to leverage its benefits into their business.

The key benefits of cloud for billing and customer care are the reduced time to market, a low CAPEX base to minimize business risks, and the ability to scale/grow quickly. Over the last couple of years, Redknee has focused on becoming one of the leading providers of our agile, flexible, on-premise solutions - the real time convergent billing, charging and care with a pre-integrated stack – and taking that to a full cloud solution.

How, or tell us a bit about Telco in a box, and the billing solution and do MVNOs take that as well?

Namit - When we started on this journey, our objective was to take our existing billing and customer care solution, and scale it down via virtualization, making it completely turnkey and fully out of the box. We have achieved all this and now branded it as Telco in a Box.

MVNO/E's or even a Tier II, or III, wireless operator can take an entire end-to-end solution and services package to launch their brand to market within weeks. Some of our competitors may also be marketing their products in this fashion, but I truly think that we still have great unique value propositions to offer our customers, such as an out of the box end-to-end solution, that provides real time, convergent billing, business analytics and multi-channel self-care apps.

Redknee has really gone beyond the classic 'charging, billing and care' solutions to add many new monetization tools, such as analytics. Redknee has pre-integrated subscriber 'retail analytics', and even 'wholesale analytics' which allows an organization to actually look at the profitability of their entire business. MVNOs buy wholesale minutes and data from their MNO, which they of course sell to their customers. As the wholesale minutes charges come in from the MNO (which is a cost to them), they are matched against the retail revenue (the income), Redknee allows operators to really see if their businesses are growing and most importantly, if they are profitable or not.

Another key use-case is the ability to see what the negative factors in their business are. Using our analytics will provide them with the intelligence to analyze downward trends, target new markets, and/or adjust their retail offering to achieve improved profitability.
In addition to the above, focus on customer care elements is fundamental to any business. Over the last few years, we have put a lot of emphasis on 'CRM' which can really drive down the costs, and the time to resolution for any issues arising from a customer care perspective.

We are trying to get more and more operators to become comfortable with the idea of self-care, whether this be through a web application, a smartphone, or tablet application or IVR. So really, we want to give subscribers the end-to-end capability to actually perform their own tasks, thereby further driving down costs for the operator.
Over the last few months, we have also been focusing on incorporating channel and distribution tools into our solution. In this competitive market, sales and distribution strategies can make or break an MVNO.

A MNO typically has a large distribution network, so an MVNO has to figure out a complementary, non-competing strategy and has to think about leveraging some of their own assets. As an example, retail MVNOs have an automatic advantage by utilizing their store network to provide multiple points of distribution.
So, the next question is, how do you actually acquire new customers at these points of distribution?

Most MVNOs usually come from a different business background and typically do not have sufficient experience in running a wireless operation. We actively work with our customers to develop strategies to acquire new customers in the shortest amount of time - providing them the right amount of services is 'key'.

Therefore Redknee has developed a very focused suite of dealer and channel applications, that include dealer portal care, commissioning, PoS, and tariff advisory.
These applications are also good for larger operators who sometime come to us and say, "When someone walks into the store, they want to buy our services, but the dealer is not able to help them effectively".

Perhaps this is because the dealers do not have the right set of tools at their disposal. In case of questions, dealers end up calling the operator’s client care center, resulting in doubling the costs for an operator (the cost runoff of running the store, plus the call center support costs).

With this in mind, we have made our channel tools really sophisticated, enabling dealers to execute many tasks efficiently, such as activation, changing an address or applying a payment, and even, to a certain extent, providing levels of authority to authorize credit arrangements. This is all available in the 'Telco in a Box'.

Last year, we took this model and placed it into the cloud. The reality is more and more MVNOs and smaller operators want some level of control, but also want to minimize their risk at all costs. Any cloud-based solution brings these inherent benefits. When we took our 'Telco-In-A-Box' solution and put it in the cloud, you get the same benefits, from a features and capabilities perspective. Now customers get additional benefits - not only significant savings on capital, but also a full suite of Software as a Services (SAAS) model. This also allows operators to execute their entire business with a small/skeleton team, with the majority of the billing tasks outsourced to Redknee.

Can you tell us a-bit about what Redknee clients are requesting, and what is your approach when dealing with clients.

One of the key customer issues is that they are struggling to react to changing market needs. We have seen that some of our competitors, who claim to offer variations of cloud services, are doing so but with inferior charging and billing solutions. This fundamentally starts to impede the ability of an MVNO/E or any customer to react to changing market needs, and ultimately affects the ability to be able to offer a product in a timely fashion. We have seen some competitors also build up huge services teams, to counter some of the product deficiencies but this then costs MVNO/Es time and money that they typically do not have in the environment they operate in.

In comparison, Redknee has built a model that primarily relies on the power of the software. Whilst the solution is built for Tier 1 operators, it can be scaled down to suit the needs of smaller operators, whilst retaining the same additional features of the Tier 1 solution. Small operators are now able to get a Tier 1 solution that is made to fit and care for their business needs.

Reactability is key.

The second key issue for operators is in the 'Initial Capital investment'. Operators not only want to minimize their capex, but also want to adopt a 'Pay as you Grow' type model. This has seen a fundamental shift in Redknee's business, to go from a 'perpetual' to a 'term license business', that a solution that is becoming increasingly attractive to our clients. The Pay as you Grow model gives our customers the ability to control and manage their costs at their own pace. Having deployed the cloud gives us the benefit of scaling up, when they need it.

Another key issue is of a home grown, non-standard, multi-vendor solution. Today you can get a charging solution, a care solution and a billing solution separately. However, when we talk to our clients, we inform them that we truly provide an end-to-end stack, not only from a retail billing perspective, but also from a wholesale billing perspective. This includes interconnect, settlement [MNO-to-MVNO, MNO-to-MVNE, MVNE-to-MVNO], profitability analysis, analytics, real time convergence, loyalty points and rewards programs, promotions, different kinds of care elements, and pre-integrated CRM with multi-faceted self-care tools. Our customers welcome this approach. To top it off, we manage a full suite of services to manage on their behalf, making Redknee their de facto IT team. They are quite impressed with this message of an end-to-end SAAS model.

What do you see Redknee's Perspective for the outlook for the billing Market in 2013/14 and possible MVNOS in general?

Namit - From a growth perspective, we think that we are ahead of the curve, and with our cloud launch, and we are now trying to make a dent in the North American market, and looking forward to Asia (APAC) and Europe.

Redknee cloud supports multiple tenants North Bound, but also the same cloud will also support connectivity to multiple network operators South Bound. This model is common in Europe, but really in North America and Asia, it is starting to excite many MVNOs, as now they do not have to put all their eggs in one basket. MVNOs can actually have their Network Operator compete for the business, get better wholesale rates and switch very easily from one operator to another, with no impact to the subscribers.

From a growth perspective, we see the MVNO/E market growing. We also see a huge influx of business opportunities towards Tier II and III operators who are looking at perhaps starting new sub-brands to go after new niche market segments, or the creation of new business models coming with the launch of 4G LTE networks., Some examples can be data based MVNOs and M2M opportunities, and Cloud is very strong value proposition for many of these businesses.

From a general technology perspective, in North America, we see a prepaid driven model developing, where traditionally this market was postpaid-centric. The customers want the flexibility of a postpaid model, but without the liability or contracts of a prepaid model. This can result in 'hybrid billing scenarios’ that are supported out of 'the box' because we have provided a convergent solution from day one.

Hybrid billing can be defined a numbers of ways; for example a large proportion of customers still use more than one phone, one for work and one for personal usage. In today’s technology environment, this should no longer be necessary. Our billing solutions allow a service to be set up in such a way that all the usage during office hours is charged to corporate account, and ‘out of hours’ usage is charged to a subscriber’s personal account, all through one device. This is an example of hybrid billing.

Redknee has also successfully launched a prepaid hybrid contract arrangement for one of our operators, which allows its customers to exceed their prepaid limits. Customers are alerted once they reach their balance limit – rather than cutting off their service, they are provided with the option to be charged ‘overage’ without a contract, extending the use of the mobile device. Those kind of services, whether used by an MVNO, MVNE or a larger operator, enables differentiation to provide a better experience to the subscriber with added value to the service.
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Namit Garg is the Director, Business Line Management for Redknee’s MVNO/E solutions.

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About Redknee:
Redknee monetizes today's digital world. We provide a complete portfolio of mission-critical monetization and subscriber management solutions, including real-time billing, charging, policy and customer care modules, which allow Communications Service Providers to charge for things in new and innovative ways and create a unique user experience. Available on premise, cloud-based, or as a Software-as-a-Service, Redknee's low-risk, flexible solutions power more than 250 businesses across the globe. Established in 1999, Redknee Solutions Inc. (TSX: RKN) is the parent of the wholly-owned operating subsidiary Redknee Inc. and its various subsidiaries.

References to Redknee refer to the combined operations of those entities. For more information about Redknee and its solutions, please go to www.redknee.com.

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