10 – 14 January 1998
Pacific Telecommunications Council Conference
12 January 1998
GTWN Power Breakfast
ITU Telecom ’99
GTWN Award for
“Innovation and Impact in Global Telecommunications”
An appraisal of the past and a view to the future
In this year’s last issue of the GTWN Newsletter we focus on two main topics: We review the efforts the GTWN and its members have made during the last 12 months to become a useful instrument of women’s networking in the field of telecommunications all over the world and give a short forecast for 1998.
The other dominant theme is deregulation. While in this issue we give a summary of Johanna Plante’s Sydney speech on the history and future of deregulation (with a special focus on Australia), in the next issue, Janet Yale will write about telecom regulation in Canada.
Finally, we have an interview with Susan Mirbach on the challenges she meets as President Belgacom North America.
A happy holiday season and a successful 1998 to you all.
Inaugural GTWN Event in Australia
Inaugural GTWN Event in Australia
The 1997 Annual Conference of the IIC in Sydney provided the opportunity for Australian members to get together with overseas colleagues and to promote the goals of the GTWN, at an inaugural event at the Sydney Regent Hotel on 1 October.
Australia Regional President and Director of Corporate Affairs for Telstra Corporation, Deirdre Mason, hosted a lively and informative breakfast, which brought together local representatives from a variety of organisations with delegates from Indonesia, California, Canada and South Africa.
Opening the breakfast, Frank Blount, CEO of sponsor Telstra Corporation, welcomed the participants and commented on the changing environment for women in the telecommunications industry, especially over recent years. He highlighted the skills of women in understanding customer needs, which he believed would be an increasingly important competitive advantage in the future.
Johanna Plante, CEO of the newly formed Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF), an industry selfregulatory body, then spoke about the history and future of deregulation in telecommunications, providing some insights from her previous roles, both in the industry and as a former member of the telecommunications regulator, Austel. (The highlights of her speech are reprinted on pages 4 to 6.)
GTWN Review and Forecast
1997 in Review and Breaking Ground for 1998
This has been an exciting and busy year for the GTWN. As we approach year’s end, we wanted to take time out to review the year and to look ahead to 1998 a flagship year in telecommunications.
In particular, we would like to thank each and everyone of the GTWN members and supporters for making the Global Telecom Women’s Network a thriving, international community of professional women leaders networking and improving telecommunications around the globe.
A year of exciting events
The year got off to a start when the GTWN participated at the Canadian Women in Communications Annual Conference in February. What a fabulous group! The Canadian Women are very organized and very ‘with it’ in global telecommunications.
From Canada we went on to have four major GTWNorganized events which pretty much took us around the globe.
We kicked off the year at the world’s largest communications and electronics fair in Hanover, Germany, in March. O.tel.o., the new German telecommunication player, sponsored the GTWN Power Breakfast which featured the President of the German Telecommunication Council, Minister Dr. Peter Fischer; Elke Geising, Senior VicePresident of TSC, and Gaele Hotellier, stepping in for Cathy Dobson, Director of Corporate Strategy at o.tel.o. Thirty ‘Power Women’ attended the Breakfast taking place in the Tower Room overlooking the entire fair.
On June 10, Ida Chow, GTWN Regional President for Asia, arranged a super event at the ITU’s Asia Telecom in Singapore. Singapore Telecom sponsored the event which brought 35 top women from the four corners of the earth together.
Jonathan Parapak, Indonesian Secretary General for Telecommunications addressed the gathering. From all accounts it was a superb event and assembled our largest attendance ever. The magic happened and Ida waived her wand majestically.
On June 3rd, Candace Johnson kicked off the first U.S. GTWN Regional Meeting in New Orleans at the Super Comm. It was beautifully arranged by Susan Mirbach, USA Regional President and Belgacom USA President. The Belgian Chocolate telephones were not to be missed!
Then in October, the GTWN visited Australia for the first time as well. We were very fortunate to have Telstra as our sponsor. Deirdre Mason, GTWN Regional President for Australia and Corporate Director of Telstra, did a great job in putting together a stellar program and giving the GTWN a high profile in the media and at the IIC convention.
For the first time in this year, we kicked off the idea of the GTWN Regional Presidents an idea which has reinforced our global dimension and added an entire new level and scope of activities.
Thank you to all our GTWN Regional Presidents and Steering Committee Members for your incredible dedication and commitment to making the Global Telecom Women’s Net Work!
1997 also saw the appearance of the GTWN’s own Internet site. It now has its own address and can be found at http://www.gtwn.org.
Looking ahead to 1998 and 1999, the GTWN will be present at the Pacific Telecommunications Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, with a GTWN Breakfast sponsored by Orion Network Systems Incorporated on Monday, January 12 at 7:30 a.m.
Then, we will go to the Africas Telecom in May 1998 and will be present also at Comdex in November 1998. At all three events, we will be breaking new ground as it will be the first time the GTWN will be present in Honolulu, Africa or at Comdex.
At the Honolulu Breakfast we will be announcing the launch of the GTWN Awards for Humanity and Excellence in Global Telecommunications. The Awards will be given at a blacktie event in Geneva in conjunction with the ITU and Telecom ’99.
Finally, we would like to extend a special thanks to star consult and Dr. Susanne Paech and Stephanie Hansen. Thanks to these two wonderful women and their company, the GTWN is not only present via its events around the world, but is present every day in every part of the world via the GTWN Newsletter.
A very happy holiday season to all and a great 1998!
News about GTWN Members
News about GTWN Members
Arely Castellon has been named Vice President and General Manager of Motorola Wireless Networks, Latin America. Arely has moved to Florida to head the region. Arely came to Motorola from Global One where she was Vice President and General Manager for the Americas. She will continue on as GTWN Regional President for Latin America.
Wendy Franz Richards has become a Director of the Telecom Practice Group for HSBC in charge of mergers and acquisitions, financing and IPO’s. The HSBC Telecom Practice is the largest in the world. Wendy comes to HSBC from Air Touch where she was Managing Director. Wendy is now based in London and continues as a strong and active founding GTWN Steering Committee Member.
Dr. Mina Schachter-Radig has become Managing Director of Arcis Media.Com Management GmbH based in Munich, Germany. Arcis is focusing on broadband interactive multimedia networks. Mina has come to Arcis, which she helped found, from VIAG where she was Managing Director of TBD. She is an active GTWN Steering Committee Member.
Susan Dark is keeping her base in London but opening up the AsiaPacific Region for her company TSC where she is Senior Vice President. Surely a sign of the wonderful Global Telecommunications environment we are living in. Susan who is GTWN Regional President for Europe is now in regular contact with colleagues, Ida Chow, Managing Director of Pacific Electric and Wire, GTWN Regional President for Asia, and Deirdre Mason, Corporate Director of Telstra and GTWN Regional President for Australia.
Ambassador Diana Lady Dougan, one of the founding members of the GTWN, has been touted as one of the possible candidates to become the next ITU Secretary General. We are tremendously proud of Diana for this distinction.
On behalf of all of the Global Telecom Women’s Network, I would like to congratulate these „movers and shakers” and to wish them well as they assume their existing new responsibilities. Their new addresses can be had from the GTWN headquarters or via the GTWN Internet page http://www.gtwn.org at the password protected GTWN directory. The passwords have been sent out by separate letter to all our members.
Special Tribute to Vicky MacLeod
Vicki MacLeod will be leaving her two-year secondement as Executive Director of the International Institute of Communications to return to Telstra on January 1, 1998 to take up her exciting work in the corporate strategy and regulatory department.
The very good news is that Vicki will be staying on as GTWN Secretary General and contributing to making our organization even more global and more virtual. Our global headquarters are in London; our regional presidents, steering committee and members come from all over the world, and our Secretary General will be in Australia.
Vicki is the consummate ‘networker’ and ‘organizer’. She has worked unfailingly as our Secretary General for the last year and a half to get our organization organized on a solid basis and she has built the partnership with the IIC to be one of mutual value.
All of us wish Vicki the very best for her return to Australia and look forward to continuing to work with her to make the GTWN grow and all our members prosper.
The History and Future of Deregulation
The History and Future of Deregulation
by Johanna Plante,
CEO of the newly formed Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF),
extracts of her speech held at the Power Breakfast in Sydney on 1 October 1997
[…] I would like you to imagine it is the 1890s rather than the 1990s. Imagine you are sitting here prefederation, more than a hundred years ago not to hear about the liberalisation of telecommunications and the intricacies of deregulation, reregulation, procompetition, cable duplication, cable rationalisation and Professor Alan Fels, but to hear about and see for the first time a wonderful new invention the telephone. […]
A new business develops
Now imagine you are considering this new invention from a business perspective. You look at the supply and demand side of the equation and quickly conclude that this telephone business is much too risky. […]
As you analyse further, you soon discover the sheer magnitude of the capital you would need to build a network and connect people to that network. You also quickly realise that if you tried to charge people the thousands of dollars it would actually cost you to connect them, you would get very few customers. And of course the less people there were connected to your network, the less attractive and useful the service would be for those that were connected. […] So all these things – the capital intensity of the telephone business, the need for hefty, ongoing crosssubsidies and the difficulty in attracting new customers together with massive uncertainties as the time as to who would really want such a service and how much they would actually use it would probably have stopped any reasonable business person from investing on a commercial, unprotected basis.
And so, right across the world, governments created monopoly telephone companies mainly public sector (with a few exceptions) and gave them the protection and certainty to make the necessary longterm investments in what soon came to be seen as a ‘public good’ natural monopoly infrastructure just like water and electricity. This protected monopoly went on for almost a hundred years. And then, in the short space of just over a decade, it was turned completely upside down.
Why? Why was it that after a century of fairly effective monopoly telephone provision, the world suddenly decided that telephone monopolies were all wrong and that competition was the way to go? What changed? What was so radically different in those last few decades of this century?
The answer is simple: technology. Not just telecommunications technology, but all the other technology developments of the last few decades that changed forever the face of telecommunications.
Because we have all experienced such dramatic and accelerating rates of technology change in our own lifetimes, it is hard for us to realise that in the first sixty or seventy years of the telephone business, nothing much has changed from the day the first automatic telephone exchange was installed. […]
Though the users and usage continued to grow as the network was expanded, the only use continued to be plain old voice communications. […]
Electronics changed all this. Electronics catalysed exponential growth in both telecommunications and computing that created an explosion in the diversity, utility and uses of telecommunications. It also led to escalating customer demands for better, faster and more sophisticated communications demands that the incumbent monopoly carriers found more and more difficult to meet. Market pull was replacing technology push as the main driver of telecommunications growth, severely challenging the capital investment and construction capabilities of the monopoly carriers.
At the same time, plummeting costs, greater diversity of demand and explosive technology innovation were progressively making telecommunications a much more attractive business proposition potentially a business that people would invest in without regulatory protection a business that people actually wanted to invest in. And this was all occurring in an era of privatisation and microeconomic reform.
The beginning of deregulation
So, by the early 1980s, the world of telecommunications and monopoly carrier operations was being turned on its head. […]
Enter deregulation or, more accurately, market liberalisation. Worldwide, reducing or removing barriers to market entry was coming to be seen as a way of increasing investment in telecommunications, improving the efficiency of the industry, catalysing faster innovation and growth and reducing prices not to mention the opportunities it promised for private sector business profits.
But of course there were also countrydriven specific drivers for this deregulation as for example in the USA, where network liberalisation flowed from a judicial decision rather than being driven by government policy, […] or in Australia, where network deregulation flowed from the government’s “Review of Structural Arrangements” which was, in fact, a review of the structures and relationships between the governmentowned telecommunications carriers Telecom, OTC and AUSSAT.[…]
The Australian way
Australia is now in the final stages of its decadelong transition from government monopoly to full and open competition in telecommunications. The government’s ultimate objective is to achieve an efficient and internationally competitive industry in the longterm interests of end-users.
The vehicle through which it set out to achieve this was the introduction and growth of competition, progressively in all areas of the industry. And the process it adopted was progressive market liberalisation, starting with the introduction of a second network competitor in 1991 and the explicit promotion of duopoly network competition.
Yet, ironically, the end result of this process has been an order of magnitude increase in industry regulation. […] Some of you may find it rather strange and counter intuitive as to how there can be such a massive increase in an era of socalled ‘deregulation’. But I guess there are some fairly plausible explanations:- As telecommunications markets are liberalised and you get multiple, interconnected carriers and service providers you need more rules and regulations to protect consumer interests, safeguard endtoend network integrity, maintain endtoend service quality, achieve carrier cooperation and coordination, ensure compatibility between different provider services and ensure ‘anytoany’ connectivity […].
Another reason is that if youreally want competition in an infrastructureintensive industry such as telecommunications that has substantial and increasing inherent economies of scale and scope, you need rules and regulations to give new entrants access to those ‘bottleneck’ natural monopoly facilities that they need to viably compete.
And also where you have one or more incumbent players that have substantial market power, you also need to protect smaller players from anticompetitive conduct.
But the whole 1991 concept of actively promoting network competition as opposed to just providing an opportunity for more widespread fair and even competition is something that seems to be unique to the Australian telecommunications industry. […]
We are in a fully and openly competitive marketplace with no regulatory barriers to entry and a whole gaggle of new regulators and regulations:
For suppliers this means opportunities for new business ventures and revenue streams. It also means much more intense competition and escalating pressures on productivity, prices and costs.
And for customers it means many more technology, service andprice options and much greatercomplexity of choice.
So, how will things evolve from here? Well, one thing is certain nobody really knows. But I would like to conclude by giving some of my views on what might happen and where things might go.
Expectations for the short run
I believe that technology will remain the main driver of significant marketplace and product changes, but it will be competition that makes sure that the benefits do actually flow through to the customer. There will be much more vigorous long distance and international price competition between existing and new players, breaking down at last the duopoly pricing regime.
Newer market entrants will have lower cost structures. They will also be able to get costeffective access to the facilities of existing carriers through the new regulatory regime and minimise their capital investment. […]
I believe that the number and diversity of niche market players, both telephony and Pay TV, will grow, particularly in regional centres. Concentration by competitors on the highmargin market sectors such as long distance telephony and data will probably leave room in other less popular areas for low cost, efficient and entrepreneurial new entrants to carve out attractive niche businesses through innovative product packaging and pricing. […]
There is also likely to be strong interest in the highgrowth, highmargin area of data communications and this will mean a dramatic increase in optical fibre and satellite transmission capacity. I would expect that this would eventually lead to sharp price declines and shrinking margins.
The importance of customer service
In the longer term, pricing pressures on what is really a commodity product that is, a plain old telephone call are likely to shift the focus to product and service differentiation and to what other things can be bundled in to increase the value and attractiveness of the total telephony package. Price will become less important, and the evolution from an ‘infrastructure’ business to a ‘service’ business will be complete.
But one thing is certain it will become harder and harder for customers to keep across all the product and price options out there in the marketplace. So I would expect that over time, the vast majority of consumers will just tend to stick with a service provider they know, they trust and they feel comfortable with.
After all the hype about technology, liberalisation, deregulation and competition has died down, the key to success in the telecommunications industry will come down, not to what ACIF, the ACAF, the ACA, the ACCC, or the Minister does, but to the simple common denominator of customer service as it does in all other industries the world over.
Interview with Susan Mirbach
Interview with Susan G. Mirbach,
President Belgacom North America,
GTWN Regional President USA
GTWN: As President of the U.S. ‘branch’ of a European carrier, thousands of miles from headquarters, have you faced any unique challenges?
Susan: Yes, I have. One of my biggest challenges with customers and with Belgacom headquarters has been what I will call the ‘educational challenge.’ And in this context I am the teacher. Let me explain.
For more than ten years, my customer the American telecom manager has been buying products and services in an increasingly competitive market place. And she is used to doing business with certain carriers and service providers. Now her company is getting into the international arena for the first time. My ‘educational’ challenge with this customer is to get her to understand that the European market is not just a clone of the American market that happens to be overseas. And that her familiar American OneStopShop may not be the place to go.
About half of the telecom managers I work with realize that they do not know about the European market. But the other half do not even know that they do not know and that is a much tougher course of study.
GTWN: How does the European market differ from the American market?
Susan: Let me count the ways:
The types of services offered are different.
The standards are different.
The acronyms are different.
The pricing is different.So it is my job to acquaint her with the European ‘facts of life’.
I said that I had an educational challenge with Belgacom headquarters, too. To Belgians, the company is as familiar as AT&T was in the predivestiture days: everyone has been a Belgacom customer. So when I told my boss that we have to develop name recognition, he seemed surprised. But Belgacom North America is a small player in the U.S. market and there is so much competitive ‘noise’ that even getting noticed is a challenge. One advantage for us is the Belgacom name does not carry any negative baggage in this country.
GTWN: Do differences in culture play an important role?
Susan: Yes, differences in culture can become a critical business issue. My role is to build a cultural bridge between the American telecom manager and the European marketplace. For example, there is the question of speed. In describing the typical American, George Santayana once said: “All his life, he jumps into a train after it has started and jumps out before it has stopped; and never once gets left behind, or breaks a leg.”
That is not the way Europeans do things. In the European market, if you want to sell, first you have to patiently build relationships. And that can take time.
When I was describing the American telecom manager, I said that she was used to operating in a competitive marketplace. She welcomes competition, because it means that she has more choices, and it also puts her in a much better bargaining position, when it comes to price, features, discounts, installation intervals just about everything.
GTWN: That sounds like the telecom manager’s dream. Is it really like that?
Susan: Well, let me offer a footnote to the dream. And it creates another challenge for me the ‘ambivalence challenge’. You see, in reality, the competitive silver lining has a cloud: there are often too many choices too many potential suppliers too many competing packages of products and services.
The American telecom manager sometimes feels like she is in the strategic equivalent of Las Vegas. A huge choice of games to play and every dealer trying to get her to play at his table: “Everyone a winner!” There is lots of uncertainty and lots of risk. So the dream takes on some nightmare qualities. That is why, along with the telecom manager’s hunger for choice, there is a parallel hunger for the OneStopShop – the single point of contract – the prime contractor. Having one’s cake and eating it, too: enjoying the benefits of competition, without really getting in harm’s way.
Working with that manager, my challenge is to satisfy that ambivalent hunger: to offer her lots of choices from Belgacom, or from third parties but, at the same time, acting as her agent, to make the process userfriendly and free of anxiety.
GTWN: The U.S. has been through a similar deregulatory process. Are there lessons that European telecom companies can draw from their American colleagues’ experience?
Susan: Actually, when all of the EU’s directives take effect, the European market will be more competitive than the U.S. market. But I think, for the PTTs, there are some lessons to be learned.
First, get used to the idea that you are going to lose market share. That is inevitable, particularly as telephone service per se becomes commoditized. The best way to make up for that loss is to move into new markets the way Belgacom is moving into VSAT and Internet access and to develop new products and services, or package them in innovative new ways.
Second, there is what I will call a ‘hometown advantage’: your customers may complain about you sometimes, but they know you you have relationships with them you have been their phone company for as long as they can remember you live down the street. And that ‘history’ you share can help you keep a customer or make a sale not every time, of course, but sometimes.
Third and this is the reverse side of the ‘hometown advantage’ in a competitive marketplace, strategic alliances become much more important. For Belgacom, our worldclass partners Ameritech, Singapore Telecom and Tele Danmark who own 49.9% of us (with the Belgian government owning the remaining majority stake) give us a much stronger competitive position more buying power with equipment vendors and they bring a wealth of broader experience to the table. In other words, in a global marketplace, you have to be a global company.
GTWN: If a young woman is interested in getting ahead in the telecommunications industry, what preparation education, training, etc. would you suggest? And how did you get into this industry?
Susan: That young woman should have as much of a technical background as possible. And she should know how to write. And she needs one other basic skill: networking. That is why GTWN is so important. It is a great opportunity for networking, sharing knowledge, making contacts, finding out about opportunities.
In fact, that is how I got my first job in telecommunications. I was actually interested in the commercial space industry and satellite communications. But a woman I knew suggested that I meet with a telecom executive not for a job interview, but for an ‘informational’ interview: he would tell me about the field.
As far as filling the position was concerned, he intended to hire a telecom engineer with a sales background and perhaps with some knowledge of French.
I was not looking for that job. I was not an engineer. I did have a telecom background. I was fluent in French. I got the job. Networking!
Susan G. Mirbach
… has been President of Belgacom North America since the office opened in April 1990.
She is responsible for all the carrier’s American operations, with a focus on customer service, sales and marketing of Belgacom’s services to North American-based multinational companies.
Ms. Mirbach’s extensive experience in International telecommunications includes four years as Director of Marketing and Major Accounts, working with the largest American clients of France Telecom Inc., the U.S. arm of the French carrier.
Prior to that, she served as Faculty Research Associate at INSEAD, the European Institute of Business Administration in Fountainbleau, France.
Before that, she was a Consultant in the Business and Strategic Planning Group of Coopers & Lybrand, Washington, D.C.
Susan holds an M.B.A. in International Business from INSEAD, and a B.A. with Honors in International Relations from Stanford University. She also earned a Certificate in Telecom Analysis from New York University.
Susanne Paech (Editor-in-Chief)
Stephanie Hansen (Editor + Layout)
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