A telco expert changing the way we communicate, one massive network at a time

In the telco world, very few people have more hands-on experience and strategic skill than Talmix independent consultant Paul. Having worked with most of the leading GSM and network providers and operators globally, including Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, O2, AT&T and MTN, Paul’s career has positioned him as a sought-after industry expert who not only served on the team that initially introduced ISDN to the UK Market, but also as a key player in the development and deployment of what is today’s largest cellular network in Africa, MTN Nigeria.

We talk to Paul about his career path so far, and how he continues to drive change in the way the telco industry works today. 

“My career started in engineering with a degree in electrical and electronics engineering, and a Master’s Degree in Telematics from the University of Surrey. I knew, while studying, that the mobile and cellular worlds were about to go through a huge period of rapid transformation, and I wanted to strengthen my knowledge in computing as much as I possible. This, as well as my early industrial training on domestic satellite stations, led to the perfect partnership that has pretty much set the course for my career,” Paul tells me. And from the rest of our conversation, it’s apparent that he’s done exactly that. Having moved to the UK in 1990, at the start of a massive technology boom, Paul was very soon snapped up by Ericsson UK to join their software development team. With extensive previous experience in microwave radio, VHF, PABXs (Private Branch Exchanges) within the enterprise environment, Paul had the skills that were needed to introduce this feature-rich opportunity into public networks in the form of ISDN. At Ericsson UK, Paul was involved in several projects which included the development and deployment of ISDN into the UK Market. “At the time, the major player in the UK was naturally British Telecom (BT). It was a privilege for me to be able to develop a new function, end-to-end. Ericsson was introducing application modularity into their systems and the whole idea behind this was to develop a network of applications within a system with ETSI-ISDN as an application module.”  

Paul was on his way to become a huge part of the transformation of the fixed and cellular operators market in the UK and Europe. Following his experience with Ericsson UK, he chose to progress his career as independent consultant looking at operational strategy from a more holistic view. “I had begun my career at grass-roots level through software development, but soon developed a broader view of the business horizon and had quickly progressed towards leading new plans and visions. I was able to see the direction that technology was going in, and the opportunities available for other operators to develop new revenue streams, and that’s where my career in independent consulting really began”.  

Working at the forefront of the tech world, Paul not only led medium term development of switching solution for BT’s CellNet but was intrinsically involved in network-centric analysis, conceptualising possibilities with network architecture teams and subsequently leading implementation for Ericsson Sweden working on integration and rollout of networks for operators in Europe. At Ericsson in Aachen, Germany, he led industrialisation testing of prepaid platform and subsequently testing of the new layered architecture for 3G.

But it was in 2001 when Paul’s career took a major turn and his skills within the early GSM world became a sought-after commodity. “At the turn of the century, GSM-licensing started to take off in emerging markets like Nigeria and India. I was head-hunted as Operations Manager to help MTN Nigeria develop people, processes and tools to ensure the day-to-day, 24 x 7, running of a new network The challenge then was rapid growth in a market with a poor, pre-existing infrastructure. As a team, we self-provisioned power network of generators and transmission network with additional approval from the regulator. I led my team to constantly battle network congestion and we eventually provided operational statistics that proved that original business plan assumptions were inadequate. For example, average call holding time was much longer than assumed as well as the fact that mobile was the primary means of communication as fixed network was under-developed with only 4 lines per 1000 citizens. We developed a new business plan and got the board’s approval for more investment in the market.” By 2004, the Nigerian GSM network was the fastest growing GSM network in the world. Paul was part of the leadership team that accomplished a 5 year-business plan within 18 months – and it was Paul’s responsibility to set up a new, more robust operational model that would continue the growth-path, and which ultimately led to MTN Nigeria becoming the profit powerhouse for MTN.

And since then, Paul has never looked back. As an independent consultant within telco, he positions his services to help network providers and operators find new ways of becoming profitable; whether it requires a business model transformation, the development of new network architecture, updated infrastructure or simply driving efficiency through outsourcing / offshoring (managed services). His focus is on helping organisations deliver a consistently high level of service to their own customers, through implementing technology improvements like cloud-based computing and cloud network functionality. Enabling his clients to deliver great customer experiences, Paul is always on the lookout for new ways to drive a successful customer service through technology, and make it efficient and cost-effective to implement a network that will support the data traffic tsunami. 

For your opportunity to work with someone like Paul who understands the skeletal make-up of telco and who governs strategically, speak to a member of the Talmix team today. 

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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