Jun 3, 2020

Interview with Sergey Okhrimenko, COO at LANCK Telecom

We are continuing the series of the interviews with C-level managers of telco companies. Today offline connection between people is minimized due to epidemiological reasons. It is an unfortunate necessity, but also raises different questions for the industry. 

How to stay tuned on the current situation in the market? 

What do decision makers think of the latest news? 

What will be the determining factors for the industry of tomorrow? 

If you are involved in the telecom market or your business is related to the telco industry, this text will be obviously interesting to you; as we ask the main players of the telco industry the most hot-button questions.

Today we are talking with LANCK Telecom’s COO Sergey Okhrimenko. It is the second and the last interview with LANCK Telecom managers. Next we will be talking to C-levels from our partner’s company. Be sure you are subscribed to our social networks not to miss the next interview (LinkedIn and Facebook). Please do not hesitate to leave your feedback and suggestions in comments.


– Hi Sergey, many thanks for finding time to talk. So let’s start. The global situation with COVID-19 has already changed the world pretty much. Isolation and restrictions have influenced all spheres of the global and local economies. But we all believe that soon the situation will ease and the world economy and business will recover as well as all the people who got sick. But now we need to act in new circumstances. Industry events that always have been main boosts for deals, partner updates, and product reveals have turned online or been canceled. What do you think of the virtual format of telco conferences and meetings? What are your predictions regarding the ensuing business process changes?


– New circumstances dictate new formats of work:

In the case of conferences – the virtual format makes them accessible. There is no need to go anywhere: get a visa, book a flight and hotel room, etc. Besides, the virtual format is helping audiences concentrate on the presentation subject.

As to the networking part – this is a disaster – unfortunately there is no networking at all. As to virtualisation in general – the general opinion is that regular things and processes have become much slower and businesses have to adjust to be more efficient. 

Let’s use the task of business penetration as an example – this challenge takes completely new forms during a pandemic. When physical presence is almost impossible, businesses have to create new processes to solve the tasks of geographical penetration and communication with customers.


– You have mentioned different new trends. So what does the future hold for international carriers like LANCK Telecom? What will happen to traditional telecom threads like international voice, roaming or A2P SMS?


– Well, the situation with the pandemic has affected both the voice and sms parts of our business.

We have seen an increase in international voice and a dramatic drop in roaming traffic (which is understandable) and an increase in A2P SMS traffic – which is very obvious too. 

However, the global trends for carriers are still the same: decrease in voice, still increasing A2P SMS and skyrocketing RCS technology. And if we additionally mention the developing IOT sphere, then we can assume that there are a lot of opportunities for IPX providers to find a proper place in the future technology paradigm. All these technologies will give birth to a set of value added services. What we have to do is to find those opening opportunities.


– I guess you are the right person to ask about fraud protection. As we know, you have proposed a new solution to beat fraud that has already been highly praised by the community – the A&B number handshake. Could you please briefly tell us about it? Is it really supposed to be a game changer?


– Fraud is a $28B problem for the telecom industry starting with robocalls, wangiri, CLI spoofing and others.

This solution is really a game changer – it will help all players – MNOs, MVNOs, Fixed line operators, Skype-like applications – to mitigate  fraud in sufficient scale. It will protect from all types of voice fraud and can easily be adjusted for SMS and RCS protection.

Why a game changer? Now every business is trying to build fraud protection alone using one or another set of tools. Some operators block the calls they consider to be fraudulent, some initiate payment withholdings for the traffic they consider to be fraudulent – all this gives rise to misunderstanding and distrust in the community.

Our philosophy of fraud management is built on our experience of resolving numerous fraud cases and it is as follows: operators have to collaborate on every case they suspect to be fraud. Moreover, they have to inform each other very fast, immediately when they notice something suspicious – better in real time!

We created and launched this system of cooperative security which allows us to discover and block all types of fraud in real time, providing the operators logs of fraudulent attempts. This is really a game changer. We believe this system will be widely adopted in the community because it puts every participant on the same page in the question of all fraud-related business processes: discovery of fraud, Trouble Tickets, Disputes, Payment withholdings, law enforcement. The system is shortlisted at GSMA as a potential solution for end-to-end validation of integrity of call signaling. The detailed description you can find in the article published on the Black Swan online journal. 


– Modern telco is global, but needs to deal with national rules and local restrictions. What issues does telecom experience from the activity of regulatory organisations and governments? How does telecom react to their directives? Are the dedicated efforts worth the result?


– Good question. We have to understand that regulations are an inseparable part of telecom business. Most national regulations follow the international ones. But when we come to fraud management specifics – here we can find a lot of contradictions. Recently, we have seen the FCC, CRTC, Ofcom and other regulators issue a lot of fraud related recommendations – and this is very good. But some of them appear to be contradictory. They issue recommendations concerning handling of fraud cases totally forgetting that most fraud cases are connected with international calls which originate in one country and terminate in another. And those countries have different regulations. This introduces operators and carriers to a series of discussions at different groups such as CFCA, i3Forum, TUFF. It would be better to have regulators join these discussions to help bring everything together.  


– Well, I hope your expectations will become reality soon. But getting back to fraud protection, as far as I know you were among those who first recognized and researched Wangiri 2.0, which is a fraud type that mostly affects enterprises. Why is it so difficult to identify? And how to resist it? What should enterprises do to avoid Wangiri 2.0?


– A few words about Wangiri 2.0. This is a new type of fraud we described last year. Contrary to usual Wangiri which targets private persons, Wangiri 2.0 targets enterprises which make international calls. To make enterprises call back fraudulent numbers, fraudsters fill in on-line web forms and APIs faking user requests to get a call. Enterprises keep trying to reach these numbers they get from web forms and apps thus wasting money for international calls which will never convert into sales leads or real customers. The controversy is the following: these international calls create a revenue stream for the operator, who provides service to the enterprise, so they see nothing suspicious in this traffic. What should enterprises do to avoid Wangiri 2.0? As far as we know there only exists one solution on the market which can give proper protection for enterprises – LANCK Fraud Management System.   


– Besides voice fraud there is SMS fraud as well, where the situation may seem even more complicated. Why is it so? And what should be done to overcome the SMS fraud problem?


– Indeed the situation with SMS fraud is more complex. And what we see is that there are a lot of solutions on the market which cover certain types of SMS fraud. All of them are firewall-like. However, we feel the most effective protection from SMS fraud can be achieved with the Fraud Management System approach, not the firewall approach. This is what we are currently working on.


– Good! We’ll wait for updates regarding your work on it.

Let’s talk about new trends in telco. This year is pretty significant as we have entered the 5G era – that is a technology breakthrough in terms of data throughput performance. But the question for the future is – what’s next? Is it just about channels’ carrying capacity increasing or will the industry extension flow differently? What are the steps to boost development?


– Well 5G is a really the era of REAL TIME. This is not only about increasing capacity of channels. Top notch capacity is nothing if you don’t have the proper calculation capacities connected to these channels, corresponding end user devices which will collect data and send them to those calculation capacities ,and provide calculation results to end users. So, 5G will bring a new level of quality which will boost not only the production of the aforementioned hardware, but also the development of new real time approaches and algorithms. 


– New technologies (such as clouds, AI or M2M connections) bring increasing variety and quality of services that telecom companies and internet service providers deliver, but there is another side of this process that results in several issues for telco business. Profit margins are decreasing, and the lines between telecom companies and technology vendors are blurring. Could you please give some advice on how to adopt new technologies and simultaneously overcome these side effects?


– Well, I cannot agree with your first statement as the margin decreases are occurring because of market player competition, not because of service diversity. Vice versa, AI for instance allows increasing margins and M2M might provide a new market niche for additional revenue streams. The adoption of new technologies will help overcome those negative effects as it has always been in the history of humanity. 


– It is clear that the year 2020 is very tough for a huge variety of companies, no matter how large they are. The world has faced new challenges – global recession, global pandemic, etc. What do you think LANCK and the other industry players should expect from 2020? Global alliances or global competition? What are your predictions?


– We will never return to the situation before the pandemic in terms of revenue structure, business models, and processes. The pandemic brought us to a completely new state of business, a new state of mind. And this is global.


– Let’s hope the new global situation will eventually lead to a better global situation!

Thank you, Sergey, for your answers and expressing your valued opinion on new telco tendencies and trends.


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