Your Connections. Our Commitment.

December 30th, 2009

Every day is a wonderful day when working at NetworkIP!

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit; some days aren’t so wonderful and some are even down right tough, but that is true of every job (even Santa’s). However, the holidays truly are a wonderful time of year to work at NetworkIP. No, I’m not just saying that because it’s the time of year when we have our annual rockin’ company party.

It has everything to do with knowing that our relatively small company makes a significant impact in so many lives around the world. As we watch our call counts reach peak volumes during this holiday season, we know that families and friends across the globe are being connected. All of our employees are hard at work every day to ensure that each valued call is connected with quality and clarity.

Knowing that we are trusted to provide these connections makes being part of NetworkIP and coming to work each day so special for me. “Your Connections. Our Commitment.”, is much more than just a tag line for all of us.

So pick up the phone and stay connected to your family and friends during this special time of the year.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Secrets of Success for Service Providers

December 7th, 2009

It’s hard to believe that another year is about to pass. Of all our years in business, 2009 has certainly been the most challenging for our industry. In 2010, we expect to see additional market consolidation and even more focus on quality and price. As a result, we felt the need to share our “Secrets of Success” with the industry and for companies looking for or considering becoming a Service Provider.

It’s with great pleasure that I’m able to introduce you to Pete Pattullo, our CEO. Pete has taken the time to put together an online video that covers the areas that we feel are the “Secrets of Success” for a Service Provider. Those nine areas are:

-    Reliability
-    Quality Connections
-    Cost Competitive
-    Power of Information
-    Evolution
-    Innovation
-    Point of Sale
-    Integrated Customer Service
-    The Right People and Skills

Pete dispels the myth that providing an Enterprise-Ready solution is as easy as plugging in a toaster. To succeed, Pete outlines, in detail, the key elements that form the foundation of NetworkIP’s business and how we continually succeed regardless of external market conditions.

We hope you learn from our successes and we wish you all the best in 2010!

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Keeping Your Eyes and Ears Open

October 7th, 2009

Given the speed of technology advancements it is imperative that we all keep our eyes and ears open to new opportunities. In my opinion, there has not been anything as exciting as what we have seen take place in the mobile industry in the last 5 years - both here in the U.S. and abroad.

From a prepaid perspective, 2009 has to be the most impressive year yet. It was in early January that Boost Mobile introduced their $50 unlimited plan and from that point forward the “Prepaid Mobile Price Wars” began. Maisie Ramsay just recently wrote a great article titled “Duking It Out In Prepaid” in Wireless Week on this subject. Beyond the price wars, the introduction of smart phones and the demand for mobile applications have really changed the face of prepaid mobile.

Also in 2009 we have seen an explosion in the number of mobile applications developed, and more importantly paid for and downloaded. While Apple’s iTunes store model has been by far the most successful (2 billion applications downloaded to date), Nokia, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Windows have all introduced their application store models in an attempt to gain market share in this space. I foresee the day when having a mobile application for your company is just as important as having a website.

As I leave my hotel room this morning and make the short walk to the San Diego Convention Center to attend CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment my eyes and ears will be open to the many new mobile opportunities that lie ahead for NetworkIP and our customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Will MetroPCS and Leap Wireless Merge?

September 13th, 2009

Gary Kim, editor in chief of IP Business Magazine, shares his thoughts on “the on-again, off-again potential merger between MetroPCS Communications and Leap (Cricket) Wireless” that might be on again.

With Sprint Nextel’s recent buyout of Virgin Mobile and just this past week watching the merger in the UK between Orange and T-Mobile take place, it is no wonder that analysts are talking about MetroPCS and Cricket. Kim makes a great point in his post by suggesting that this price-war between the two carriers can’t be good for either company for an extended period of time. It only makes reasonable business sense that the two carriers will have to make some move in the near future to avoid the “race to zero.”

I for one would applaud a merger between the two companies. Better yet, I’d like to see some smaller regional wireless providers like Pocket Communications and US Cellular included in that merger - that would give the larger carriers a reason to step up their efforts and provide more competitive products in the market.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Prepaid Wireless Providers in Q2 2009

September 8th, 2009

It won’t be long before the prepaid wireless providers are reporting their Q3 2009 numbers. Before that happens, I better get these Q2 2009 numbers posted. A BIG thanks to Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOm for doing the grunt work and compiling this data and making it available for all of us to consume.

From these numbers it is evident that Verizon remains on-top (both postpaid and prepaid) in total number of subscribers and it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone after looking at these statistics on why Sprint bought up Virgin Mobile when they did.

What does surprise me is that MetroPCS, even after adding 206,000 new subscribers last quarter and taking some big strides to promote their services & roll out a number of new products and marketing campaigns, has seen their stock prices continue to drop this quarter. Since the beginning of Q3, we have watched their stock price decrease from $12.63 (Jul. 1st) to $8.25 (Sep. 8th).

It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of Q3 2009 plays out for MetroPCS and the other prepaid mobile providers. I have a strong suspicion that we will see these providers focus on data and become much more aggressive with their international calling plans.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Leap Wireless (Cricket), reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $541.6 million
Wireless Operating Income: n/a
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 203,000
Total Subscribers: 4.5 million
Prepaid Churn: 4.4%
Prepaid ARPU: $41.91

MetroPCS, reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $859.6 million
Wireless Operating Income: $111 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 206,000
Total Subscribers: 6.3 million
Prepaid Churn: 5.8%
Prepaid ARPU: $40.52

T-Mobile, reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $5.34 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $425 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 268,000
Total Subscribers: 33.5 million
Blended Churn: 3.1%
Postpaid ARPU: $48

Sprint, reported Jul. 29
Wireless Revenue: $7 billion
Wireless Operating Loss: $314 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 777,000
Net Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 991,000
Total Subscribers: 48.8 million
Postpaid Churn: 2.05%
Prepaid Churn: 6.38%
Postpaid ARPU: $56
Prepaid ARPU: $34

Verizon, reported Jul. 27
Wireless Revenue: $15.5 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $4.46 billion
Wireless Data Revenue: $3.9 billion
Net Prepaid & Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 1.1 million
Total Subscribers: 87.7 million
Postpaid Churn: 1.01%
Postpaid ARPU: $51.10

AT&T, reported Jul. 23
Wireless Revenue: $13.25 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $3.2 billion
Wireless Data Revenue: $3.4 billion
Net Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 1.2 million
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 200,000
Blended Churn: 1.49%

Prepaid Press Expo 2009 Observations

September 4th, 2009

As part of my post conference ritual I take a long run the morning of my return home and I use my time on the trail to sort out what I saw, the conversations I had, and the presentations I sat through.

Following this year’s Prepaid Press Expo I have come to three simple conclusions:

1.    The prepaid calling card industry is consolidating and brands are more important than ever.
2.    The mobile industry, specifically prepaid mobile, is growing and evolving as a product.
3.    The prepaid calling card industry must leverage the mobile industry to succeed in the future.

The prepaid mobile industry has gone through some significant and positive changes in 2009. Let me set the stage for a moment about the prepaid mobile space before I go any further.

The commonly found post-paid billing model that we embrace in the U.S. is by no means the norm when we look at the rest of the world. In the U.S., prepaid mobile subscriptions account for less than 20% of all mobile subscriptions. Conversely, prepaid represents more than 80% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide.

There is a shift occurring in the U.S. from the traditional post-paid billing model to prepaid. In Q1 of 2009, for the first time ever, the number of new prepaid mobile subscriptions exceeded the number of new post-paid mobile subscriptions. Why is causing this shift to occur in the U.S.?

1.    It is evident that the economic crisis has enticed many people, especially those who were recently laid off from work, to make the move to prepaid mobile versus signing a 2-year long post-paid contract with a carrier.
2.    Earlier this year, mobile carriers such as Boost kicked off an unlimited nationwide calling plan for as low as $50.00 a month. Prepaid carriers such as Cricket, MetroPCS, T-Mobile, etc. quickly followed and now you can find a very nice unlimited nationwide calling plan (which also includes texting and data) for as low as $40.00 a month.
3.    The quality of mobile phones has improved significantly. In the past, prepaid mobile providers offered low-end, even refurbished phones that had very little appeal and very few features. Now, you can find very feature rich smart phones with high-end features such as e-mail, picture phones, data plans, blue-tooth, Wi-Fi, etc.

The demographics of the prepaid mobile market are rapidly changing in the U.S. From the beginning, prepaid mobile plans held a negative connotation – ie: they appealed to the “lower class”. This same undertone is not found in the international market. As a result of the slower economic times, we are seeing this negative implication being detached in the U.S. & rather than consumers viewing prepaid mobile as the lower class solution, prepaid has become the smart choice for the value conscious mobile consumer.

With 90% of today’s U.S. population having mobile subscriptions and by 2014 it’s projected that over 100% of the U.S. population will have mobile subscriptions, we must give this industry more attention than ever before. To highlight this point even further, in an Economist article titled “Cutting the cord” it was noted that one in every four households in the U.S. is already a cell phone only (CPO) household. The article goes on to suggest that if the current trend to adopt mobile services continues, that by 2025, landlines at home will no longer exist.

Realizing that mobile services are now ubiquitous to everyone, how do those in the prepaid calling card space leverage the growth in mobile?

1.    Market your products as extensions to mobile – Highlight how easy your product is to use via mobile phones.
2.    Incorporate features such as PIN-less Dialing, Auto Recharge, and Speed Dial. Remind yourselves that the mobile subscriber wants advanced and efficient solutions.
3.    Take advantage of direct marketing to the consumer by sending text messages to their phone announcing new features, new rates, and other special offerings on their prepaid long distance product.
4.    Deliver “clean”/reputable prepaid calling card products. The mobile subscriber expects to receive what is printed on the package.

Given our current environment, it is paramount that we focus our energies where the mobile industry is shifting. The prepaid calling card industry is consolidating and brands are more important than ever. The mobile industry, specifically prepaid mobile, is growing and evolving as a product. And most importantly, the prepaid calling card industry must leverage the mobile industry to succeed in the future.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

How to Find Us at the Prepaid Press Expo

August 18th, 2009

We wouldn’t be the Gladiators of Prepaid if we just sat back and kept quiet. If you are coming to the Prepaid Press Expo this year you’ll have a number of opportunities to meet NetworkIP.

You’ll always be able to find one of us at booth 323 from sunrise to sunset this Tuesday – Thursday. We also have a number of speaking engagements planned throughout the duration of this year’s event.

Our CEO, Pete Pattullo will appear twice on Tuesday. First at 10:00 AM, Pete will talk about “Prepaid Virtual Operators – Turnkey Hosted Solutions for Card Providers.” Then later in the afternoon at 1:30 PM Pete will talk about “New Developments in Prepaid Technology – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

On Wednesday and Thursday morning, Nichole Janner, our VP of Prepaid Services & I (Brian Kirk), VP of Business Development will have show floor presentations. Nichole is keeping her presentation under wraps for now. I’ll be talking about the Prepaid Mobile Space and providing insight on what has occurred in just the past 6-months and how the prepaid calling card industry can best leverage the prepaid mobile space.

If your tied up during the day, then you still have a chance to catch up with one of us from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on Wednesday during the Gladiators of Prepaid Happy Hour Lounge at booth 512 – 514 which we are sponsoring.

We look forward to meeting you at the show.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

August 18th, 2009

It’s been another interesting year since we all met at the last Prepaid Press Expo. I know we have all endured some bumpy and windy roads along the way. Hopefully the lessons learned have given us the tools to navigate the path ahead.

Our organizations have been challenged in a variety of ways, and we have conquered many hurdles. We have learned new ways to do business, strengthened our existing relationships, and established new lasting ones.

Today we begin another new day, this time we’ll be in Las Vegas at the Prepaid Press Expo. The Prepaid Press Expo is a great opportunity for all of us to come together and share our stories of the journeys we’ve traveled and our plans for the future.

We offer sincere gratitude to our customers who have walked along side us over the past year; you are and will remain critical to our success.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Remaining Optimistic About CTIA ‘09

April 1st, 2009

The annual CTIA conference kicked off in Las Vegas earlier today. Due to a conflict I was unable to make it for opening day, however, I’ll be on the conference floor both Thursday and Friday of this week.

According to today’s press releases about the show’s attendance more than 1,000 folks have registered to attend this event. Of the many wireless/mobile conferences in the U.S., I highly recommend you check out CTIA in the future if you have never attended before.

I first went to CTIA in 2007 when we were in our early stages of developing our Text-to-Talk products. My focus when attending CTIA that first time was to meet with all the major Short Messaging Service Center (SMSC) providers like Click-a-Tell, Sybase 365, VeriSign, etc. in order to establish SMS Points of Presence in the different countries we were targeting for these products.

While at the 2007 CTIA conference, I couldn’t help but be distracted by what was then a plethora of new mobile technologies. I’m referring to smart phones, mobile TV, voice-mail to text services, GPS, etc. Now, only two years later, we have 3G technologies, 4G and LTE networks are being engineered, and the end-all be-all game changer the Apple iPhone now exists and in my opinion is the ultimate Unified Communication tool for the consumer.

Given the poor economic climate we are currently in, the telecom industry has been no stranger to numerous layoffs, cutbacks, and even some Chapter 11s. So, as I prepare for CTIA tomorrow I’m trying to remain optimistic about the new technologies and services that the mobile operators and MVNOs will unveil. I suspect this industry to be focused more on providing value and savings to the consumer versus new and innovative services. In recent months numerous MVNOs have begun offering unlimited calling plans and they are in a fast paced race to gain market share. Reducing customer churn is also high on the priority list for all mobile operators and MVNOs right now.

In late February ‘09, Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOM assembled a Wireless Scorecard based on Q4 ’08 statistics from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Based on Stacey’s breakdown she concludes that cheap rate plans win and that the iPhone is helping to keep AT&T running strong. To note, these numbers were released just prior to Sprint and T-Mobile releasing their $50 unlimited prepaid plans so this year’s Q1 numbers should answer whether those plans proved successful or not.

Tomorrow I’ll have a better since of what’s happening and how the carriers are responding. I remain optimistic and look forward to CTIA ’09 along with the other 1,000 attendees that I’ll be sharing the conference floor with.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Meet In the Middle and Transact

February 4th, 2009

An article this morning on mobile commerce - “Survey Says: Retailers Need to Go Mobile” - referenced a recent survey conducted by Foresee Results that reported nearly a third of online shoppers said they used their mobile phone as part of their regular shopping trip.  Whether used for calling or texting a friend for advice prior to making a purchase, or for taking a picture of a product with their mobile phone and sending it to themselves to look at it later from home, the mobile phone has become an important tool that consumers use when making purchase decisions. The article went on to explain the need for brick-and-mortar retailers to consider developing and offering mobile applications to their customers in hopes of increasing their sales numbers.

The article concluded by asking its readers, “How else do you think brick-and-mortar retailers could appeal to mobile-enabled shoppers?”

I’m a huge fan of mobile applications and I use my mobile for anything and everything that I can.

At NetworkIP and Jaduka, we have long envisaged that consumers who buy products and services at brick-and-mortar retail outlets will migrate to buying through their mobile phones and hand-held devices. That’s why NetworkIP and Jaduka have deployed a robust, global transaction processing platform that brands can use to engage with their customers both online and offline.

Our platform affords consumers four unique options for purchasing product, activating products, and even renewing existing product subscriptions: via the web, through traditional voice applications (using both automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions and traditional customer service), through mobile devices and via over 500,000 retail outlets equipped with Point of Sale (POS) capabilities.

Hunter Newby of Internet Telephony Magazine described our platform as “a virtual real estate for a giant digital Wal-Mart!…an IP version of a free-trade zone allowing multiple parties to virtually meet in the middle and transact.”

We agree, and the future, is, indeed, exciting!

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka