Analysts at the IBM Institute for Business Value argue that some form of functional or structural separation offers the highest revenue growth potential for telcos in the developed world, with the highest returns from structurally-separated operations where network services are spun off into a wholly-separate company, and all retail providers buy services from the wholesale entity.

The worst returns come from a strategy of sticking with the closed, voice-centric model, with better returns if operators are able to partner with device, application and infrastructure providers to create new services.

But operators do best where they separate their network service operations from retail operations, either to allow retail units to concentrate on vertical markets and customer segments, or by a more-robust effort to attract third parties to use the network resources.

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