Telecoms Trailblazers: A Day in the Life of Sam Samuel

The latest in the Telecoms Trailblazers series

Sam Samuel Trailblazer Graphic

Hello, I am Sam Samuel, the co-founder of 4MC Partners, a technology strategy and advisory firm advising telecoms and cloud computing organisations. There are four of us in the team: after collectively being made redundant last year, we retired for a month or so and then put our experiences to good use. “CTO” is the best way to describe my role. 

Our work focuses on understanding how companies can leverage new technologies in their business context. There are a lot of challenges in the telecoms market. We currently have four mobile operators in the UK, but a proposed merger could reduce this to three. Growing the average revenue per user has proven to be very difficult and introducing a new generation of mobile technology no longer results in generating more income. 

What does this mean? To have competitive services, things need to change for both the customer and the provider. There needs to be a transformation in the telecoms industry. 

AI could play a role here and is a crucial part of our work. AI is brought up in almost every meeting, but there is still a lot of mystery around the technology. Do we need it? Or are we motivated by a fear of missing out? We help to answer these “why” questions, and then facilitate the “how” too, implementing the technology into networks. 

I am also a member of UKTIN’s Core Networking Expert Working Group. Aligned with established technology and market trends, the group is committed to identifying emerging challenges and opportunities for further building UK capability, addressing the key issues and answering questions. I feel honoured to be a part of this much-needed work. 

1/ What do you enjoy most about working in this space? 

The people I work with. I'm very privileged to work with three other people who are very complementary to my own personality and intellectual makeup. And then, of course, I enjoy the interaction with customers. That's always fun. I feel almost like a detective, always trying to get to the bottom of something.

2/ What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of work?

Early in my career, we were trying to install GPRS into a Formula One racing car. Only we didn’t fully understand the composition of a racing car and suggested using a rather large box and placing it in the nose of the car. The driver said, “No, no, you’re not putting that into the car…it will make driving it [the car] crap … ” and suggested we use a smaller box anywhere but in the nose of the car.  Some time later we had a much smaller solution in a much smaller box,  eventually managing  to squeeze it under the driver's seat (much to the relief of the driver). There was a problem that needed to be solved and we only did this by listening to and working with the client.

3/ What excites you most about working in telecoms?

The application of new technology. Telecoms is our glue: we will always need to communicate.

4/ What would you like people to know about your work?

My work makes the customer successful. Fundamentally, I am in business because I want to make people successful. That is the bottom line. Oh, and I am a tech geek!

5/ ​​Why is a vibrant, flourishing telecoms ecosystem important for the UK?

Why is oxygen important?! It is critical. We will not innovate quickly enough to compete globally without an ecosystem. A country can only compete by being smarter than the competition and producing products that are better than anyone else's. Unfortunately, it is a race. We need to innovate at a better pace and telecoms allows us to do that. 

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