The Future of Telcos

It’s not the best time to be a telco. Large incumbents face rising debt; more traffic but less revenue for it; the need to roll out high-speed broadband while also cutting costs; and competition from dozens of new altnets as well as from OTT players. And some, like BT, are grappling with previously unseen issues such as class-action lawsuits.

Life isn’t much better for many of the smaller players: finance is drying up; competition is increasing; and some consolidation efforts have been thwarted by regulators.

How are telcos coping with these challenges? Will AI help? Should others follow EE’s example and start selling white goods? Should the role of the regulator be reviewed? And, actually, what is a telco these days, anyway?

With this event, WiTT is going back to its roots to look at the current state of telecom infrastructure and services and likely futures.

Our panel will be chaired by Annette Nabavi, Non-Executive Director, iomart Group plc; Eleco plc; and WiTT. Our speakers will be:

  • Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst, Service Provider Enterprise, Omdia;
  • Gabriela Styf Sjoman, Managing Director of Research and Networks Strategy at BT Group;
  • Romy Thorpe, Chief Operating Officer, Spring Fibre; and
  • Kimberly Wells, Partner, Bird & Bird.

The event will be held at Bird & Bird’s offices at 12 New Fetter Lane, London. The evening will begin at 6:00pm with networking. The panel will run from 6:30 to 7:30, including Q&A. We’ll then have further networking. This event will also be hosted on Zoom. We’ll open the Zoom call at 6:25pm.

Please email if you have any questions. Please use this link to register:

WiTT would like to thank Bird & Bird for hosting us again.

We look forward to seeing you on October 14th!

The WiTT Board

Annette, Audrey, Helen, Michelle and Yasmeen

Chair and Panelist biographies


Panel Chair

Annette Nabavi
AHV Associates / Anchusa Consulting / iomart plc / Elect plc

Annette has a broad range of public and private board experience and currently holds a number of Directorships. She is a Non-Executive Director on the board of iomart plc, an AIM listed cloud services business. She serves as the Chairman of iomart’s Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Audit Committee. She is also a Non-Executive Director on the board of Eleco plc, an AIM listed construction industry software company, where she chairs the Remuneration Committee and acts as the Senior Independent Director. She was on the Advisory Board of the National Media Museum, part of the Science Museum Group for 10 years, and also served as a Non-Executive Director on the board of Maintel Group plc for 7 years. She is a Director of Women in Telecoms and Technology (WiTT) Ltd.

Annette previously held the position of Head of Telecoms Global Business Development for Corporate Finance at ING Barings where she gained significant experience in M&A, private equity, structured debt and public equity transactions.

She later became the founding director and CEO of XchangePoint Holdings Ltd, a Venture Capital backed Internet Interconnect company providing broadband metro peering services to ISPs and carriers. Annette was responsible for tripling revenues every year for 3 years, and grew the customer base to over 100 customers while expanding the company into Germany. She successfully achieved two rounds of VC financing.
Her early years were spent with the PA Consulting Group where she specialized in strategic partnerships, business planning and marketing strategy. She became a Senior Partner with PA before moving to Barings.

Annette holds an MA from Oxford University and a Doctorate from the University of Dijon.



Camille MendlerCamille Mendler
Chief Analyst, Service Provider Enterprise

Camille Mendler has more than 25 years’ multi-disciplinary experience in the digital economy and a global remit to anticipate key shifts in B2B demand patterns with a current focus on how 5G is disrupting enterprise ecosystems.

Her consultancy projects solve go-to-market challenges: identifying buyer segments, creating effective value propositions, and determining sales channel mix. Areas of expertise include managed and professional services, cloud and SaaS, and private networks.

During her tenure at Omdia, Camille has launched SoHo and SME and Enterprise Verticals intelligence services. She serves as a judge for the GSMA’s GLOMO Awards and TM Forum’s Excellence Awards.

Camille has advised organizations including the International Telecommunications Union, Open Society Foundations and World Bank. She has also worked as a telecom contract negotiator, expert witness in dark fiber matters, and technology journalist.

Camille won a research fellowship in Russian Area Studies from Georgetown University and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Russian from Northwestern University.


Gabriela Styf Sjöman
Managing Director, Research and Network Strategy at BT Group

Gabriela is a global executive with extensive international business experience in the Telecom & IT industry. She has held positions across Strategy, Technology and Business in various multinational organizations, living in twelve countries across three continents.

Gabriela is currently the Managing Director, Research and Network Strategy at BT Group, overseeing the functions of Strategy, Network Modelling, Standards, Strategic Programs, and Research. In addition, she serves as Board Member of TDC Net, the leading Danish Network Service Provider, and as Board Member of GLEIF, a Swiss foundation established by the G-20 Financial Stability board to increase transparency in financial markets.

Gabriela has held various executive positions such as Chief Strategy Officer at Nokia, Deputy COO and VP Head of Network Services at Telia Company, VP Head of Networks and TI Labs at Telecom Italia, numerous positions at Ericsson spanning across Technology and Business, as well as in start-ups.

She holds a dipl. in Power Engineering from Sweden, a Master in Business Administration from University of Durham, UK, and a Master in International Affairs with specialism in Cybersecurity, Espoinage and Intelligence from King’s College London, UK.


Romy Thorpe
COO, Spring Fibre

Romy Thorpe assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer of Spring Fibre on 1st February 2024, where she is accountable for Design, Build, Partner Management, Operations & Customer Service. Spring Fibre, an altnet HQ’d in Reading is extending it’s network reach to bring ultrafast broadband to those parts of the country where it is needed most.

Romy has extensive experience in the Telecoms industry underpinned by senior leadership roles in Vodafone, CWW and Thus. She has an impressive resumé of delivering quality service optimally and efficiently, whilst positively transforming the customer experience.

She turned around the Vodafone Carrier Services business in the UK, achieving in 18 months what was deemed impossible in the preceding 3 years and transformed the operational and service aspects of CWW’s UK enterprise business; dramatically improving customer experience and reducing costs by 25% resulting in a 12% YoY GM organic growth.

Romy started her career in telecoms as PA to the CEO & Chairman of ScottishTelecom (latterly rebranded Thus) and found this to be a fantastic springboard into the roles she went on to fulfil.


Kimberly Wells
Partner, Bird & Bird

I’m an experienced technology and communications lawyer, advising on complex, strategic technology and communications projects for clients operating in a variety of sectors.

My expertise and interest lies in advising businesses being transformed or disrupted by technology.

Since joining the firm in 2012, I have advised on a range of technology and communications projects from network infrastructure arrangements to technology transformation projects. I work with clients (ranging from start-ups to multi-nationals) operating in a variety of sectors, including aviation, financial services, media, retail, technology and telecommunications.

I work closely with my clients’ legal, IS and procurement teams at each stage of the project lifecycle, from initial tender and vendor selection through to contract conclusion and beyond, including contract operation, change and exit.

I support my clients not only with core legal advice, but also with more strategic thinking. This ensures that I am aligned with my clients’ goals and longer term strategy, which has resulted in a series of rewarding, long term working relationships which is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role.

In addition to complex large scale projects, I have over ten years’ experience in advising on software licensing, development and support agreements, SaaS and cloud based arrangements, framework agreements, IP licences and collaboration agreements and network services arrangements (such as capacity and dark fibre agreements).

I am an active member of the firm’s technoglogy and communications sector group and participate in industry led events so that I am positioned to offer insight to my clients on the opportunities and challenges presented by emerging and disruptive technologies. I regularly present on legal and commercial issues arising from technologies such as AI, 5G and the IoT. I really enjoy working in such an innovative and forward looking field.

During my career, I have worked on secondment including 6 months supporting a major technology separation and integration project. I have also spent over a year on secondment to an Australian firm, where I advised on a range of technology and communications projects, including relating to Australia’s national broadband rollout.