The research, which was commissioned by software supplier Asera, found that telecoms firms are struggling to integrate sprawling IT systems because of a lack of capital and this was affecting their ability to service existing customers and to launch next-generation services such as 3G.
The researchers, who interviewed IT and technical directors and line-of-business personnel at fixed and mobile operators in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, found that an inability to invest in back-office systems meant customer information was buried on disparate legacy systems.
And operators planning 3G market pushes could not deal with customers or content providers.
Alan Pyne, a director at Schema, said, "We found that telecoms firms have issues providing for existing customers and problems making provision for complex value chains.
"We have found disparate legacy systems, especially in those which have seen a lot of merger and acquisition activity with billing and other systems often standing alone. All operators face these issues to some extent."
Pyne said contact centres are often used to compensate for failings in IT systems.
John Wright, communications director for the Communications Management Association and previously telecoms manager at Xerox Europe, said users needed to use spending power to get good service.
"Large firms can demand a dedicated account team. Many smaller companies don't think they have the muscle to demand account management but they should gain clear assurances about the servicing of their account before signing contracts," he said.