SDP World Summit and Broadband World Forum

We’re reaching an interesting stage in operators’ attempts to remain relevant to customers beyond voice and internet access, which still remains a nice business, yet commoditization continues, albeit at a slower pace than most have predicted.  The slow pace shows the strength of state-granted duopolies / oligopolies.  Though we’re seeing a mounting chorus in the US against the AT&T / TMO (T-Mobile) merger and the effective duopoly it creates with Verizon.  Whether the chorus proves to be anything more than a topic of the political summer silly season or a real obstacle we’ll have to wait for the Autumn.  And boy, is this a political silly season!

But back to operators’ attempts to remain relevant to customers beyond voice and data.  The critical factors stopping the telco industry being successfully in extending its business are: an inability to act together (this is not collusion like in mobile data roaming charges or mobile termination rates, this is simply agreeing a common approach, terms and conditions, processes and guidance on what business model the customers/partners need); arrogance that drives operators to create ‘specials’ that have no relevance to their customers only to divide the industry; and most critically a ’50s hierarchical mindset were doing what the boss says (regardless of how dumb) matters more than want the customer wants.  I run a small business, and not focusing on what the customer wants means I do not have a business, for telcos that’s not the case given the momentum of the state-granted oligopoly.

So the time is slowly running out and operators appear institutionally incompetent in supporting the necessary change.  But there are glimmers of hope, as I’ve discussed several times in this weblog, BlueVia are doing the right things.  They’re not perfect, but their heart is in the right place, they are listening to developers / partners and trying their best to do what’s right.  At the SDP World Summit, Berlin 20th-22nd Sept, Jose Valles head of BlueVia will be there.  I strongly urge both operators and suppliers to take the time and meet with Jose at the event to understand how he’s managing the internal Telefonica machine to make things happen, his vision for BlueVia, the reality of what developer engagement has been achieved, what it took to get there, and what support systems were really required – BlueVia has taken a different approach to many operators in this space.  It may not be to the liking of suppliers, but in building a new business where the path is not yet clear, starting small and building momentum is key to success.  Build it and they will come only works when it’s a game changer business model that has the potential to revolutionize another industry – and we’re not talking about that.  There are many other telco figures at the event from Vodafone, Softbank, O2, Orange, Telenor, Deutsche Telekom, Mobily, STC, Oi, Telekom Serbia, etc. The event is important in enabling operators to share insights and experiences and move the industry forward rather than continuously circling,  BlueVia is leading the way, but it requires the coordinated action of the industry to be truly successful.

At the SDP World Summit the first day will be a WAC event.  WAC is important, as discussed in the MWC Summary of this weblog its lack of progress is a serious issue for the industry.  The event will be important for WAC in sharing with the industry what it has achieved, and what is going to be happening before the next MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Feb 2012 (the mobile industry has 7 more years of avoiding being mugged in Barcelona).  There will be sessions covering the current status of WAC, the role of WAC in a coordinated approach to identity (I wonder if the challenges of enum will be discussed?), and they have a developer panel (with real developers) to discuss the relevance or not of WAC to their business.  This has the potential to be a dynamic event, with some differences of opinion, which if aired and discussed can help move things forward towards real success, rather than the continued failure to launch.  Why WAC 3.0 is being discussed when most people aren’t even aware of WAC 1.0 shows there’s definitely some issues which need to be addressed.

On the first day of the main conference I’ll be chairing Stream B in the afternoon, Technology Know How Stream.  The first session is on API analysis where Sune Jakobsson from Telenor will be presenting their experiences, followed by a panel session with Sune, Jose Valles and Reinhard Kniebeiss from Qatar Telecom.  Telenor CPA and BlueVia are the two more successful operator API programs.  This panel is going to be fun, Sune and Jose are both straight talking individuals who’ve created success where others have failed.  It’s likely to be a stimulating panel, if a little uncomfortable for some, but the learning will be invaluable for building success in embedding telecoms across many ecosystems – the core purpose of APIs.  The second session of the afternoon focuses on service brokers, this is a largely ignored component, yet critical in most operators’ services layer as it enabled services to cross the legacy / IP divide, enabling legacy assets to be capped and replaced, and new services to be launched on cheaper open and standards-based infrastructure rather than some NEP (Network Equipment Provider) special.

I’m also given a presentation on M2M (Machine to Machine) in the other stream (looks like I’ll need Hermione’s Time Turner from Harry Potter) on “M2M market analysis – how the market has been changing and what can be expected over the coming 12 months” covering:

  • Recent market developments, leading operators and suppliers;
  • Will operators continue to develop their own service-management platforms (SMPs) or will they license them from 3rd parties? Benefits and drawbacks of each model; and
  • M2M case studies.

On the second day we start with an analyst briefing.  This was run at the IMS World Forum and proved quite successful.  It really ends up being a frank group discussion across operators and suppliers over breakfast, with an analyst in the middle being told they are wrong from both sides.  At the main conference I’ll be chairing the morning session.  We kick off with an analyst panel session on the future of the SDP, which will provide me with an opportunity for some analyst-baiting.  Though Mac Taylor who is on the panel is a good friend and he’s really an independent like myself.  We then have a number of operator case studies including Jose Valles’ presentation on BlueVia.  This is going to be an interesting morning, we’ve lacked as an industry a frank review point across the main suppliers and operators in this space; the SDP World Summit provides this much needed event so we can consolidate what we’ve learned and define the next steps required in building the API business and moving the operators’ services layers from the 1980s to the 2010s.

I’m running a post conference workshop on “Service Innovation: Service Delivery Platforms, APIs, Open Innovation. Application Stores, and Over The Top,” the Objectives of this workshop are to provide an understanding of:

  • The SDP landscape;
  • Where and why SDP deployments are working, examining the reality behind the hype;
  • The variety of SDP business cases;
  • The failures in operator’s ADCs (Application Developer Community – is an ADC even required?) and what are the keys to success based upon extensive application developer interviews and operator successes;
  • What application developers, businesses and content owners need from a Telco API and the Telco;
  • How the SDP enables an operator to innovate in services and business models faster, to fail more often, and hence discover success to remain relevant to customers;
  • What an operator needs to do given their specific local market conditions.

In between the SDP World Summit and the Broadband World Forum, Paris 27-29 September, I’m popping over to the UK as my sister is expecting her first child that weekend, so fingers crossed.  At least I’ll be able to off-load some of my little one’s baby clothes and toys :)

The Broadband World Forum is the main Broadband event of the year, it’s the fixed / converged operators’ version of the mobile world’s Mobile World Congress.  At the event are 10,000+ attendees, 300+ visionary speakers, and 215+ service provider case studies.  It’s become a who’s who of the broadband world that’s in its 11th year.  Some of the speakers include Eric Klinker CEO at BitTorrent; Kevin Lo, General Manager, Access at Google (it will be interesting to see how they’re doing in Kansas on the practical realities of deploying infrastructure);  Olivier Baujard, Chief Technology Officer, Deutsche Telekom Group (who gain the best presentation of the event last year); Jon Summers, Senior Vice President of Applications and Services at AT&T; and William Yeung CEO at HongKong Broadband.  The operator keynotes have proven to be a useful compass on the issues facing the industry, and quite often provide a stark contrast to the vendors’ rhetoric.  Let’s hope the vendor keynotes this time focus on moving the industry forward rather than fluff, silly framing and the classic FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).

The Broadband World Forum is packed with operator case studies from around the world and provide the ‘dose of salts’ necessary to focus on the simple practical operational and business challenges facing the industry.  I’ll be chairing Stream 1A on the first day (27th Sept), Deploying Next Generation Broadband.  As a Verizon FiOS customer with 25 Mbps symmetric access I only become aware of the internet when I travel, experiencing YouTube sputtering, emails downloading rather than appearing, waiting for websites, and cloud based applications circling while the cloud to responds.  It’s a shock, and reminds me of the days back in 2000 of using a dial-up modem at 33kbps in Europe (if I was lucky) to spend hours in the middle of the night downloading the latest version (working version) of a multimegabyte demo for the customer meeting later that morning.  That memory alone makes me love my 25 Mbps internet access.  The session will cover:

  • Deploying Next Generation Broadband-Strategies So Far…  Broadband & LTE Deployment Case Studies
  • Meeting Future Demand & Universal Access Targets
  • The Business Plan & Ensuring a ROI

The session will have case studies from Malin Frenning, President Broadband Services, TeliaSonera Group; Samer Salameh, Director General, Total Play, Mexico; Patrick Farajian, Chairman & CEO, Sodetel, Lebanon; Matthias Linder, CTO, Magyar Telekom, Hungary; Mohamed Osman Mohamed Ahmed, Data Services Manager, Marketing Department, Sudani, Sudan; Ermady Dahlan, Director of Consumer PT, Telkom Indonesia; Quiaque Lai Ni, CFO, Hong Kong Broadband Network (NiQ is always an entertaining speaker so I’m looking forward to that one).  The session is truly global, and provides the best way to gather the market’s current status, latest emerging trends, potential disruptors, industry gossip, and most importantly networking.  The Broadband World Forum covers the full gamut of Broadband Industry: xDSL, FTTx, LTE, 4G, business and operational support systems, IP, network management, policy, traffic management, regulation, services (enterprise, consumer, cloud, triple and quad play), broadband home, business cases and model, innovations, etc.

Let me know if you’re planning to attend either event, it would be great to catch up.