Broadband World Forum Summary Day 2: The Yawning Gap between Operations and Suppliers Continues

The vendor keynotes on Day 2 of the Broadband World Forum were again rather dry and focused on why operators should buy more complex networks.  A common vendor claim was that a 10% increase in broadband connectivity results in some % increase in GDP (Gross Domestic Product).  I have a sneaking feeling that there is some confusion on cause and effect, that is “correlation does not equal causality”.  The focus was again LTE, policy, QoS, SLAs, M2M, Cloud, ‘smart this and intelligent that’.  Repeating the IMS brow beating of operators.

The second half of the keynotes were again much more interesting.  The CEO of Etihad (innovative airline) explained their use of ‘broadband’ which was really IT, this demonstrated how enterprise customers use ‘broadband.’  It’s not ‘broadband’ they use, its IT they use to solve business problems and deliver value to customers.  Hence the need for operators to get more focused on IT services if they want to be relevant in enterprise services beyond transport.  Olivier Baujard gave another good presentation that echoed Matthias Linder’s presentation from Day 1 on the importance of convergence in saving costs.  90% of broadband use is at the home or work, where it can go over the fixed (WiFi) network instead of the mobile network.  Olivier shared how they’d influenced customer behavior through incentives to use WiFi when available.  In my experience the device always defaults to WiFi whenever its available as the performance is better and its cheaper.  Olivier was crystal clear, the focus is COST.  BT given its situation of no mobile arm, Openreach, limited TV opportunities focused on FTTC (VDSL), targeting 80% of broadband users with VDSL.  And claimed through the enhanced frequency plan, vectoring and bonding they will be able to squeeze 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps in return out of VDSL (though the % coverage at that rate was not mentioned.)

In the afternoon cloud session Verizon Business (VZB) described its cloud offer focused on business problems NOT technology.  VZB clearly understands the market, technology is not the issue, it’s about delivering business solutions in a heterogeneous environment.  Business SLAs (Service Level Agreement) are key, not transport SLAs.  Verizon Business is clearly head and shoulders above other national telcos who showed they continue to struggle in understanding the needs of the enterprise market.  Interestingly several operators talked about their cloud based IP centrex and unified communications and collaboration solutions, which were not based on IMS.

Sean O’Sullivan of Dial2do (last year’s winner of the best new service at the InfoVision Awards) gave an excellent presentation on the evolution of their business as a cloud based voice VAS provider.  Their focus is simplicity for the customer and communication enabled business processes.

Xipeng Xiao of Huawei gave a good presentation that stirred up the CDN (Content Delivery Networks) session with a very accurate piece of work on the limited opportunities for making money in CDNs, e.g. Akamai’s global business is only $1B, across the 71 countries they operate that’s only $15M per country.  This caused the operators to get on the defensive and give examples of how they make money using CDNs to optimize traffic across their networks.  Which was exactly Xipeng Xiao’s point, the money is in network efficiencies not charging people.

And finally some of the BBWF InfoVision Awards 2011 of note included:

  • Best New Service award went to YTL Communications with Yes 4G.  YTL Communications’ Yes 4G network provides access through a ‘Yes ID’ rather than a SIM card. Multiple devices are able to log on to the network using the same Yes ID, which has a Malaysian mobile number associated with it.  A simple service that meets customers’ needs and should be much more widely deployed.
  • Content, Entertainment, Applications and Services went to Huawei IPTV.  Huawei’s MediaCloud On-Demand Platform optimizes multi-screen video delivery and smoothly integrates telecommunications, broadcasting and Internet services enabling telcos and MSOs to deliver new experiences and capture new revenues by providing their customers with interactive multi-screen services, delivered through a variety of channels.
  • Broadband Home: Appliances, Devices, Home Networks & Services went to PCCW Media Limited – Stargazr.  The PCCW Media Stargazr IPTV user interface integrates program listings, on-demand videos, interactive services and personalization streamlining the TV experience with an easy-to-use remote control and onscreen interface.
  • Broadband Access Network Technologies and Services (Fixed) went to ASSIA DSL Expresse.  ASSIA’s DSL Expresse software optimizes the operating parameters for each DSL line and provides detailed line-level and network-level diagnostics for both the copper plant and DSL service.  As operators sweat their DSL assets, DSL performance will sweat, and this provides the tools to manage the problems many DSL operators will face to limit the amount of copper rehab required, one of the nasty hidden costs in VDSL deployments at scale.