Tomorrow I’ll be presenting at the Illinois Institute of Technology Real-Time Communications Conference and Expo, its a collaborative event, where industry and academia connect. The presentation I’m giving is on ”The Winners and Losers in the move to Real-Time Cloud Communications,” shown below.
If you track my presentations on this topic, the new material focuses on 2 things.
- What we mean by the term Telecom App Developer;
- And how the telecom application developer ecosystem can evolve.
Telecom application developers range from the hard-core that can use ClearWater, Mobicents, OpenCloud, hSenid Mobile etc. for building core telecom infrastructure applications. This is essential to lower the cost of service operations to that of other providers like Whatsapp and Skype. A recent OpEd piece in TelecomTV “OTT is dead – long live the Telecom App Developer” explores this topic in a little more detail. Then there are developers building telecom services on platforms like Ameche and using APIs / web-scripting on OnMobile, Tropo, Twilio, APIdaze, RestComm, etc. With WebRTC extending the services out to any web-connected device.
All of these developers come from the IT/Web side, it’s just a matter of specialism. From the few thousand focused developers building the infrastructure applications to the tens of millions of developers – some like myself only capable of cut and paste programming but nonetheless building telecom apps. The stories of many of these developers are reviewed on this weblog, from operators like Algar Telecom and Orange Poland taking control of their future; through the many businesses running on telecom APIs; to the powerful web-scripting tools making cut and paste programming possible.
Cloud communication networks are immensely powerful platforms upon which businesses can run more efficiently and new services created that can make our lives easier and more fulfilling. The TADSummit is about recognizing all these developers, they may not all use the label telecom app developer, but they are increasingly using such capabilities. Recognizing this category of telecom application developers helps share experiences to build the ecosystem faster.
A common refrain from many who have been here before is the telcos are the gatekeeper, they will act as a barrier and stifle the ecosystem as in the past. But things have changed. The Telco is no longer the gatekeeper. 2600Hz, Aculab, Apidaze, Bandwidth, Plivo, Restcomm, TelAPI, Tropo, Twilio, etc. are building successful businesses working direct with developers, they do not need telcos. Also telcos are slightly more motivated than in the past at the CxO level, communication revenues are under threat if not in decline and this also drives focus. The app store is lost to Apple and Android, communication services is now the focus. If telcos can get it right, they can help grow the market faster and expand globally, but the other 2 actors are not wholly dependent on them. So of all the actors in this ecosystem telcos have the most to lose.
The presentation finished on a plug for the TADSummit which is focused on building the telecom application developer ecosystem using the TAD Manifesto to set out what is required and the TADS website to promote those building telecom application developer success, which we will be explored through the many case studies at the TADSummit, 21-22 November. And, just to mention, Huawei is the latest TADS sponsor!
“they do not need telcos”
What people are missing in this new “IP fabric”, is that balanced settlements, not bill and keep, are necessary to clear supply and demand both north-south between apps and infrastructure and east-west between networks or sp’s or apps or large private NOs. This belief in the simplicity of the settlement free exchange is flawed in the libertarian and liberal view of the internet; that it somehow “sprang” into existence. In addition to being a recipe for balkanization and disaster, bill and keep sustains monopoly, retards new service and infrastructure development, and, most importantly, prevents centralized procurement/subsidy of edge access. Indeed it is the “value at the core” that will drive growth in broadband ubiquitously, not uncoordinated every (average) person for themselves subscription.
The “internet” or web was a digital, horizontal, data driven bypass of the overpriced, analog, vertically integrated voice telecom stack beginning in the 1980s in the US as a result of divestiture and competitive horizontal forces which were unleashed after 1983. Helped along by regulation that prevented the monopoly last mile providers from “silo-ing” data markets in the 1980s-90s (Computer II), the markets scaled on expanded flat-rate dial-up (a monopoly response to the competitive WAN threat), something the rest of the world lacked.
Likewise, today’s fragile web 2.0 (broadband) and web 3.0 (7×24, mobile) rest on the lower layers of these telcos. They are indeed needed! The current policy and market failure is containing these transport and access networks in arbitrary and legacy geographic, market segment or application silos. This is the real travesty of 20th century policy and regulation post 1913. 100 years on its time to correct past mistakes but also recognize important network principles and theories learned or relearned from the voice, data and wireless digitization waves of the 1980s-90s, such as the network effect, which necessitates a balanced or bilateral (sometimes originating, sometimes terminating, sometimes both) settlement structure where transaction pricing reflects competitive marginal cost.
Tropo and Twilio and many others have a good business in communication enabled services. They do not need telcos to build their business, telcos are no longer the gatekeeper in value added communications services. That’s all that was meant.
We are in general agreement about the scaling of the upper layers, but only insofar as they are narrowband apps on relatively narrowband (sub 30 meg) infrastructures.
The separation or relevance between the two you speak to supports the notion that IP developed independently of the underlying transport architectures and pricing. Whereas in fact, they were and are indelibly linked. Flat-rate dial-up proved that in the 1990s (where the US had a significant lead over the rest of the world as a result) and then healthy, multi-mode broadband competition in the early 2000s the plans for which were drawn up in the late 1990s, led to the renaissance of Web 2.0 after the broadband dreams of web 1.0 crashed into the narrowband brick wall in 2000.
Looking forward, how do Twilio and Tropo sustain their business models without concerted investment in the lower layers on a global basis (be it wired or wireless)? They too scale from network effect, and if the supply of broadband is not even, their businesses will suffer. Much as Netflix is finding out in its international expansion.
I think we disagree on what is narrowband, 30 Mbit/s sounds like broadband to me, I go by the definition of narrowband <= 64kbps
IP was created in 1974, and the RFC for IPv4 was in 1981. I disagree that IP was indelibly linked with dial-up, I think that is being a tad revisionist. Where IP made its name was in the enterprise and happened well before dial-up modems went mainstream in the 90s. Most of my early experience with IP came from enterprise networks that interconnected over frame relay. I remember spending weeks trying to set up 2 Cisco routers over a frame relay link for a demo in the early 90s, arghhh! the memory is still painful.
The evolution of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 was in part the evolution of the web ecosystem, the processing power of PCs, and the availability of broadband initially in the office. I remember accessed the internet at work because it was better for a time than at home, and finally that changed as broadband became more available in the late 90s and early 00s.
Today Comcast takes $1k a year from me for fixed broadband. Tropo and Twilio pay operators for terminating calls. Verizon makes nearly $2.5k a year from me for mobile broadband. I think there is enough money flowing for a viable infrastructure business. The key is telcos need to avoid being raped and pillaged again by con-artists in the financial dis-services industry.