The Rainbow of Programmable Telecoms

Programmable TelecomsIts been a busy summer across preparations for TADHack Global, TADSummit and the day job of helping people around the world build new businesses and services in programmable telecoms. Plus here in the US with the long summer holidays a succession of camps and baby sitters to keep the kids occupied and not watching TV or playing games on their tablets! We’ve even been luckier than most with the weather in NYC, its been cooler and wetter than usual. Little need to water to garden, and the mornings start with the windows open and the cool air filling the home. Its even been a quiet year for cicadas, there’s barely a whimper now. While others have not been so lucky with the weather, Southern Europe was hit with a nasty heat wave a few weeks ago, and major flooding across many parts of the world. My point in mentioning this is to highlight though the world’s climate is rapidly getting warmer because of man made fossil fuel use, the weather we experience in any location shows much greater variations, a rainbow of weather, please excuse the pun.

Linking back to programmable telecoms, the clear trend is its rising adoption. CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service) being the cheerleader with 50% pa growth. Vonage’s acquisition of Nexmo is now clearly proving to be a wise and well-timed move. And critically there is a broad rainbow of technologies and business models being adopted by lots of different businesses. Its not just telecom APIs, don’t let the BABS hype fool you. There are many innovative companies from a few $millions, through $10s to $100s of millions, with even a few in the $billions, innovating in programmable telecoms. Here are a few examples:

  • Open source telecoms continues its rise.  Free Switch just wrapped up its largest annual Cluecon event yet, Telestax just raised $4.7M in funding, I see weekly Kamailio VoLTE/IMS/NGN announcements from Carsten of ng-voice, the rapid rise of the decentralized web, etc. This is changing the cost basis of many service providers, by using software built for the cloud that works at scale. Today, its mainly innovative enterprise-focused service providers, xVNOs (x = mobile / fixed / converged Virtual Network Operator), and small/medium sized telcos. However, the trend is clear, most telcos have adopted open source telecom software, and are broadening its deployment across core revenue services.
  • Services are promoting APIs, for example Vidyo (TADHack Global sponsor), Ring Central, Zoom, etc. Businesses want solutions to problems. They generally adopt services and configure to their needs, and then use APIs/SDKs/apps as their experience and confidence grows to embed the services into their businesses. This is an early trend, but will be a path to mass-market programmable telecom adoption.
  • More and more services are being built on APIs / open source; we’re seeing a rapid rise of innovative service providers: MetTel, Ipitimi, Groupama, Inteliwise, Voxist, Vocaly, immmr, ottspott, Roger Voice, check out the draft TADSummit agenda to see many success cases.
  • WebRTC continues its slow climb in adoption; as part of a platform (e.g. Temasys), as a pure-play browser-based services, and everything in between – because its just a technology.
  • CPaaS – the focus is Telecom APIs, but there’s so much more going on as discussed here in the consolidation being led by Tyntec and CLX. And with many new providers from Apifonica (new sponsor of TADHack Global and TADSummit), RestcommOne from Telestax (founding TADS sponsor), and more to be announced soon. CPaaS is incredibly busy, business models are changing and its getting much more enterprise customer focused.

While the large traditional telcos adapt through: consolidation; moving into video content (e.g. AT&T and Time Warner (HBO), PayTV is also undergoing significant consumption changes that Time Warner is navigating better than most); laggard thinking on RCS (check out some of the presentations at TADSummit to better understand the potential of RCS); and running around in circles on virtualization. I’m not going to rant about the NFV silliness, the bottom line is its not going to save much money and its not going to help with digital transformation (whatever digital transformation means). The ISP business is reaching peak in most developed countries, though in the US the lack of access competition and a perplexing FCC will likely mean prices continue to rise making the US in time even more expensive than Australia for internet access – now that’s saying something!

But for most other telcos, they need services. Costs will slowly wind down, there’s still fat on the bones, but new revenues are required to maintain total revenues. And this is were amazing ecosystems of companies are innovating in programmable telecoms, as described above. You’ll meet them at TADSummit. Not at MWC where they are lost in the noise as they are generally not working on sexy AI, 5G, AR, VR, connected car, and other face-palming technologies. Its really boring stuff of embedding telecoms everywhere and solving real business problems for which enterprises will pay; this is where the money is for boring businesses. Ignore the investor and BABS hype, focus on the stuff solving todays’ problems that needs help to scale nationally or globally – this is a focus of TADSummit. That’s where the money is, not chasing butterflies.

1 thought on “The Rainbow of Programmable Telecoms

  1. Jose

    Good call to action: forget the buzz of the year, go solve customer’s problems. Easier said than done for telcos.
    Hard to believe that we were ignored while working on what is now a super sexy field: conversational commerce, chat-based business models. A few years ago those ideas were not even worth a laugh for most so called experts.
    But TADSummit attendants were receiving those insights directly from the source.
    Instead of following the VC trend of the month (it has not ended well usually), investing on a trial or pilot (not for free, please) on any of the TADSummit ideas will provide much better return on investment.

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