CXTech Week 8 2021 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 8 2021 newsletter is to highlight, with commentary, some of the news stories in CXTech this week. What is CXTech?  The C stands for Connectivity, Communications, Collaboration, Conversation, Customer; X for Experience because that’s what matters; and Tech because the focus is enablers.

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The Future of Simwood

This is an excellent, accurate, and honest review of the PSTN voice market.

Picking up on some of the juicy quotes:

Wholesale voice is a tough market and has got tougher. It’ll get tougher still and quite possibly won’t exist in 25 years time. We’ve rolled with that, making incremental changes with mixed response along the way. In a market where the volume of minutes falls every year, and where the price at wholesale has been driven down every year (more by regulation than competition) we’ve done well to grow as we have.”

Simon Woodhead, CEO Simwood

The Web dominates my communications today. Dominique Hazael-Massieux, W3C, will be presenting at TADSummit Asia in May 2021 on “Web is Communications”. I still use a bicycle (on the weekends to bike down to the diner for breakfast), still walk to the shops (especially when it’s snowy or a lovely sunny day).

How is this trivia relevant? Legacy transportation doesn’t go away, it has a role, albeit more limited than during its heyday. SS7 is still in use today, and I bet still in 2030. I think wholesale voice will be around in 25+ years, but it’s not a viable business for a technology company like Simwood. Its rolling up into global aggregators, as we saw with the latest Sinch acquisition of Inteliquent in CXTech Week 7 2021.

“The writing was on the wall in 2014 when Ofcom took away 86% of our income on incoming calls, whilst simultaneously letting BT recover its own inefficiency by increasing rates on the buy side. We’ve responded and thrived since then but one reality that showed was we had to be vertically integrated.”

Simon Woodhead, CEO Simwood

With the acquisitions of Sipcentric in 2019, they launched Simwood Partner, an enterprise voice solution including PBX. Given the above shift, VAS (Value Added Services) is where the margin now resides.

Simon then looks to the future – on the need for the Simwood ecosystem to work together in raising their combined profile, a sort of ‘Simwood-inside’ approach. He also highlights the importance of the network they’ve built, differentiating from those reliant on BT. Even with a tough market, there’s opportunity through technology leadership, customer focus, vertical integration, and built on a differentiated and owned network (back to Simon’s core principle of extreme ownership).

This reminds me of the lastest Benedict Evans “The Great Unbundling” where everyone now wants to go direct to the customer (Disney+, Telsa, Netflix). Manufacturing the product, as well as delivering it directly to the customer, and keeping all the data within their business. Simwood presents a regional example of this approach within it’s focused offer.

Check out Simon’s comments from TADSummit EMEA / Americas 2020 on serverless in real time communications in understanding his networks’ data with Google’s BigQuery. There is a counteracting force on vertical integration: span of control; which I discussed in this article on a Simple Programmable Communications Model. Though geography, history, business focus, etc. impact how span of control impacts a business. Simply, a more focused product offer enables greater vertical integration.

FOSDEM Review

Here are a few of the presentations I recommend from FOSDEM.

FOSDEM: Can WebRTC help musicians? by Lorenzo Miniero

Music is one of the areas where WebRTC could do so much more. Since the pandemic started, musicians all over the world were affected in different ways: no more concerts, or meeting the fans, or jam session, and so on and so forth, basically making it much harder for them to earn a living; the same could be said for those who simply love to listen to music, attend concerts and engage with musicians. What can WebRTC do to help, and what are the technical challenges that may need to be overcome?

The presentation covers a few different use cases, ranging from plain streaming/broadcasting (and how WebRTC audio could be improved), tinkering with remote music equipment, playing with friends online and so on.

I was interested because online music lessons suck due to a range of issues including: lag, mic issues, truly awful audio, and a host of usability and technology problems. Music teachers and their pupils are not geeks. If fault finding is required, then the game is already lost.

The above ‘may’ be the ugliest diagram, but it’s the most spot on! After listening to Lorenzo I did some experiments. I did a Zoom test between chromebooks, and app / browser on Macs. The school chromebooks are terribly underpowered for Zoom, the school VPN introduces lag, and the browsers are messing with audio, as Lorenzo mentioned.

School music lessons using the school provided chromebooks over the school VPN is a technology tower dedicated to destroying music collaboration. I need to think more about the practicalities for making a recipe that works within the real world. We really should be able to support virtual music lessons in 2021 with WebRTC, with a plug and play approach for music teachers and their students.

FOSDEM: Why WebRTC is the way it is. A personal history by Tim Panton

An excellent review that frankly captures why WebRTC leaves many web developers going WTF. A series of logical decisions and compromises across all the parties involved in its standardization. 

I witness the WTF reaction regularly through TADHack and with many developers that reach out to me through the year. I’ve quoted hackers who work with complex technologies such as Blockchain and Ethereum who find WebRTC ‘quite’ difficult. And Tim really does capture the “why WebRTC is way it is.” 🙂

FOSDEM: WebRTC shouldn’t be this hard! by Sean DuBois

Sean provides a nice answer to the situation described in Tim’s presentation. Asking the question, how can we make WebRTC easier for the next generation?

Sean captures the web dev’s stumbling blocks nicely. He echo’s an idea raised by Dan Jenkins at the end of his presentation at TADSummit EMEA Americas last year in the need for a supportive impartial community. As well as highlighting PION: an open source stack for RTC with Go implementations of WebRTC, TURN, DTLS, etc.

FOSDEM: Building a greener web. Patterns and tooling for carbon aware web performance by Chris Adams

There are loads of insightful presentations across FOSDEM, it really is worth your time. One that got me thinking was “Building a Greener Web” by Chris Adams. It also got me checking out my webpages with climateaction.tech, and realizing I’ve got work to do!

The core idea is GOLD: Green, Open, Lean, Decentralised (GOLD). A way to thinking about decarbonising the web with performance in mind. I show this website’s rating, some of my others are not as good 🙁

How Well is 5G Shaping Up? by William Webb

In Summary:

Parameter4G delivered over 3G5G might deliver over 4G
Mobile data volumes3x3x
Connected devices100x1x
Latency2.5xUnclear, up to 5x possible
Effective data rate10x5x
Battery life for low power1000x1x
Energy reduction / bit1.5x1.3x

5G is a long way from delivering on the original promises.
4G was actually more revolutionary than 5G.

All of the above is not news to me. A tagline I use is ‘4G is good enough’ from a consumer perspective. 5G is more for network operators, manage growth, and a few enterprise use cases. Most use cases work over 4G fine. The current 5G delusion, is as great as the digital transformation delusion, and distracts telcos from their receding relevance in communications. The long slow march towards a utility internet access provider.

Twilio Q4 revenue surges 65% to $548 million, on back of SMS

Political Ads and Segment added $23M each. I was fortunate to miss the political SMS and people coming door to door last year. Likely with NJ being a blue state meant resources were spent in states where the race is closer. Segment is showing impressive growth with a $23M Q4.

RingCentral Q4 up 31% to $335M, $1.2B for 2020

Channel and partners Avaya, AT&T, and Atos, drove growth. With their projection for 2021 in the range of $1.475-$1.490 billion, an annual growth of 25% to 26%.

More Messaging Consolidation: Kaleyra acquires mGage for $215M

mGage serves its customers through its cloud-based enterprise mobile messaging platform Communicate Pro, their API solution Connect, providing omnichannel mobile messaging across SMS, MMS and RCS.

In 2021 Kaleyra and mGage will process over 50 billion transactions worldwide, with approximately 31% of revenue coming from North America, over 30% coming from Europe and the remainder evenly split between APAC and Latin America.

The acquisition also moves Kalyera more broadly across both public and private CPaaS, as presented at TADSummit Americas 2019 by Terry Hsiao from Kaleyra where the focus was more private.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Ben Levy is now Senior Vice President Of Engineering at Enghouse Interactive. I’ve known Ben since APEX Communications, which was bought by Dialogic, and Enghouse bought Dialogic.

Anthony Rus is now CEO at Splin, previously with TeleSign and BICS.

Tsvetanka Dimitrova is now a Marketing Expert at Cobuilder, who I’ve known since her time at Zoiper.

Yvan Delegue is now Deputy Innovation Director at Orange Middle East Africa. I’ve known him since 2014 when I was trying to get Orange involved in TADHack.

Michael Sisselman is now Director, Value Realization Services at NICE. We’ve known each other for about 20 years!

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