CXTech Week 18 2021 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 18 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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Covered this week:


Early on Thursday morning last week, Ravish Patel contacted me with an urgent request for a simple 2-way SMS service to help his local community access covid resources.

Ravish had just moved back to India with his family, after leaving TeleSign, as reported in CXTech Week 15 2021. TADHack regular and ‘hacks-in-his-sleep’ Sam Machin helped Ravish create COVID ASSIST SURAT. And in less than 24 hours it was live! The app even made it onto the Times of India.

The whole app follows a common recipe used at TADHack of Vonage APIs (Sam works for Vonage), Zapier platform, and Google sheets for the data backend. It’s great to see the TADS community having an impact.

TADSummit Asia 2021 Keynotes

TADSummit Asia 2021 kicked off on Monday this week. We have some excellent discussion on our two keynotes, check out the comments section in each weblog:

Accelerating Women Tech inclusion with effective usage of Telco API, by Sammani Kusaladharma, Specialist at Ideamart, Dialog Axiata.
* Where is your ‘Ideamart for Women’ program?

Mindful Connections, Sami Mäkeläinen, Telstra
* Make sure to follow Sami’s 3 steps to lessen the systemic failures being created by increasing coupling and interactions of communication systems.

The full TADSummit Asia 2021 Agenda is here: TADSummit has run since 2013, its an independent event with a no BS policy. You learn from unmatched insight and experience in programmable telecoms.

Tomorrow we’ll hear from Shona D’Arcy, Kids Speech Labs on ‘Voice technology for healthcare.’ An excellent introduction to the many uses of speech recognition in the Healthcare industry, which accounts for about half the voice technology investment.

BT and Verizon Revise their Media Plans

Verizon will sell Yahoo and AOL for $5B to Apollo Management. In a Linkedin post by Stéphane Maes, he asked rhetorically, “Anybody really surprised that Verizon couldn’t compete in that space?”

When they bought Yahoo ($4.5B) it was a bit of a cluster. They combined it with AOL ($4.4B) that also had its challenges. Even for a buyer solidly in the online advertising business, it was going to be a challenge. Add in telco culture and being a peripheral business that violated the privacy telecom customers expect from their telco. The result was a foregone conclusion. What I find surprising is Verizon continues with the same cadre of consultants around them that keep advising them to do fashionably wrong things.

Stéphane pointed out “mismanaged ambitions and understanding of the space…. It’s been a recurring problems for Telcos since the beginning of telco 2.0…”

From exactly one decade ago I wrote this piece on telco 2.0 ‘The Two Sided Business Model is Broken in Telecoms – It’s really the 1.005 sided Model.’

BT is reportedly exploring the sale of BT Sport, holding talks with Amazon, Disney and DAZN. While BT Sport “was initially pivotal to stabilising the consumer retail business,” it has in recent years “struggled to define its value” as rival Sky has switched to a less aggressive broadband strategy. BT Sport, and access to its football rights, was initially offered as a free add-on for BT Broadband subscribers at a time when BT was looking to re-establish itself as an ISP.

BT Sport’s direct base has declined from a peak of 3.5 million subscribers in 2016 to 1.6 million subscribers in 2021. This means BT is focusing on connectivity with Openreach and growing its retail business along with its mobile business EE. The need to bundle UK sports is no longer that important.

Even AT&T has struggled with the span of control issue between networks and media. The TV/Movie business is very different to the networks business. Though given that issue, HBO Max is now shoulder to shoulder with Netflix, but it’s a crowded market with Disney+, Peacock, Paramount, Apple TV Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, etc.

The synergy of owning the network, and owning one of many popular streaming services doesn’t seem as strong as it once was. BTW Amazon TV is my bypass for specific shows I’m happy to buy, rather than stump up for yet another monthly subscription.

I remember talking with friends in Netflix and Hulu over a decade ago, where they shared the need for them to create content. I was initially surprised, that was because I made a category error. I grouped them with PayTV operators, network businesses. They are not, streaming is a service over the internet (the network), streaming was a stepping stone to becoming content creators (where most of the value resides).

Netflix started as a video rental over the mail company, then migrated into a streaming company for studios, and finally when it had scale focused on the end game of original content creation, and aggregation for whoever wants to join their party.

Will AT&T follow BT and Verizon? I do not think so, it’s a conglomerate, rather than needing the media and network businesses to work together.

FluBot Android Malware Spreading Rapidly Through Europe, May Hit U.S. Soon

After a brief dip in activity in early March 2021, which is attributed to arrests made by Spanish authorities. The FluBot Android malware has picked back up, spreading throughout various countries in Europe via its SMS package delivery scheme.

Its latest victims include Android users in the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Spain, and it may be on the cusp of spreading among US users.

Proofpoint researchers have reverse engineered samples of FluBot versions 3.7 and 4.0 used with FedEx, DHL, and Correos lures and detail their findings in this article.

The Now and Next of Mobile Wallets

“How safe are mobile wallets?” Well outside North America mobile wallets are the default payment method. It’s not just WeChat in China, it’s also MoMo in South Africa, mPesa in Kenya, and as mentioned in my Keep an eye on Malaysia weblog, Boost. And as they grow in North America, they will become a target for fraud.

I’m a little surprised on the rapid wallet take-up and credit card decline shown in this article, see graph below. However, wallets will be increasingly targeted, and identity verification will be a core component of mobile wallets.

For example, Prove uses a unique real-time measure of phone number reputation—Prove Trust Score. It aims to trump fraudsters by leveraging identity verification and authentication purposes. Trust Score analyzes behavioral and Phone-Centric Identity signals from authoritative sources at the time of a potential transaction.

From May 2011: The Two Sided Business Model is Broken in Telecoms – It’s really the 1.005 sided Model

I know this article will surprise some people, ‘aren’t you a telco 2.0 guy?’, I think it’s because they assume people with British accents in telecoms must think alike 😉 Definitely Martin, Dean and I do not look alike.

I mention Dean, as I also get labelled as the anti-IMS guy, see this piece of work that accurately predicted the roll-out of IMS, though LTE was the main driver in the end.

We could have done much better than IMS as an industry. But it is what it is. The black and white thinking that plagues our industry means if you’re not an avid supporter you must be a detractor. I will put my hand up for the anti-GSMA guy for anything they do that is not spectrum related. They should have collaborated with the W3C over a decade ago.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Eric Burger is an Advisory Board Member at SS8 Networks.

Subash Mandanapu is now VP Technology and New Ventures at Marsh.

Fredrik Neumann is now Country Manager Business Development & Sales Nordics at FIS Worldpay at Worldpay.

Jason Noorman is now Chief Technology Officer at Allocated Bullion Exchange – ABX.

Gerry Christensen is now VP of Business Development and Sales at YouMail, in addition to his many other ventures.

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