The purpose of this CXTech Week 5 2022 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.
You can sign up here to receive the CXTech News and Analysis by email. Please forward this on if you think someone should join the list. And please let me know any CXTech news I should include.
Covered this week:
- Subspace WebRTC-CDN Experiences. Where is Subspace taking us?
- CPaaS Evolves, the Convergence into Programmable Communications Continues
- RingCentral RISE (channel support), Replacing Cisco in Telcos for Enterprise Communications
- How Claude Shannon Helped Kick-start Machine Learning
- The lesson from 5G
- Job: Lead Open Source Developer, Jambonz and Dratchio
- People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff
This article reviews what Subspace WebRTC-CDN offers to WebRTC; developers’ hands-on experiences with Subspace at TADHack; and what WebRTC-CDN means to enterprise communications. I also want to give a shout out to WebRTC experts Philippe Sultan and Dan Jenkins; and Web developers Jared Ashcraft and David Sikes, for hacking on Subspace at TADHack.
Subspace WebRTC-CDN is a WebRTC delivery network. Backwards compatible with the TURN protocol, WebRTC-CDN handles traditional TURN NAT traversal functions as well as improving network performance for all WebRTC traffic with Subspace’s dedicated global fiber-optic network, which is ranked the #10 most interconnected network on the internet. WebRTC-CDN interacts with WebRTC applications operating like a single TURN instance, abstracting away 120+ physical points of presence worldwide to cut down call-setup times and reduce hair-pinning for deployments as large as 10Tbps.
CPaaS Evolves, the Convergence into Programmable Communications Continues
Unifonic did a brand update this week. Within the last year Unifonic raised $125M Series B funding round and had its fastest growth so far. Their rebranding focuses on customer communications (marketing and customer support), rather than the nuts and bolts of voice and SMS APIs. The line between CPaaS and CCaaS becomes ever blurred. Though for SMS access to the Saudi market they are a good first stop.
For Unifonic identity verification has risen in importance, along with supporting marketing and customer care workflows. Though, identity verification is its own industry as requirements evolve beyond 2FA into aggregating many sources of customer/device data and using machine learning to make fast and good-enough risk decisions. Another example of the blurring of what is considered ‘CPaaS’ offers.
Another CPaaS trend is the rise of chat commerce, here Clickatell has led the way for several years with Transact, being able to securely buy stuff in chat. As the nuts and bolts business becomes increasingly the domain of consolidators (e.g. Sinch). Smaller regional CPaaS focus where defensible margins remain. Generally further up the stack (identity, conversations, commerce), a regional focus (knowing the customers, their culture, and their industries), though remaining a one-stop-shop (SMS and voice API remain available to retain the customer, it’s just not where the margin resides). More blurring across what is considered CPaaS.
Twilo buying Boku, as reported in CXTech Week 3 2022, gave it a stronger play in identity (beyond 2FA) and brought in mobile / chat commerce. Given Twilio FLEX is 99% of a CCaaS, when are we going to finally stop calling Twilio a CPaaS? It’s all programmable communications, just different companies have different foci. Plus the technology and markets continue to evolve in response to each other. The term CPaaS is now quite passé.
I tried using the label CXTech, as explained at the start of this newsletter. But it’s not stuck beyond this newsletter 😉
I’ve mentioned before that RingCentral is replacing Cisco as the enterprise communications platform of choice for telcos, and also many legacy PBX vendors, e.g. ALE, Atos, Avaya, Mitel, AT&T, Telus, and Verizon. Generally its for large enterprise accounts, for SMB some telcos use open source, as we’ve reviewed at TADSummit over the years.
‘RISE’ stands for Resources, Innovation, Systems, and Experiences:
- Resources. A team supporting marketing, sales, professional services, and post-sales. Includes dedicated provisioning, activation, and logistics support (launch management) as well as upsell and adoption opportunities, e-commerce strategies, and post-launch campaigns. Help channel sell more.
- Innovation. Mashing up RingCentral’s platform with the service provider’s APIs.
- Systems. Service providers can integrate their systems with the RingCentral platform, e.g. provisioning or management integrated with other carrier services, e.g. SDWAN.
- Experiences. Integrated customer journey that spans marketing and pre-sales, go-to-market, and post-sales phases.
The collective experience RingCentral gains across all its channels helps their channels sell more. For example, highlighting an integration with a popular local marketing tool drives more A2P SMS traffic for all channels in the region.
Shannon is best known for establishing the field of information theory. In a 1948 paper, one of the greatest in the history of engineering, he came up with a way of measuring the information content of a signal and calculating the maximum rate at which information could be reliably transmitted over any sort of communication channel. The article, titled “A Mathematical Theory of Communication,” describes the basis for all modern communications.
Some will remember the equation below. Khan Academy has an excellent set of videos that cover this, modern information theory. If only such videos were available when I was studying.
But back to the thing I learned this week. In 1950 Shannon published an article in Scientific American and also a research paper describing how to program a computer to play chess. He went into detail on how to design a program for an actual computer. He discussed how data structures would be represented in memory, estimated how many bits of memory would be needed for the program, and broke the program down into things he called subprograms.
Shannon suggested it might be possible to improve his program by analyzing the games it had already played and adjusting the terms and coefficients in its heuristic evaluations of the strengths of board positions it had encountered. There were no computers readily available to Shannon at the time, so he couldn’t test his idea. But just five years later, in 1955, Arthur Samuel, an IBM engineer who had access to computers as they were being tested before being delivered to customers, was running a checkers-playing program that used Shannon’s exact method to improve its play. And in 1959 Samuel published a paper about it with “machine learning” in the title—the very first time that phrase appeared in print.
A lesson of the bleeding obvious! I’ve been pointing out 4G is good enough for years, the phallocentric 5G standard is not built for today’s reality. Ericsson and Nokia are showing good results as telcos are spending on 5G, like they spent on IMS in the past. Check out this work from 2011 that correctly predicted the roll-out of IMS. We could have done better than spending billions to only provide HD voice (available on 3G) and RCS, but the industry is highly concentrated in supply and complicit on the buy-side.
The few remaining telco network vendors make grand claims on what a new tech will deliver, remember how 3G would usher in double the voice revenue as many people would be paying double for longer 3G video calls. Fortunately, SMS and premium SMS unexpectedly exploded, and then 4G finally delivered an adequate mobile internet access.
And it’s not just 5G that’s being oversold. NFV (telco-special virtualization) ended up being an unsuccessful attempt to lower network costs. O-RAN is another NFV in the making. The concentration of supply in adequate radio equipment, the lack of adequate open layer 1 and 2 RAN ASICs and software, the lack of volume compared to WiFi. Talk to any CIO that’s implemented WiFi and 4G. WiFi is just like the rest of the LAN, relatively easy. 4G is complex with dedicated staff or expensive suppliers, and will remain niche as it solves specific problems faced by some industries.
5G private networks will follow the same path as private 4G, they have a role, but its niche as cellular coverage costs 4 times WiFi coverage (which every business must have), and DAS is 7 to 8 times the cost per square foot of WiFi. The world will be different when 6G arrives, but it’s unclear to me how the O-RAN vision will be fulfilled by the telco industry. Perhaps Google, Microsoft and Amazon will build vast country-wide neutral host networks? James Body’s MONEH vision finally realized in the 2030s 🙂
Time to stop looking in at the technology and start properly looking out at customers and their needs and motivations – it’s just connectivity! https://t.co/W9Ill90Rad— Chris Lewis (@Chr1sLew1s) February 2, 2022
- drachtio is the open source SIP server that is programmable using Node.js and makes it easy for web app developers to build sophisticated SIP server applications.
- jambonz is the open-source CPaaS that is designed for the needs of communication service providers.
The success of the these projects has enabled us to expand the team, and we are looking to hire an experienced lead developer (C/C++ and Node.js) to work on the core software, to support customer deployments and to take our success to the next level. This is a unique opportunity to join an early-stage open source company, work closely with the founder/creator of the software (that’s me – Dave Horton), and take over increasing responsibility for the future direction of the software while building yourself a sustainable career in the open source RTC community.
Please let people know about this amazing opportunity! Dave’s a great guy, the projects are revolutionizing programmable communications, and Jambonz will be sponsoring TADHack again in 2022.
People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff
Abhijeet Singh is now Product Management at Jumio (identity verification), and has relocated to Dublin.
Pasindu Jayawardene is now head of Products at Applova.
Christopher Isak is now Global Account Manager at GMS Global Media Services.
Amr Adel is now Senior Product Manager at Dsquares, we met when Cequens sponsored TADSummit.
Graham Bolton has an additional position of Company Owner at KobiComm. We’ve known each other for several decades…
Louis Lee is now Regional Manager Sales Engineering at Snowflake. I’ve known Louis since his time at Oracle.
Amit Bhayani is now Co-Founder, FlexifyMe. Amit was a co-founder of TeleStax bought by Maveir last year. FlexifyMe was co-founded with Manjeet Singh, we interviewed Manjeet at TADSummit Asia about his start-up Buddy4Study,
Yavar Rezavandi is now Sr. Product Manager B2B – Tribe Platform & Innovation at T-Mobile Nederland. We first met when Yavar was with Informa.
Dr. Farzaneh Gholamabolfazl is now Digital Transformation Chief Advisor at Parsian Data processing Holding at Parsian Data processing Holding.
Iyad Mallouh is now Director of Product Management at COFE App.