CXTech Week 14 2022 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 14 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.

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Covered this week:

  • TADHack Global Launch, Save the Date, 15-16 Oct 2022
  • U.S. Phones Received Nearly 4.4 Billion Robocalls in March
  • 5G providers reject mandates for backup power at cell sites
  • Commify enters US market with the acquisition of CDYNE
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

TADHack Global Launch, Save the Date, 15-16 Oct 2022

TADHack is the largest global hackathon focused on programmable telecommunications since 2014. This year we are partnering with Network X (Broadband World Forum, 5G World, and Telco Cloud) as the pre-event hackathon. This is similar to what we do before Enterprise Connect with TADHack-mini Orlando in March.

Thank you to STROLID, Symbl.ai, Telnyx, Jambonz, and Subspace for making TADHack possible.

At TADHack Global 2021 Symbl.ai achieved an amazing result, 21 hacks, and Telnyx was even more impressive with 30 hacks; all created over one weekend by developers from around the world.

The locations we anticipate running are: Chicago, Tampa, Colombia, South Africa, Berlin, UK, Sri Lanka, Amsterdam, France, and remote (anywhere in the world). We are adding new locations, e.g. TADHack France (run by Le Voice Lab), and Amsterdam as we are the pre-event hackathon to Network X (Broadband World Forum, 5G World, and Telco Cloud).

We had great success with TADHack Teens in Sri Lanka in 2021, and plan to expand this initiative to South Africa and the US. We’re training the next generation of programmable communications engineers and entrepreneurs!

We have two additional initiatives for 2022: 

The website is still in development, and definitely needs some accessibility improvements 😉 But save the date 15-16 Oct 2022, for largest global hackathon focused on programmable telecommunications.

U.S. Phones Received Nearly 4.4 Billion Robocalls in March

March 2022 had roughly the same robocall volume as last June 2021 with 4.4 billion calls, meaning robocall volumes have essentially returned to where they were in the Spring of 2021, prior to rolling out new Stir/Shaken rules for call authentication.

However, call volumes still have declined materially from the nearly 5 billion that occurred roughly a year ago, in March 2021, and are far below the 5.7 billion robocalls/month peak from October 2019.

It’s a game of whack-a-mole, plug one gap, the spammers find another. The root problem is people answering their phone when the number is not in their contact list. You can even set up a rule on your phone so it does not ring. If its a person trying to get in contact with you, they’ll leave a voice message or more likely these days text you, then you can call them back. A delay of a couple of minutes.

I think we need public service information adverts on phone etiquette to kill the robocallers at source. ‘If you do not know the number, do not let the robocaller in. Use voicemail or wait for a text from the caller.’ The UK has some of the scariest public service information adverts, as shown below. I remember many of them, they left an impression on me as a child. Like crossing the road: stop, look, and listen. Most kids in the US do not listen, when I’m with a group of them, I recite that mantra to this day. And shout at the ones talking as they cross the road, asking how can they listen when they are talking. Those adverts work.

5G providers reject mandates for backup power at cell sites

Last week in CXTech Week 13 2022, I did a piece on why the US was able to move to digital voice. Whilst the UK struggles, with BT claiming it moved too early. Then by chance I saw a piece from Brain Levy in Linkedin about the BT’s issues “Current plans to close down the fixed Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) need a major rethink.”

One of Brian’s points is the lack of back-up power at cell sites and backhaul in the UK. Given that is critical to the resilience of my US experience, I started to research what is specifically mandated, best practices, or simply being fortunate to live in Verizon’s backyard.

With 5G the carrier’s are grumbling that the regulator knows nothing, and they should be allowed to do whatever they want. Which isn’t very encouraging for the long term resilience of the US networks.

After the 2019 wildfires in California the carriers shared some statistics:

  • AT&T: 78% of sites have permanent generators that can run for 72 to 120 hours on a single fuel tank. 12% have batteries lasting a minimum of four hours if the site has no permanent generator and two hours if the site has a fixed generator. 3% of their network was out during the PG&E 2019 Outages.
  • Verizon: Larger sites have up to eight hours of battery backup. The majority have permanent generators that can run for 24 to 72 hours on a single fuel tank. The vast majority of sites without can be served with portable generators but a “discrete portion” of the network can’t be accessed. 3% of their network was out during the PG&E 2019 Outages.
  • TMO: 9% of cell sites in the Bay Area and Sacramento regions were down. The company said its generators generally can run for 72 hours.

Portable Generators are towed by a trunk that drops off the generator typically 9kW that can run for 3-5 days, depending on load. Cell sites are typically about 5kW. The generators are shared across a region. And there are also mobile towers, so if a tower is destroyed or not accessible so runs out of power, coverage can still be provided.

When hurricane Sandy hit, I remember friends finding 4G worked, but 2G/3G did not in lower Manhattan. So they made calls by Skype.

It’s a complex problem that is dependent on the size, scope, and duration of the event causing the outage; and the currently deployed network technologies. You would have thought spectrum license requirements would have made some stipulations around service availability. Bottom-line, someone needs to do the cost benefit analysis, as cell sites will go down, 911 calls will not get through, the weather is only going to get worse, and people will die regardless of how much is spent protecting the network.

AT&T’s figures feel right to me, 80% have permanent generators, with the other 20% covered by battery and shared portable generation. There will always be some towers that are inaccessible in an emergency, mobile towers can do what that can, but they take time to set-up. Letting the carriers do whatever they want on back-up leaves me with a long term concern, as its an opportunity for cost savings.

Just like we tolerate the current car and gun regulations in the US mean in car accidents: 38k people die, and 2 million are permanently injured (I think that number includes a lot of insurance scams); and from guns 45k die and about 90k are injured but survive. The numbers don’t change significantly year to year in aggregate. As a society we need to make a decision based on numbers, that’s what the FCC is there to do, telling the FCC they ‘know nothing’ isn’t very helpful.

Commify enters US market with the acquisition of CDYNE

CDYNE focuses on SMS/voice notification and data verification (phone number, address). Since I first came to know them back in 2008, that’s been their focus, identity verification and notifications for the North American market. In some ways similar to TeleSign, without the global expansion. CDYNE’s anticipated 2022 revenues is $14M.

Commify has been rolling up a number of SMS aggregators in Europe. They now have 45,000 businesses, sending 4 billion messages a year and over €130m annual revenue across SMS, WhatsApp, RCS, email, voice, web or payments. Headquartered in Nottingham, UK, the business operates in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Australia, and now the US.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Cagdas Yelen is now Staff Software Engineer at Carbon Health. Cagdas ran TADHack Istanbul in 2015.

Saad Syed is now Chief Executive Officer – Chenosis (MTN). I’ve known Saad since he joined Apigee. Chenosis is based on Apigee.

Arun Babu is now CEO – Deloitte Consulting Africa. We first met when I ran an innovation workshop for MTN.

Brite Devassy is now Senior Manager: Core Network Strategy at MTN. We first met when he worked for Telkom all the way back in 2009.

Abhilash Purushothaman is now Regional Vice President & General Manager (Asia) at AppDynamics (part of Cisco). We also met back in 2009.

Brian Varano is now Marketing Communications Director at Rajant Corporation, Industrial Wireless Networks. We first met when he was with TruePosition.

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