CXTech Week 29 2022 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 29 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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Following advice, I’m including a small pitch for my consulting services in this newsletter, many readers are unaware I consult. I’m an Engineer who’s been independently consulting for a couple of decades, “I know stuff and people” 😉 I’ve been involved in telecoms and technology for over 3 decades. That wealth of knowledge means I’ve seen the emergence of many technologies, the claims on telecom services sometimes come true, though WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) and 3G Video calling really were DOA (Dead on Arrival). I was a managing partner at Cambridge Technology Partners when I first experienced WAP and saw first-hand the gaps in performance and ease of implementation/ integration were significant compared to Web 1.0. It was not going to become the new enterprise revenue stream we hoped. When we look to the future we must look more broadly than just the mobile bit (5G or 6G), rather the likely technology and solution landscape customers will reside, and hack demos to see what customers really think.

Covered this week:

  • Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v1.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation
  • North American Next G Alliance – we’ve been here before too many times
  • 60 million in the Matrix as users seek decentralized messaging
  • Why Are Leading Companies Moving Away from Risk-Based Authentication?
  • Who or what is to blame for phone fraud?
  • Proximus Plans to Build 15,000 Additional Charging Points for EVs by 2028
  • Zoom has 3 million UC Customers
  • Netflix only lost 1 million subscribers in the last Quarter but the Content is suffering
  • Axiata Digital Labs: Forging Ahead With A New CTO
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v1.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation

From my perspective this is an important standard in declaring W3C’s independence from the big 3 browser vendors, Apple, Google and Mozilla.

There is a perception that W3C as dominated by those 3, so why bother, use the IETF or another body instead.

For more on the history of the DID standard please check out these links, Evernym blog about the objections from the big 3 browsers, The Register article on W3C overruling the objections, and the Decentralized Identity Foundation heralding the publishing of the standard. The video below is great if you have the time.

In the limit Web3 will only achieve the broad adoption of Web2 when the existing web ecosystem sees it as congruent to their business objectives. Working together is the only option, hence the critical role W3C plays.

North American Next G Alliance – we’ve been here before too many times

This report on 6G use cases and requirements is similar to what we’ve seen before with 5G, 4G and 3G. Visionary claims of currently fashionable ideas, with relatively little basis on current reality or the emerging landscape customers will find themselves.

I’m glad to see a mention of energy efficiency, telcos account for 2% to 3% of total global energy demand. Though given what’s happening around the world, 40C in the UK recently, I think energy efficiency could become the dominant requirement of 6G and most new technologies.

The principal telco provided 4G and 5G service is internet access. Followed by PSTN voice/messaging and emergency services, these are generally bundled for free. What people care about, and how pricing is differentiated is how much data they have in their plan.

I didn’t see any description of how PSTN services will evolve with 6G. Will this be another after-the-fact bolt-on? It’s about time the telco ecosystem focused on making the PSTN better, rather than a legacy experience.

The cognitive dissonance between talking about future ‘6G’ services telcos are not researching / developing, rather global technology companies are; and the market reality that internet access is what drives customer action remains.

Perhaps it’s time with 6G to focus on being the best, most efficient network to access to the internet (fixed and mobile)? Let the rest of the world innovate by solving problems that matter to them and in doing so changing the world for hopefully the better. Telcos are generally good at network operations; Rogers being a current exception.

Perhaps the telco ecosystem could take some advice from Popeye the Sailor Man, “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” Or going back in time to Socrates: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

60 million in the Matrix as users seek decentralized messaging

Congratulations to the Matrix team on reaching this milestone. Matthew Hodgson points out the figure is not exact, it’s a decentralized service.

The German healthcare system has mandated Matrix as the standard for messaging, voice and video. Bridging to rival messaging platforms, such as Slack or Team, also eases the potential pain of migration. We covered how Matrix has achieved such successes in the interview we did at TADSummit 2020, Innovator Interview: Amandine Le Pape and Matthew Hodgson, The Matrix.org Foundation and Element.

I really like this quote from Matthew, “A decentralized open standard is the most sensible and viable way forward for communications, in the same way that http underpins the web. It empowers users and providers with interoperability, security and data ownership. All parties have their own control and choice.”

With the Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v1.0 standard being published by the W3C. The Web3 components are being assembled. The number of web3 islands are growing, and increasingly interoperable through open standards and open source. The Next G Alliance should have Web3 as a core component of its vision, perhaps this is a route to reinvigorate the PSTN?

Why Are Leading Companies Moving Away from Risk-Based Authentication?

This article left me confused for a number of weeks. I do not see companies moving away from risk-based authentication, rather I see its use increasing. It’s a well-established business, from the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Okta, through to banks and financial services companies and their established vendors.

I’ve talked about the role programmable communications can play for several years, through companies like Telesign, Prove, and Twilio (they bought Boku, Authy was more 2FA). That is using mobile phone data, as many online transactions are over the mobile phone. It’s much broader than 2FA, that’s old school. State of the art is doing the risk assessment in the background, so most customers have a slick experience. Here’s a great summary from TADSummit Americas 2019 from Pierre Demarche, who is now Founder and CEO of Monnai.

On the banking and financial services side of the business companies like FICO have Risk Score that combines Equifax consumer credit data with advanced searching and matching logic to give you an expanded view of current consumer credit risk, including bankruptcies, charge-offs, repossessions, loan defaults and delinquencies. That insight is extended to authentication by many of the established suppliers to financial services companies.

The Prove article focuses on cryptography, that is using known secrets like the phone number or SIM ID, the information exchange can be encrypted. Avoiding, I assume, bad actors snooping on the data. Or storing the PII encrypted so a breach will not reveal the PII.

I think the confusion in the article reflects the challenge the phone-based identity authenticators face in winning a larger share of the authentication market. The established players are expanding within existing accounts based on their incumbency is challenging for those focused on using phone data and its dependency on telcos.

There are lots of opportunities, don’t get me wrong, but more work is required to dovetail with the incumbents to then accelerate sales. This could be an opportunity for Telesign as it resets after the IPO cancellation.

A petty peeve, the article raises the question, if risk-based authentication (RBA) has grown more sophisticated, why is fraud increasing? Well, more transactions are online than ever before because there was a global pandemic for several years. And once you go online, you don’t go back.

Who or what is to blame for phone fraud?

This is an excellent article reviewing the cat and mouse game of phone fraud.

Globally, phone fraud is estimated to cost economies US$5 trillion annually, including account takeovers, impersonation, romance scams, SIM swapping, SMS OTP and other scams. According to research firm Imperva, account takeovers alone, the locking out of your own mobile account, rocketed 121% last year.

Banks, e-retailers, social media platforms, and other online service providers have invested in anti-fraud software, and other technologies to detect and prevent criminal behavior. They have introduced facial, and voice recognition, finger and thumbprints, and iris scans to verify account holder identities. This caused criminals to pivot to the path of least resistance – you!

In Singapore, SingPass has over 3,500,000 people using the app, integrating 2,000 services, and over 29 million transactions made monthly. The government introduced the E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety Ratings to protect customers from scams.

In April this year, Singapore’s Anti-Scam Centre reported they had recovered S$200 million and frozen 27,300 bank accounts from scammers since 2019. Although a spectacular achievement in the fight against phone fraud. Other countries need to follow-suit.

Proximus Plans to Build 15,000 Additional Charging Points for EVs by 2028

The current fashion is to sell off network assets, like towers, to realize ‘shareholder value’. That is get cash to pay down debt or buy more businesses. For example, Deutsche Telekom has agreed to sell 51% of its towers business to a consortium of Canada’s Brookfield and U.S. private equity firm DigitalBridge after they made a surprise last-minute bid that valued the unit at 17.5 billion euros ($17.5 billion). The proceeds will be used for DT to buy the rest of T-Mobile US; and at least it still has majority control of the consortium, for the time being.

There are mixed views. Some consider towers to be a non-strategic asset. But telcos are predominantly network operators, not service providers. And the network business is tough, it’s increasingly hard/expensive to copy. In my opinion it is a strategic asset, that should only be sold in a crisis.

And now to Proximus, which is clearly looking to what the future requires and taking advantage of its network assets. Proximus also plans to start installing charging stations in semi-public and enterprise spaces, particularly in parking lots, offering charging-as-a-service to companies, as well as to hospitals, sports clubs, cultural centers, etc. A model other telcos can copy.

Zoom has 3 million UC Customers

Back in CXTech Week 2 2021 we covered Zoom Phone reaching 1 million UCaaS customers. Then in June 2021 they reached 1.5 million, and one year later the number has doubled.

Zoom Phone is available in 47 countries, with the Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) connectivity of Zoom Phone Provider Exchange offering customers a choice of global voice service providers in more than 70 countries.

The Zoom Phone pitch is simply, “Whether it was to replace an outdated legacy solution, consolidate communications onto a single platform, or enable remote and hybrid teams (or all of the above), we’re extremely grateful to every organization for choosing to deploy Zoom Phone.”

Netflix only lost 1 million subscribers in the last Quarter but the Content is suffering

In CXTech Week 27 2022 I covered the current audience measurement is leading to poor customer experience, with crazy long episodes. Also the quality of the content has dropped, the Resident Evil series was poor, the plot just didn’t make sense in the end. With that said, content from Asia continues strong such as Alchemy of Souls and Extraordinary Attorney Woo are enjoyable after several big title disappointments.

Axiata Digital Labs: Forging Ahead With A New CTO

Namal is a long-time technology industry veteran with decades of experience. He’s been working within Axiata Group for over 18 years since joining Dialog Axiata PLC in 2004. During his tenure, he has delivered groundbreaking OSS/BSS, rating and charging, Data Analytics and AI, and Digital Transformation solutions.

Upon joining ADL, he took on the role of Vice President of Engineering, Emerging Technology. In this role, he provided guidance and expertise on many of Axiata’s internal innovations. As CTO, he’ll lead the entire Engineering Organization at ADL. 

Over the years, ADL has delivered over 150 projects and created over 18 innovative products in several strategic domains. This rapid business growth has allowed the company to expand its team from 200 to 1300 with satellite operations in Malaysia and Indonesia. Collectively, they drive the digital transformation journeys of organizations across 7 countries—an admirable feat accomplished in about three and a half years. 

You can see Namal presenting at TADSummit Asia 2021 on Evolution of Telecommunication Service Providers, from Legacy to Digital, Namal Jayathilake, Axiata Digital Labs

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Cindy Mischowski is now Strategic Account Manager – Enterprise Security at Micro Focus.

New word I learned this week: Asparamancer. Bath woman who uses asparagus to predict future forecasts.

Prof. Henning Schulzrinne on winning the 2022 SIGCOMM Award for Lifetime Achievement for his “impactful and sustained contributions to the design of protocols, applications, and algorithms for Internet multimedia.” Read about his groundbreaking work on voice-over-internet-protocols (a.k.a. VOIP) and other applications.

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