The summer solstice has come and gone, the days are becoming shorter, though because of seasonal lag we have many hotter days ahead as the sun continues to heat the northern hemisphere more than it cools down overnight. I’ve been waking at 5:30 AM to take my son to summer swim practice from 6-8 AM. And over the past two weeks we see the sun progressively lower in the sky as we set out for swim at 5:40 on the dot.
So much has happened and come to a head over the past 6 months. Avaya came in and out of bankruptcy, it’s an old-hand with bankruptcies. When people use the term AI, they mean weak AI software that uses a transformer model to present content in response to input content. The calls for regulation are simply to limit the rise of open source AI, which Google has pointed out will win over their and OpenAI’s platforms. Simply certain people protecting their investments. Also some people are complaining about work from home yet again, sigh. Rather, in this mid-year review I focus on these topics:
- The Rise of BS in Telecoms
- IETF Standards to Watch: mimi and vCon
- The Rise of SPAM / SCAM Awareness
- Interesting Newsletters and Events
- Open Source in Telecoms
- TADS, Making a Difference for over 10 years with no BS
The Rise of BS in Telecoms
If there is one meme that captures the past 6 months, it’s the one below. The misinformation, misdirection, and revisionist history being presented has never been higher. During the pandemic, we were all focused on adapting to the ‘new normal’, and programmable communications played the critical role.
Companies like Zoom offered their collaboration service for free to schools throughout the US. I remember my son’s elementary school music lessons over Zoom, it was painful, but at least the kids sort of played together.
Many local businesses offered zero touch or delivered to your car on arrival using Twilio’s programmable communications.
Throughout the pandemic I paid my monthly fixed and mobile subscription fees, as I have for the past decade for the decades old services of voice, messaging and internet access. Along with other utility bills such the water, gas, electricity and sewerage.
Telcos did not innovate during the pandemic, the programmable communications industry innovated. They enabled us to carry on living through the pandemic. Zoom became a verb, unlike Verizon, AT&T, PSE&G, NJ Water, or NJ Natural Resources.
Book clubs (you know those alleged industry ‘representation’ organizations) are too afraid to point out the challenges being imposed on the programmable communications industry. While telcos, their vendors and consultants are talking about techco, fairshare, 5G services, CAMARA, open gateway, and telco innovation through the pandemic! We have to stand up to this tsunami of BS!
As Socrates said, “know thyself is the beginning of all wisdom”, carriers must do the same; learn from history; and fund innovators not squeeze them out of business.
I’ve explained many times that CPaaS is a contrived technology category. We’ve seen many CPaaS Landscapes with missing vendors and pay to play positioning. Recently there was a landscape defined by G2, generally defined by software developers, which stands in stark contrast to analyst landscapes from Omdia and IDC.
None are great, I always recommend to ignore the landscapes, your specific needs could turn the landscape on its head. Rather talk to people in your industry on what they use and why, talk with potential vendors, get a list together, define your criteria now and in the future (switching vendors is a pain), weight them, and rank your vendor list. Get some quotes and make a decision. It really is that simple.
I also covered the likely outcome of the Camara One Gateway. The vendors Nokia & Ericsson (possibly), but most likely the cloud providers Microsoft, Amazon and Google, are going to run it on behalf of the carriers. Just like WAC and Apigee ‘joined forces’ and Google ended up buying them.
The above post on the likely outcome was stimulated by watching the TelecomTV session, ‘Why data and APIs are key to implementing the vision of the digital services provider‘. I found the justification that telcos weren’t ready 10 years ago revisionist. Ideamart (a telco) was ready 10 years ago. Tens of aggregators were ready. Cloud is not a precondition, the market was ready ten years ago, and the need for universal collaboration is a telco industry anomaly that no other industry seems to need. We need to find a way to stop such utter BS being presented without recourse, its resulting in ever decreasing circles and no substantive progress for telcos in an important future line of business.
Twilio is definitely the canary in the coal mine for programmable telecoms, the activist investors are circling and TCR applies its byzantine process on the programmable communications industry, not on telcos or its close friends. This deck has been stacked against the programmable communications industry and I feel like a voice in the wilderness in pointing this out, at least publicly.
The Harvard Business Review has a great article on how conflicting ideas make strategy stronger. Given my expertise and willingness to point out the lack of emperor’s new clothes, you’d think some of the telco execs would get in touch to understand the dichotomy and build a better strategy. But as happened a decade before with OneAPI, they take a faith-based approach. You either believe (on the side of righteousness), remain agnostic (stay out of the way), or are a heretic (foolish and ignored). History will repeat itself, and one of the many sad things in the telco industry is no telco strategy person will be held accountable for their poor judgement.
IETF Standards to Watch: mimi and vCon
IETF started work this year on vCon, the PDF for conversations. STROLID the backer of vCon are a sponsor of TADHack and TADSummit. vCons transform your conversations into first party data that is privacy laws friendly, think of it as robot food 🙂
A separate workgroup on More Instant Messaging Interoperability (MIMI) has started. For those following TADSummit and TADHack over the years will of course immediately think Matrix.org for messaging interoperability. But of course standards bodies are highly political, so nothing is straightforward.
The Rise of SPAM / SCAM Awareness
Finally, the FCC adopted some network centric rules on illegal robo-texting. I had the chance to talk with Tim from Commio about this on their monthly industry briefing, see video below.
For A2P based illegal robo-texting we have the 5 aggregators with direct carrier connections: Syniverse, Sinch, Kaleyra, Vibes, and Infobip. They should be implementing basic network hygiene, like the carriers. If it’s not these 2 sources, then where are all these illegal robo-SMS coming from? However, the industry is making quite a bit of money in delivering all these illegal texts and calls, hence the painfully slow and highly political response by the industry.
Unfortunately the whole of the A2P industry is being made to suffer. All A2P providers must monitor all text messages to block those from invalid, unallocated, unused numbers, or numbers not assigned to be text capable (self-identified). The FCC runs the reassigned Numbers DB. But those self-identified as not texting, that’s worrisome. It’s a patchwork quilt of databases.
The Commio Monthly Briefing reviews this and much more. In the limit its KYC (Know Your Customer) and Compliance.
We’ve seen the Irish regulator get serious about, “scam texts and calls costs €300m a year” source ComReg.
The cost of scam texts and calls to Irish society is conservatively estimated at more than €300 million a year according to the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, which has outlined a plan to clampdown on fraudulent communications.
The costs break down as €115m due to scam SMS texts and €187m due to scam calls.
“These scams are a blight on society and cause significant financial and economic damage to all sectors of society including consumers, business, and public bodies,” ComReg said in a statement.
“Scams also diminish the trust placed by consumers and businesses in calls and SMS, thereby undermining the benefits of such services,” the regulator said.
A new analysis from the Federal Trade Commission shows that bogus bank fraud warnings were the most common form of text message scam reported to the agency, and that many of the most common text scams impersonate well-known businesses.
In a newly issued data spotlight, the FTC ranks the top five types of text message scam reported in 2022, with examples of each showing the ways that scammers craft messages designed to deceive consumers. Consumers reported losing $330 million to text message scams in 2022, more than doubling what was reported in 2021.
The analysis looked at a random sample of 1,000 text messages reported to the FTC, finding that fake bank security messages, often supposedly from large banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, were the most common type. These texts are designed to create a sense of urgency, often by asking people to verify a large transaction they did not make. Those who respond are connected to a fake bank representative. Reports of texts impersonating banks have increased nearly twentyfold since 2019.
After bank impersonation, the most frequently reported text scams were: messages claiming to offer a free gift, often from a cell phone carrier or retailer; fake claims of package delivery issues from the USPS, UPS, or FedEx; phony job offers for things like mystery shopping and car wrapping; and bogus Amazon security alerts.
Interesting Newsletters and Events
The RTCSec Newsletter is required reading for anyone in RTC who wants to keep current on security. I’m really proud I made it into the June issue, even though I am not a security expert, I do know some experts 🙂
FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels. Open Source is fundamental to the rise of programmable telecoms. Most of the videos are online, some of the sessions I watched include:
- Become a rockstar using FOSS! by Lorenzo Miniero – all the FOSS dedicated to music is an eye opener.
- Social audio applications with Janus by Lorenzo Miniero
- 7 things I learned about old computers, via emulation by Steven Goodwin – geek history!
- OpenSIPS 3.3 – Messaging in the IMS and UC ecosystems by Liviu Chircu
- Modernizing Authentication and Authorization in XMPP by Matthew Wild
- Interoperable Chat, Dutch Healthcare and the Digital Services Act by Winfried Tilanus
- W3C RTC Working Group Update by Romain Vailleux
- 4K HDR video with AV1 : A Reality Check by Vibhoothi
- Merging Two Worlds – Broadcast and WebRTC by Dan Jenkins
Open Source in Telecoms
We completed the annual Open Source Telecom Survey 2023 in June and distributed the results to those that completed the survey. Thank you to 168 people who completed this survey with lots of insightful comments, they are great! In 2022 we had 120 responses. We’ll make all the results available in October at TADSummit.
This year we’ve focused on general questions across Cyber Security Regulations, Using and Contributing to RTC Open Source Projects, Representation in RTC OSS Projects, Enterprise desktop phone, Large Language Models, CPaaS Evolution, and WebRTC.
A few teasers:
- For the question, will the desktop phone ever disappear? I think disappear is too strong / simplistic. There will likely be desktop phones as long as humans are around. Rather, when will desktop phones lines be <20% of employees? 2040 was consider the most likely date when desktop phones will ‘disappear’. But like SS7, it may hang around for a few more decades.
- On Fraud and Identity CPaaS, market is far from defined and will remain turbulent / fragmented. Some see Fraud / Identity becoming a standardized feature in CPaaS that will feed into risk / identity aggregators. Some mentioned Passkeys as the likely winner. However, SIM swap can not be determined through passkey. Many mentioned the telecom industry’s inability to work together to deliver solutions for specific industries.
I wrote a piece on the success of free and open source software (FOSS) for programmable communications, though less so for telecoms. The Web runs on FOSS. Apache and Nginx web servers run over 60% of the world’s websites, and Kubernetes powers cloud computing. IBM purchased Red Hat, one of the most successful companies built around FOSS for $34 billion. A year before that, other tech giants paid billions to acquire a stake in FOSS, most notably Microsoft (bought GitHub for $7.5 billion) and Salesforce.com (bought MuleSoft for $6.5 billion). FOSS has achieved mainstream success and changed the world.
Black Duck Software runs an annual Future of FOSS survey. In the most recent survey 78 percent of respondents said their companies run part or all of its operations on OSS and 66 percent said their company creates software for customers built on open source.
FOSS is part of most software builds. The reach of FOSS is amazing, see this year’s FOSDEM sessions I watched.
FOSS is a two edged sword, LOG4j was one of the FOSS projects that precipitated the EU CRA Act. There’s also a cultural shift required. Many FOSS implementers think the Free means zero cost. As Microsoft’s Ballmer said in 2000 “Linux is Communism”. But it isn’t, users / implementers need to contribute across code, docs, and cash.
FOSS has enabled the web, transformed enterprise IT, and made programmable communications / telecoms possible. It’s a maturing model that needs support by everyone that uses FOSS. It’s not free as in no cost, it’s free as in speech (you will not be made part of a human centipede), and it’s the responsibility of everyone to recognize the projects. If you use it, contribute what you can, think of it like tipping after a meal, its optional, but you really should.
Telcos’ services strategy remains closely linked to their network vendors, see the current focus on OneAPI 2.0 (CAMARA). However, there’s enough margin in their business that such decisions matter little to the bottom line, it’s a state granted oligopoly. Voice and SMS offers will be maintained given the emergency services requirements of their license. Regulation is not going to change on emergency services as that is a vote loser.
Perhaps the fixed carriers will move first to FOSS in the services layer? They are closing down the copper network and going all IP for voice. Perhaps some niches in mobile, e.g. MVNOs, and those augmenting their cores using WG2 and ng-voice. But it’s likely to be a slow transition compared to the development of the programmable comms industry. And at the start of this year Mobi announced it will use WG2’s Core hosted on AWS.
TADS, Making a Difference for over 10 years with no BS
I kicked off 2023 promoting TADHack Open sponsored by Radisys and supported by WebRTC.Ventures. We have stated since our founding in 2013, ‘TADHack is for everyone.’ The diversity of people involved in TADHack has improved over its 10 years, however, we can do more.
TADHack worked with groups committed to increasing the influence of women in building the technologies that shape our culture and change our world. At TADHack Open I’m proud to say we achieved equity in male and female representation, with several female dominated teams. You can read the summary of the event and our session at Enterprise Connect here.
Radisys will be sponsoring TADHack Global along with Stacuity, Jambonz, STROLID, and hopefully one more. WebRTC.Ventures will be supporting TADSummit in October. One of the winners came from Africa’s Talking community. We’ll be working with them across Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Kaduna, Kampala and Lagos. We’ve also been testing the Stacuity SIMs in preparations for TADHack. TADHack is the only event that enables your service to be tested around the world over one weekend.
We were unable to get every presentation we wanted into TADSummit 2022 in November. TADSummit Special, March 21-23, shared 3 insightful presentations.
The EU Cyber Resilience act – what does it mean for IP communications?
Olle Johansson, Experienced consultant in network security and real time communication – PKI, webrtc, SIP , XMPP. Kamailio and Asterisk expert, Sandro Gauci, CEO / Senior Penetration Tester / Chief mischief officer at Enable Security.
Here’s the videos, slides and commentary: https://blog.tadsummit.com/2023/03/21/eu-cyber-resilience-act/
Silent Authentication: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!
Eric Nadalin, CTO, co-founder tru.ID, and Gentleman Farmer
Here’s the video and commentary: https://blog.tadsummit.com/2023/03/22/silent-authentication/.
Why many conversational AI providers are ditching commercial platforms and moving to open source — and why you should too!
Dave Horton, Creator of drachtio.org, the open source framework for SIP Server applications
Here’s the video and commentary: https://blog.tadsummit.com/2023/03/23/conversational-ai-open-source/
I finish on the meme for this year’s mid-year review.