CXTech Week 8 2024 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 8 2024 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:

  • TCR: Responsibility without Control
  • TADHack Open 2024 Resources
  • Podcast 36: TADSummit Innovators, Rob Pickering
  • Spotlight on Africa’s Talking
  • Analysys Mason: Operators are picking network API platforms but will progress with developers be evident at MWC 2024?
  • Uncomfortable Questions to ask about 5G Standalone at MWC
  • Bird Pricing
  • We told you last year China is in Critical National Infrastructure
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

We lead this newsletter with a post that needs the attention of the whole US industry. Please read ‘TCR: Responsibility without Control’. You should be enraged at the current situation, the FCC is having rings run around them while companies are making billions per month SMS spamming and robocalling us. Yet there are technologies that can stop this plague now.

TCR: Responsibility without Control

TCR (The Campaign Registry, US) Filing to the FCC, Feb 7th 2024

In reviewing FCC filings, TCR made one on February 7, 2024;  after it met with the FCC on February 5, 2024.

The quote below from the document is the most relevant and critically confirms what we’ve been saying since last year about TCR and its inability to stop SMS spam. Today while all carrier networks are struggling to deliver mobile service, I received an SMS SPAM from “Kayla offering to buy my home.”

We noted that TCR’s objective, in conjunction with its carrier partners and campaign service provider customers, is to advance the Commission’s interest in protecting consumers from illegal and unwanted text messages. We also clarified TCR’s role in the messaging ecosystem, explaining that the company collects and validates information regarding campaign service providers’ customers and their messaging campaigns, but does not, and is not able to, view the content of, filter, or block messages sent by campaign service providers’ customers to mobile subscribers.

TCR Filing made on Feb 7th 2024 to the FCC,

So What?

It is good TCR has come clean on the limits of their platform. They essentially have responsibility to stop spam but lack control. They rubber stamp some paperwork, and let others do their work in delivering SMS. Our everyday experience of SMS spam continues to show the Messaging Monopolies failure to address the one thing all mobile customers care about, stopping spam.

While the Messaging Monopolies and Carriers are able to charge 0.5-1c per 10DLC A2P message. Amongst many other fees and fines, covered in the Telecom Triopoly post, see below. The thing that works is charging businesses, not stopping SPAM.

But it’s worse than this, by admitting TCR doesn’t know or track the phone numbers means the current structure will prevent enforcement actions against spammers. Consider this scenario, a spammer uses a campaign to get their spam through, and then changes the numbers in the NetNumber database. No one will be able to trace the spam back to a campaign. The whole system now enables spam to remain untraceable, spam is OK as long as they pay A2P termination fees.

Identity is the crux of the spam problem, identity of the brand and identity of the mobile customer. Self Sovereign Identity is built to solve the problem every mobile customer faces in spam and unwanted messages. To learn more check out “Podcast 29: TADSummit Innovators, Noah Rafalko, TNID”; and “Podcast 27: Truth in Telecoms, Taking Back Control & Save Grandma – The Fight Against SMS Spam and Robocalls!

Stating this frankly. We pointed out the problems with TCR last year. TCR has confirmed what we said is true in its letter to the FCC. The current infrastructure does not stop spam and prevents enforcement, in addition to being a tax on US businesses, with the potential of bankrupting fines. See Podcast 19: Truth in Telecoms, T-Mobile did What? We’ve got to move away from from this broken infrastructure and move to a technology the FCC and enforce on carriers to stop spam SMS and robocalling, Self Sovereign Identity.

Relevant Previous Posts

Was the FCC Lied to? What the FCC was told on SMS spam.

The Telecom Triopoly

Original Messaging Monopolies Post – assumes a fair bit of industry knowledge

Messaging Monopolies Simplified

Major William Peters, Plaintiff, versus Kaleyra, Defendant.

Understanding TCR and Kaleyra Part 2

Understanding TCR and Kaleyra Part 1

The Campaign Registry and Foreign Ownership: A Matter of National Security

Several people have asked about this image. I gave midjourney the simple prompt ‘responsibility without control.’ This was one of the images created, a person with their back to the audience, their hands close to the cables connected to 2 scales (of justice?), but not necessarily touching them. The bleak industrial look, like a modern day rendition of George Orwell’s 1984, and the streaks of red paint worked for me on a number of levels.

TADHack Open 2024 Resources

Please register for TADHack Open, thanks. The TADHack Open 2024 resources are here: STROLID and SignalWire. I’m really excited for what STROLID and SignalWire have put together. Whether you’re a hardcore programmer, a cut-and-paster like me, or have no programming skills there’s something for you.

If you are attending Enterprise Connect 2024, or a member of the Cloud Communications Alliance, at TADHack OPEN you’ll get hands-on training about the practical realities of AI Agents with SignalWire, and the importance of vCon in protecting your customers’ data. Especially when using that data for training bots.

SignalWire AI Agent Resources

This is hot off the press, SignalWire has released the first draft of its Dev Guide for TADHack. More content will be added in the run up to TADHack, however, there’s lots to play with immediately and become a SignalWire AI wiz. Thank you to Brian West and the team for putting this together.

If you need any help just ask or on the Community Slack. They’re really friendly people and want you to be successful using SignalWire.

The getting started guide is excellent, as easy as A B C. Using WireStarter to get your environment set up, they have lots of demos to get you started, including:

  • Flo’s Flowers (Low-Code). Send an SMS e-card with an image url to a user’s phone number. Flo will give four flower options to choose from to send. The user can include a message with the flower image.
  • Weather Bot (Low-Code). Uses the OpenStreetMap API to fetch longitude and latitude values based on the provided city and state. The bot then uses these coordinates and the API to retrieve the requested weather details.

STROLID vCon Resources

STROLID’s resources are there, here’s a great video with Thomas Howe, the vConfather  STROLID set challenges and have resources for you to play with:

  • Best Redaction: Take the series of vCons we give you, and remove all the personal identifiable information (PII). Extra points for delivering it in the form of a conserver link. 
  • Best Detection: Take the series of vCons we give you, and list all the personal identifiable information. Extra points for delivering it in the form of a conserver link. 

Here’s a hint to make your entry really competitive, we did an interview with the co-founder and CTO of PrivateAI, Pieter Luitjens, a data redaction company and in there he talks about quasi-PII, see time code 13:30. I know I’m making Thomas’s judging job even harder. But redaction and AI training have become critically important. This is important for your business in remaining compliant with privacy regulations and helps you develop highly marketable AI skills.

Anyone can do it!

As we covered on Technology Reseller News podcastTADHack Open is a chance for anyone attending Enterprise Connect or members of the Cloud Communication Alliance to submit a showcase (video with an idea on how you can use the sponsors’ technologies) and given how easy STROLID and SignalWire have made using their platforms. I strongly advise everyone to have a go at a hack, not just share an idea, make it real. Its just like editing a document, and we all can do that.

Please register for TADHack Open, thanks.

Podcast 36: TADSummit Innovators, Rob Pickering

Podcast Directory

Rob Pickering is a Internet and Real Time Communication Software Expert, Innovator, Advisor, Investor. For me, he’s a touchstone on when a technology has moved beyond hype into having meaningful deployable applications. What Rob has to say around chatbots matters to me more than most of the vendors and analysts.

Rob reviewed his history across the internet and real time communications, his experiences of early Asterisk with IPCortex, where I got to know him. Rob took part in the first TADHack in 2014, winning the Google Prize, his Linkedin page has the image of him receiving the prize.

Rob showed 2 back to back ChatGPT agents discussing buying and selling donuts at TADSummit 2023. “LLMs on the telephone: useful tool, or hallucinating danger to humanity? Slides can be downloaded here. And here is Rob’s TADSummit presentation. This showed the potential, but also the shortcomings.

This lead to Rob’s current focus. He frankly shared the problems we’re seeing in most LLM implementation where prompt injection enables the training data to be exposed, which is often unredacted.

An analogy Rob used is in the human mind there is fast and slow thinking. LLMs do the fast part well, understanding intent. But can not be trusted with the slow part, the logic of implementing the intent. He referred to this as Gatekeeper Logic in his TADSummit presentation.

At FOSDEM Rob presented how he’s taking this forward, using Jambonz, and open sourcing some parts to accelerate the art of using LLMs in communications. There is a commercial side to this, and we’re looking forward to when Rob can share the details.

Spotlight on Africa’s Talking

Yusuf Kaka introduced me to Samuel Gikandi and Michael Kimathi of Africa’s Talking. BTW for any telco or business wanting to build a business and community around service exposure, there really isn’t anyone more experienced and driven than Yusuf. We’ve worked together for close to one decade.

Africa’s Talking Team

Introducing Africa’s Talking

The focus of this post is Africa’s Talking, we’re into the second year of working together. I wanted to share my experiences and more information on all the work Africa’s Talking does for developer communities around Africa.

Founded in 2010, Africa’s Talking works to lower the barriers to entry for developers and businesses to gain access to and create value with telecommunication infrastructure. They operate in 23 countries. Here are some slides that summarize what they do.

TADHack Global partnered with Africa’s Talking to run locations in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Kaduna, Nigeria, Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda. You can see the photos from all the TADHack Global locations here.

The quality of the hacks was impressive, at the end of this post are a few of the many excellent hacks created. Africa Talking also run AT Summits across Africa to educate and engage developer communities. Their Women in Technology initiative is cooperating with TADHack Open to improve the representation of women at TADHack.

I recommend working with Africa’s Talking, they’ll help you broadly engage across African developer communities in many countries. Check out the linked post in the title to see some of the African hacks created at last year’s TADHack Global.

Analysys Mason: Operators are picking network API platforms but will progress with developers be evident at MWC 2024?

Developers are a distraction for telcos. Technology businesses employ developers. What we need to focus on is what services can carriers expose that can be used by a business to create value.

Robert Vis, founder CEO of Bird confirmed “CPaaS is done.” . Anthony Minessale II who built the foundation for the programmable communications industry refers to it as CPast. Leaders in programmable telecoms have moved on. Just look at the state of the art developer resources SignalWire has at TADHack Open.

Let’s pick on SIM swap, its available from a number of aggregators today, Telesign is an example. It’s about Identity verification, a vast market including companies like TransUnion, LexisNexis, trustingsocial, Prove, Socure, Experian, SEON, Twilio, IP-centric solutions, local data-centric solutions. Unless the SIM swap service is evaluated across the options available to enterprises it will NOT be competitive.

Most telco back end systems are too slow to expose SIM swap within a time enterprises need. NaaS (Network as a Service) is a mature market which does not require on-demand performance, rather provisioning and configuration. As Carol said, “The focus on APIs and not apps has echoes of the telecoms API initiatives a decade ago.”

When everyone has communications APIs (UCaaS, CCaaS, CX, IVR, collaboration, conversational AI, etc), and customers have moved on from APIs to services, CPaaS has become the lipstick on a laggard business model (aggregation).

During the pandemic CPaaS was a euphemism for, ‘we’re like Twilio (but not really) please give us their multiple’. Twilio is no longer a Wall Street favorite. The skeletons appear to be coming out of the closets.

UCaaS now offers CCaaS, collaboration, IVR, CX, and much beside, check out RingCentral. It’s all built on a telecom app server, FreeSWITCH Sponsored by SignalWire, and it’s all programmable. Hence its programmable communications. The market has moved up the stack, yet some have not realized that. Check out the Unifonic session at TADSummit on how they’re moving up the stack given the changes.

The carriers are racing to where the ball was before the pandemic, not to where the ball is going to be. The marketing organizations (MEF, TMF, GSMA, CTIA, MWC) and ill-informed telecom consultancies are partially to blame for perpetuating this laggard thinking. Beware people talking to you about CPaaS, developers, and API standards like its an answer to innovation and new revenues. They are dragging you into the past.

Uncomfortable Questions to ask about 5G Standalone at MWC

The telco industry lacks objective analysis like Nick Jones’ “Uncomfortable Questions”. Carriers should be far more critical of being asked to spend more without a robust balanced internal discussion.

I have the same issue with CAMARA / Network APIs, when I point out the issues, even though there are many private DMs of support, there is a lack of open support because people worry for their employment. Given an organizational commitment has been made without a robust balanced internal discussion.

Telcos need to cherish their independent thinkers, and use them to make the best decisions for their shareholders, rather than their vendors and vendor-dominated marketing organizations. Following the herd of MWC will not deliver the best return to shareholders nor to the country of operations which has granted the license.

We have a brief discussion on how the industry has ended up in this state. History has a lot to do here. Telcos evolved from the civil service. Hierarchical, where the officer class did their ‘leadership thing’ of ‘once more unto the breach’, and everyone obeyed orders else were disciplined.

I know some telcos have different origin stories, but many people in them came from the old incumbents, and being within the telco ecosystem it migrated towards a civil service lite culture.

I worked at BT for 10 years, fortunately at the Labs where my corporate turrets was tolerated. But as I became more senior I saw what was required to move up the ladder, so moved out.

The industry’s marketing organizations MWC, MEF, TMF, GSMA, CTIA reinforce the vendor BS. Its an entrenched industry, that today can not help itself.

It’s simply easier to believe than think in the end. Deliver your objectives, remain in employment, and retire with a reasonable pension. Hence the reality we see in 5G.

Bird Pricing

We had a fun conversation with Robert Vis on TADSummit Podcast 30: Truth in Telecoms: Flipping the Bird with Robert Vis. He announced drastic cuts in SMS pricing, which generated lots of discussion covered in the CXTech Week 6 Newsletter.

Bird has released its latest comparison pricing to Twilio, Sinch, Klaviyo, and Attentive.

And a reminder from Robert Vis that CPaaS is done!

For all the MWC attendees talking about CPaaS, APIs, developers, and even worse standardized APIs. What businesses want are solutions to business problems – that is services. That’s another Robert Vis quote.

As Anthony Minessale II said, it’s CPast.

Check out SignalWire‘s resources at TADHack Open, App development in programmable communications has become as easy as editing a document, low-code.

The market has moved away from CPaaS. Only laggard marketing organizations remain.

We told you last year China is in Critical National Infrastructure

The latest WSJ article “Leaked files from Chinese firm show vast international hacking effort” is rather alarming. This compounded on earlier warnings from the FBI Director on cyberattacks from China.

I want to send props to Bill Peters and Frederick (“Rick”) Joyce for raising the industry’s attention since mid last year on the risk posed by TCR:

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Lance Berks is now Senior Vice President – Global Delivery at Amelia. Previously he was SVP at And we’ve known eachother since 2010.

Mitesh Mahtani is now Director of Web Technology at Benzyme Ventures.

Falk Schröder is acting MD and Managing Partner Detecon MEA in Dubai. We’ve known each other for 17 years!

Andrew Byrne is now Chief Revenue Officer(CRO), Advisor, GTM Leader at Affinitiv. I’ve known Andrew since his time at Openwave Messaging.

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