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A unified theory for the future of telecoms? — 7 Comments

  1. Interesting post as I am working on innovations to build the future of our Telco!
    The industry brightness of the late 90’s has too quickly turned into a uniform fear of becoming a “dumb pipe”, which is now what scares most if not all telecom operators. But there’s much more to it – and telcos have developed key competencies that are transferable to other industries. Our assets are much broader and deeper than mere data centers and cable systems.
    Feel free to reach out and meet up to share views and perspectives, and debate them!
    Alex

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Alex! I agree that the “dumb pipe” is a big fear. I would say that telcos are still “too dumb” but fundamentally not a “pipe” at all. More on that later! I agree that telcos do have assets and skill sets that are applicable to other sectors, though they have often had difficulty in getting enough management focus to make it happen. Looking forward to continuing the conversation!

  3. These are clearly interesting questions raised by Richard on the future of telecoms. I look forward to read and share more insights.
    Looking at the competition between Telcos and Over-The-Top players, it is interesting to note that Telcos have an important advantage, which is the universality of their services: using voice or SMS services you can reach any other subscriber, anywhere in the world, i.e. 3.565 billion unique mobile subscribers. It’s hard to do the same with OTT services like Skype, Viber, Apple iMessages, Google Hangouts and the likes.
    However, in the past years, innovation in terms of new services has been mostly led by OTT players.
    A new standardised service has been developed, though, under the umbrella of the GSMA, to compete with these OTT services. Rich Communications is supposed to “bring you closer to the people in your mobile address book by combining all the ways you want to be in touch – talk, chat, share videos, photos and files”, using a standardised, universal service.
    However, six year after the first specifications were developed, RCS (or Joyn, its marketing name) has been launched only by a very small number of mobile operators in the world.
    Isn’t this a missed opportunity for Telcos to raise in the value chain?

    • Alain, thanks for the comment and the discussion on RTC/Joyn. I will get to how telcos might want to think about the voice and personal communications market in a few blog posts time… I agree that telecom operators have assets here but they need to act fast before the network effect slips completely from their hands.

  4. Probably one of the difficulties telcos are facing is i) the general perception that all data networking is ‘the Internet’ and nothing else; ii) the fact that the Internet architecture and protocols mostly focuses on communicating endpoints (devices) following the ‘best effort’ dogma.

    Telcos are enables of distributed computing, and they should position themselves as this. Distributed computing is not about communicating devices (endpoints) with a uniform service, but about providing distributed Inter-Process Communication services tailored to different distributed applications. There are many different applications with very different requirements, so there’s a lot of room for differentiation in the provisioning of IPC services – which clearly contrasts with the current scenario of all telcos selling the same product ‘broadband’ to everyone-. All of this would become much easier with RINA – an internetworking architecture that natively supports these concepts – than with TCP/IP networking …

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