Everything new is new again

Keith Willets, TM Forum

If you've been reading my columns with any regularity, you'll know that even though I've been in the communications business longer than I might care to admit, I'd like to think I'm still pretty connected when it comes to new technologies, new services and new ways of doing business.

I like nothing more than to see and experience the latest and greatest trends in the industry like 3DTV or the newest 4G handset. One really interesting type of service we're starting to hear is about is a space called "augmented reality," which is an inspired amalgamation of capabilities you find on smartphones where you might point your camera at something like the Empire State Building, and the GPS in your phone knows where you are, searches through what you're likely looking at through your camera lens and then offers you all kinds of results like a Wikipedia entry on the historic building, information on tickets to get to the top of the building or where's the nearest McDonald's. Cool and not actually any breakthrough technology, just an inspired orchestration of what is already there.

In a way, I think that's a lesson for CSPs facing a growing disparity between the demands of the market for more bandwidth coupled with its unwillingness to actually pay for it. One solution is to endlessly search for new novel services to deliver, but another is to do more of the same in new creative ways.

Some new services like IPTV are quietly becoming pretty successful for some operators; others are working in partnership with different suppliers in the value chain on areas like mobile money. Cloud services may be another growth area, but all of these are very "network heavy" services.

Contrast that with app stores, content and advertising where CSPs seem to be losing momentum compared to the "over the top" players, and the old Michael Porter dictum of sticking to your core competencies starts to show through. So other network-based services like hi-fi voice are an obvious play even if they are unlikely to drive much in the way of new revenues, but they will go a long way to keeping existing customers happy.

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