Vendor keynotes underwhelm at BBWF

Alan Quayle/Alan Quayle WebLog
12 Nov 2012

Broadband World Forum (BBWF) continues to be a 'sweet spot' conference, not as big as Mobile World Congress (MWC) where prices are silly and domination by the big vendors makes operator meetings all too brief, and not so small that it does not attract senior figures from around the industry.

Before getting into the meat of the conference review, congratulations to Jeremy Steventon-Barnes and his team for winning the BBWF Changing Lives Award for Superfast Cornwall - a public-private partnership between Cornwall Development Company and BT. Jeremy and his team have some excellent experience and advice for the rest of the industry on how to deploy fiber with a fiber mind-set, not a copper mind-set, which has a critical impact on the project’s return on investment (RoI).

The operator and customer keynotes were good, [but] the vendor keynotes left much to be desired. If a platinum sponsor is spending €250,000 ($317,000) plus on sponsorship, stand, and people the least they should do is have a good keynote. So please Ericsson no more “billions of devices so give us billions of dollars,” Huawei “buy it all from us,” and Alcatel-Lucent “people prefer broadband to sex!” The keynote is not for you to repeat the same tired old market messages that have never worked in the past and continue not to work.

[Games industry guru] Ian Livingstone gave an excellent keynote presentation on the gaming industry, its history, and where it's going. His core message is they need more capacity, much more capacity. The industry is changing to a network-centric model rather than disk-centric, where a typical game requires 9-GB of data just to download never mind play. [He also spoke about] the rise of social and online gaming, High Definition and Ultra HD, and [noted] next generation consoles will still have a disk because there isn't enough network capacity. Livingstone drew an analogy to the 1860's when Sir Joseph Bazalgette ignored all the critics when building London's sewers. He insisted on making the pipes six times bigger than anticipated demand.

The BBC keynote gave a great review of their experiences in supporting live Over The Top (OTT) video for the Olympics. They had some interesting data on when people use different devices, for example using the tablet to watch TV in bed. They use Elemental as their adaptive rate encoders. User experience is defined by the video quality, and adaptive bit rate is essential to use the capacity available given the screen size/resolution/device, but no more capacity than is required [to avoid] wasting the BBC's resources, [and] the network.

The Home Gateway remains an interesting discussion point in the industry - it's been going on for over two decades. My main problem with the Home Gateway Initiative is it is geeks talking to geeks in Service Providers. It lacks real Consumer Electronics backing, there's a lack of marketing involvement and a lack of customer insight.

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