Award Winning Blog

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Top Ten Insights from the 33rd Annual Conference of the Pacific Telecommunications Council

I have just returned from my annual trek to Honolulu and the PTC Conference; see http://www.ptc.org/ptc10/index.php. Living in a place with extraordinary cloudiness and chill, I look forward to a brief respite despite the frequent airline screw-ups that this time occurred both inbound and outbound (20+ hrs each way plus the unique opportunity to hang out on the tarmac of the Quad Cities airport located in Moline, Il.)

Here are my top ten insights from the conference:

1) Internet-mediated video (particularly 3D) will continue to pump up demand for bandwidth. Both satellite and submarine cable operators talked about offering capacity capable of delivering multiple Terabytes (1000 to the power of 4) capacity.

2) While voice may not offer much revenue prospects as a standalone retail service, consumers still need the application and service providers look to embed it everywhere. It’s possible that in the future we might key in a telephone number in an Internet browser to connect seamlessly. That makes the browser a “universal client.”

3) Ebay may have given up on Skype prematurely. Skype now carries 12% of all international calls, not all of which are free PC-to-PC traffic.

4) Look for further blurring of the line between web-mediated and real time communications with social network sites offering real time messaging coupled with the ability to tag voice to content.

5) The conference emphasis on cloud computing may have been overhyped, but I left convinced that software increasingly will become a service instead of something infrequently installed and updated on one’s hard drive.

6) There is cause for optimism that the “lost” continent of Africa will start to have true broadband access at least on the eastern side. As major markets reach some type of saturation the profit motive makes Africa more attractive even at vastly reduced margins. Bear in mind that wireless operators in Africa have offered service for pennies a minute while generating a respectable profit.

7) As smartphones proliferate look to wireless as the preferred convergence medium for many consumers. Dr. Robert Pepper of Cisco offered an estimate that two thirds of all mobile traffic will be video by 2013. Operators can expect vast demand, but will it come from 4 million customers downloading 50 YouTube videos per month or 2 high definition movies? The aggregate throughput demand is the same—18 petabytes. Speaking of YouTube, I heard that the company is spending up to $2 million a day in Internet capacity to offer its mostly free services.

8) Satellite carriers will have the capacity to offer 100 Gigabits per second service soon and some operators are thinking about installing router functionality on the bird instead of on the ground.

9) There was very little discussion about network neutrality, but a lot about offering differing quality of service performance guarantees.

10) Lastly, it was remarkable to see that most of the major conference sponsors are based outside the U.S. The intellectual, financial and entrepreneurial juice seems more widely distributed as never before. Thanks to financiers’ fees that helped bankrupt the home telephone company, Hawaiian Telcom, the conference had limited local color even as it provided shorter flying times for the dealmakers.

21 comments:

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It seems to me that points 1-8 address net neutrality at their core even if no-one would utter the evil (for incumbents and vendors) phrase! Thanks for such an interesting report, no need for me to go to Waikiki then...!

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