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2014: the rise of the Open Telco?

I’m comfortable pointing out that we were early spotters of what we thought at the time to be a likely trend toward telco OTT services. (have a look at this 2009 discussion on what we called the ‘Rise of the Open Telco’).

In this and in otber discussions, we posed the idea of telcos going ‘over the top’ to get a share of burgeoning IP or Internet services and applications busuiness. And we thought partnering, having a more open infrastructure and making services available for third parties to exploit would also yield results. In effect, going with the flow had to be a better approach, we thought, than standing mid-stream and shouting “stop”.

At a certain point, incumbent IT companies always yield and change tack once it becomes apparent that the change they dread is going to happen whether they want it or not. The only question is “can they come along for the ride?”

So only four years later and at last open telco-ness does appear to be flowing through almost as we’d prognosticated it and the “I know we’ve been rude about you, but can we come along for the ride” question is being asked.

So in that spirit we’d like to predict that next year there wil be lots of activity around what we’ve decided we want to call Open Telco-ness. The politically incorrect ‘OTT’, being a pejorative term and consigned to the dustbin.

The Open Telco brings IP competition right into the tent. Instead of “combatting” the OTTs (that hoary old war-cry) it (or an independent division) essentially becomes an OTT itself. In other words it uses IP and all its advantages, devises its own services and deploys them over its own and (most importantly) its peers’ IP infrastructure. It also, as it must, work with other OTTs and partners if it’s to get the full benefit of the new credo.

So what changes in 2014? Well, as always nothing changes as fast or as furiously as the case made out for it would have you believe.

We expect to see new telco business models that enable telcos to build their own services and applications and run them across the Internet in fair competition with all who sail on her, beginning to happen in ernest in 2014. The earth won’t move next year. It might even, given the way these things nearly always go, be a bit of a no-show in terms of revolutionary changes and gasp-inducing launches and business moves, but several pieces of the puzzle are already moving into place.

M2M and IoT: This is a huge (but again, slow-moving) extention of the pervasive IP world. It will be IP. It will be competitive. Telcos must be leading from the front on this.

The programmable network: Software Defined Networking and Network Functions Virtualisation may be several years away but forget the details - just to think about adopting these IT technologies indicates a cultural change for telcos. It sets a direction of travel in terms of services and competition too.

WebRTC (real time communications) will be one of the big technical buzzes in 2014 and it plays like nothing else into Open Telco Internet services.

And we will see Open Telco enablers, a sure sign that something new is stirring. More on these items in the coming days.

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