It's a cultural change

The growth in software and terminals vs network equipment spending. The trend is towards an even higher percentage of spending in terminals and software in this and the next decade. Credit:

A brief outline of the introduction talk I gave yesterday at the EIT ICT Labs Future Network Solutions result day in Stockholm.

Network infrastructures were designed to sustain 3 minute call duration 6 times a day - symmetrical traffic and average 1.44 MB per transaction. And nice names like Erlang were used to characterise the capacity and use of a network.

A big change in the traffic “flow” was brought by the Internet that required supporting asymmetric traffic and higher bandwidth.

The advent of IoT is placing more demands on the network in terms of transaction number and is changing once more the traffic curve.

The computer network culture is now coming to a clash with telecommunications culture. It did so from the very beginning but now it is changing the rules of the game as the economic leverage moves from the center of the network to its edges.

This actually is happening under the pressure of two forces: the capabilities at the edges and the evolution pace at the edges. Economics in the telecommunications market are now split 30% on network equipment and 70% on the terminals: the tail is wagging the dog.

It is also a fall out of the walled garden approach demise, and approach that has characterised the telecommunications networks from the very beginning. The Operators (in synch with telco manufacturers) controlled the whole network and network experience, including terminals. Answering machines in the 80ies and then personal fax machines created a first breach in the monolithic structure.

We usually refer to the Over The Top as evidence of this dramatic change. But I feel there are more profound shaking hitting the telecom market. One of this is the different culture brought in by the players at the edges.

The kind of service you get from kinds like Apple is on a different planet from the one you get from a Telco.

If something does not work in the delivery of a service Apple gives you the money back. A Telco, on the contrary, will spend huge amount of money to try fix the issue that created the problem. From a user experience point of view there is no story. Apple wins hands down on customer satisfaction.

Quality of Service has been the flag to wave and it still is for Telecom Operators. The problem is that Operators measure QoS with oscilloscopes, OTT measure it in terms of Quality of Experience and users perception.

I would say that economics, market evolution and fleeting users interests are strongest drivers in network evolution today and in the next decade than technology evolution.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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