The central theme of Mobile World Congress 2014 for me was clearly Connected Living. I’ve been attending Mobile World Congress for quite some time — 2006 was my first, the year that it moved to Barcelona from Cannes. And, this year felt different. No longer did the event feel dominated by handset manufacturers and equipment providers. Mobile World Congress is no longer a telecom event; it is clearly a mobile event. Mobility has penetrated every industry and every aspect of life, and that diversity is now clearly felt at the show. The large presence of car manufacturers and the buzz around Facebook indicate a definitive changing of the guard. That shift is ongoing. The proliferation of connected devices, the explosion of over-the-top services and the rise of the data economy will continue to shape the industry. But for me, this year I felt excitement around our new connected lives.
Who would think that the words “... we reject Verizon’s challenge to the Open Internet Order’s disclosure rules, we vacate both the anti-discrimination and the anti-blocking rules. We remand the case to the Commission for further proceedings ...” could set off a firestorm of public debate? All it really says is that broadband service providers must inform their customers if and when they block or hinder the passage of lawful information across their broadband connection.
The clear message the US Court of Appeals is sending to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to regulate appropriately. The Appeals Court actually affirmed the appropriateness of the FCC's role in ensuring fair access to the internet. The issue is that the FCC declared their authority based on broadband access being a "common carrier" service even though they had declared it to be a competitive service in earlier actions. So the issue the court dealt with is jurisdictional discretion, not outright authority or correctness of "net neutrality."
Consumer activist champions are chomping at the bit to call this a free license for broadband operators to block or throttle competing services - the truth of the matter is that most broadband service providers have already committed to abide by the existing set of rules (or as Captain Jack Sparrow would say "guidelines") with Comcast in particular committing to abide by the guidelines as part of the approval of their acquisition of NBC. Consumers are protected not by the FCC mandating network architectures and operations, but by the disclosure or transparency requirement -- which was upheld. If providers block, they must disclose.
I was in Singapore two weeks ago and had the chance to meet Malcolm Rodrigues and Greg Mittman from an emerging broadband service provider called MyRepublic. MyRepublic is a new service-based operator (SBO) licensed in Singapore in 2011, purpose-built for Singapore’s national broadband network (NBN). Since the launch of the NBN service in Singapore, it has created new opportunities for SBOs to lease the network from OpenNet, the company that operates the NBN in Singapore and sell high-speed fiber broadband services to consumers and businesses in the island country. And MyRepublic is one of the most interesting companies I have seen, with an innovative business/go-to-market model that:
Has an operational model based on light assets. Leveraging the NBN network and a neutral operation company, MyRepublic is able to get access to the nationwide fiber broadband network at the same price as other established telecom operators in Singapore, including the incumbent SingTel. It only needs to put its own gateways and other limited network assets at OpenNet for service provisioning, network monitoring, billing, etc.
Carrier IQ software, which consists of embedded software on mobile devices and server-side analytics applications, enables mobile operators and device OEMs to understand in detail a wide range of performance and usage characteristics of mobile services and devices. These include both network-facing services such as core voice and data offerings, as well as non-network-facing capabilities such as music players, cameras and other side loaded media, in order to assist with product and service development and roll-out [emphasis added].
Customer Intelligence is not a spying operation. The promise of CI is not reductively commercial. Instead, proper CI practices help businesses – with their customers' consent – to understand the preferences and needs of their customers. Firms also use CI processes and technologies to determine and enforce an optimal and respectful relationship with customers.
What lessons does the Carrier IQ incident highlight?
CI pros have an ethical responsibility to customers.CI pros are customer advocates after all. They cannot truly represent customers unless they also help their employers understand appropriate boundaries for data capture. Helping customers also helps businesses, protecting firms from the risk of public outrage and litigation. CI pros: Help your employers understand when data capture goes too far.
A growing number of workers own personal smartphones that they might want to use for work. However, IT support costs and security implications for personal mobile devices connected to the corporate network are unclear.
As a result, sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals need tools to improve visibility into the real costs of their firm's mobile program. Moreover, this challenge will grow as most firms expand their bring-your-own mobile programs during the next three years.
SVMs also want tools that improve transparency and accountability around mobile work apps for things like enterprise software license compliance by personal device users. Smart SVMs at firms with many or a fast growing population of mobile information workers have already studied or are studying ways to mitigate mobile cost and security risks associated with allowing employees to use personal devices like smartphones and tablets for work.
Mature market telecom operators can learn from many of their fellow service providers in emerging markets. Recognizing that contexts differ – and they certainly do – there is still a sharp contrast in approaches to their markets. Ellen Daley and I just returned from India where we met with Indian telecom operators and services firms, and conducted an interactive session with telecom product and service providers – Forrester TelecomNext 2010. Both were an opportunity for us to listen and learn as well as share our observations on the industry.
With well over 500 million subscribers and a growth rate of more than 11% a quarter in 2009, the Indian mobile market is certainly attractive. But, Indian telecom operators face a tough competitive environment with some “circles” having upwards of a half dozen or more service providers (there are 23 telecom regions in India, known as “circles”), and the overall market packed with thirteen competitors. ARPUs are low and shrinking, with an average of about $2/month in March 2010. And, the price tag for 3G licenses in India added additional pain, with some vendors paying almost $3 billion in the spectrum auction. High costs and low revenues do not make for an easy road ahead.
At Cisco’s Collaboration Conference wrapping up in San Francisco today, Cisco doubled down on their bet on collaboration. Since acquiring WebEX in 2007, Cisco has not been shy in acquiring companies to rapidly fill out their Unified Communications and Collaboration Portfolio – 3 of the 4 acquisitions announced in the last month are directly beneficial to their collaboration portfolio – Starent enhances mobility, ScanSafe enhances security, and Tandberg enhances open video capabilities. Cisco has also tasked their development teams with improving and delivering new products enabling them to deliver a dizzying 61 distinct new products and product upgrades. A year after publicly proclaiming their intent to compete aggressively in the collaboration market, Cisco is leveraging their agility and speed to deliver a cacophony of capabilities to the market.
Cisco’s Collaboration Portfolio is keeping up with the Jones... and the Smiths and the Johnsons
Avaya has announced today, July 20, 2009, their desire to acquire Nortel’s Enterprise Business Unit and the shares of Nortel Government Solutions and DiamondWare, Ltd, bidding $475M for the businesses. Avaya has offered to assume $28M in debt associated with Nortel Government Solutions as part of the transaction. This kicks off a set of processes that will lead to a new owner for Nortel – and it may be Avaya or some other bidder.
Why are Nortel and Avaya interested in joining forces?
I have just returned from the Annual International Nortel Networks Users Association (INNUA) Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. At the event, I was again struck by the loyalty of the Nortel customer base. There were 1,500 some in attendance. I saw Nortel customers and partners who hailed from Boston to San Francisco and as far away as Denmark, India, and Brazil. Nortel had a group of nearly 250 partners from the Carribean and Latin America in town for training as well. Attendance was down considerably (nearly cut in half) compared to last year, but those who were in attendance were serious – considering their options and Nortel’s future. While Nortel compared their history to Pittsburgh’s – a gritty town with staying power that has reinvented itself for the new economy – customers really wanted to know about the future. Nortel preferred to focus on comparisons to the six time World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers – customers wanted to compare then to the Pittsburgh Penguins wondering whether they could pull off one more win to take the Cup.