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Sunday, June 01, 2014

June: Mobile broadband, WebRTC & a bit of cloud/NFV

This blog has been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks, but June is going to be a busy month. This is a quick post to tell you what's upcoming & to put it in context.

First up, June is "WebRTC Month" for some reason. There's at least 5 events I know about, and I'm expecting a flood of announcements as well

I'll be speaking and moderating at next week's big telco-centric IIR "service platforms" event in Munich on June 10-11 which has a specific WebRTC stream, as well as a parallel themes about telecom APIs and legacy networks evolution. Colleagues & partners Martin Geddes & Alan Quayle will be there too, if you need an overdose of telecoms vision and cynicism.

On the US scene, I'll also be at the huge WebRTC World Conference in Atlanta on June 17-19, where I'll be moderating various sessions (mostly on Service Providers & WebRTC) and also be one of the demo judges.

At both of those events I'll be presenting some of my current thinking on the WebRTC market, reflecting recent updates to my WebRTC research studies & reports. I'm also interested in meetings / briefings, so please contact me and I'll try to juggle my schedule. I'm especially interested in talking to telcos which are working on WebRTC projects or assessing the technology for future opportunities.

There's a few other things going on as well - another WebRTC conference in New York at the same time as the Munich one, plus a customer-service WebRTC event in Las Vegas, and last but not least Chris Koehnke & Tsahi Levent-Levi's developer-focused KrankyGeek gig in SF at the end of the month.
After all that imminent WebRTC frenzy, watch out for a big refresh of my research work coming up soon after - drop me a line if you'd like advance details or pre-order combined with my current study.

On the Mobile Broadband front, this is going to be a big week. I'm just proof-reading the brand new Disruptive Analysis strategy report on "Non-Neutral Mobile Broadband Business Models". I mentioned it in my last post, but decided to delay publication in order to add in more quantitative analysis and forecasts. UPDATE - REPORT PUBLISHED - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Obviously, Net Neutrality is a huge topic at the moment, with the various debates on FCC proposals and EU Commission "telecoms package" ongoing. What nobody has drilled into is "what difference is this actually going to make?" in terms of possible addressable market and revenues by the carriers.

What the new report does is to look - quantitatively and qualitatively - at the most important new concepts such as Sponsored Data, Application-Based Charging, QoS-enhanced "Specialised Services" and Zero-Rating. It focuses specifically on Mobile broadband and Internet access, which often gets overlooked in all the confusing noise about Netflix, which is mostly fixed-centric.

A couple of teasers....
  • In 2019, new non-neutral mobile data business models will account for $25bn worldwide. Of that $18bn will be incremental to the traditional access market, the rest substitutive.
  • While that sounds a lot, it's still only about 6% of the total Mobile Broadband market. It is arguable whether that makes all the extra lawyers, lobbyists, equipment, software and negative PR worthwhile for many mobile operators
  • The most interesting & valuable use-case for sponsored data will be around paid traffic for advertising content, not so-called "toll-free" apps or general websites
  • Business and M2M use-cases for mobile broadband and QoS-based prioritsation will be very important. Additionally, these will largely be "uncontroversial" and so could (should?) be split off from the more contentious aspects of Net Neutrality
  • Zero-rating of mobile apps or content will continue growing in importance - with more than a billion users worldwide by 2019. There are some open questions about neutrality & competitive dynamics here, but developing-world users will be widely targeted with such offers in particular.
Watch out over the next few days for more details on the report and analysis. Email information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com if you're interested in buying the report or organising a workshop or other advisory input on this area.

The last area I'm giving a lot of thought to is NFV and "cloud communications", especially applied to voice and video - and tying into WebRTC and also IMS. Obviously, there's a whole host of WebRTCaaS platform providers that I'll be watching closely (including Tokbox's new deal with Mozilla). But there's also a lot going on in terms of offering bits of IMS infrastructure on a hosted and virtualised basis.

I was at Metaswitch's [disclosure: a client] customer conference last month hearing about its Clearwater open-source IMS cloud platform, I can see the benefits of having an environment to use either as an easier/cheaper testbed, or as a scalable system for certain new services such as fixed VoIP or hosted UC. The open-source side is fascinating too, as it potentially allows telcos to exploit business models that traditional vendors' equipment licences tend to inhibit, such as freemium services or "guest access", perhaps via WebRTC. Operators need to go beyond the legacy model of "subscribers" towards a much richer and flexible view of "users", as Internet companies have conclusively demonstrated.

One thing I am increasingly aware of is the number of different manifestations of "cloud comms" though. It can mean things like Clearwater, or it can mean virtualised resources such as media-servers or SBCs, or it can mean various voice/video platforms (Twilio, Tokbox, Temasys, Tropo et al), or it can mean fully-hosted/outsourced VoIP services such as Alianza's or it can mean.... You get my point. I'd quite like to define some more meaningful terms and segmentation for cloud communications, if I can.

(All that said, I'm still not swayed by NFV/cloud-hosted versions of the perenially-useless RCS, obviously - although for those telcos that insist, failing quickly and cheaply before switching to something better - selling cheese, perhaps - is a definite advantage)

So - June is about WebRTC, Mobile Broadband and Cloud/NFV. Only about 80% of the telecoms industry, so it shouldn't be too stressful! Feel free to leave me feedback here, via @disruptivedean, or on various threads and discussions on LinkedIn

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