This week I am attending the fourth Emerging Communications Conference, or eComm America 2010, with the byline “What’s Next in Telecom, Mobile and Internet Communications”. The first morning was probably one of the best overall sessions for providing an update of where several major players are taking their offerings and how they are contributing to bring more value add into real time communications experiences.
Erik Winkler, CEO of Bit Torrent, whose peer-to-peer file transfer service gets caught up in the Net Neutrality debate since their service has the potential to take over all the traffic to an end user during a download, talked about management of congestion and differentiated it as an issue that is independent of management of content issues. Offering a solution that represented a win for consumers, the communications industry and publishers, he talked about taking a “congestion control approach” to address the problem with recommendations that leave management of content out of the issue:
- manage for congestion
- manage in a protocol agnostic manner
- meter fairly
- re-think download caps since they have no obvious link to congestion
- incent network friendly behavior
Next up was Craig Walker, Group Product Manager, Google Voice who talked about moving communications into the cloud. (As a hint to Google’s overall tactics, I had attended a Mobile Monday event in Toronto two weeks ago; the feature presentation talked about “moving communications into the cloud” from a mobile device perspective.) Craig started out with the economic arguments for this shift, eliminating server hardware and oversight resources from a business’s communications costs. As a result a startup can generate interesting communications applications without having to deal with the capital cost overhead of a traditional telco. And he concluded with an overview of Google Voice and how it can provide a person with a “Find Me, Follow Me” single number to reach the person at any of multiple end point devices, while at the same time managing the voice mail that can arise from having multiple “numbers” to reach those end points.
Next we learned some insight into the U.S. National Broadband plan from Carlos Kirjner, Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. His three major discussion points: “Why the Plan?”, “The ‘Aha’ Moments” and “How to Make It Better”:
Why: Congress mandated it but there’s really a fundamental revolution, at a level similar to the introduction of the printing press and electricity, taking place that will impact the U.S. economy
The Aha’s: The need to consider the entire ecosystem that brings together a national broadband infrastructure: not simply connectivity but also devices, applications, network, consumer issues, regulatory issues and legal constraints. He went on to define what FCC sees as the role of government including competition policy that will drive and foster innovation, assets to be managed such as spectrum allocation, universal service mechanisms and, not to be overlooked, laws, rules and standards for key sectors.
With respect to competition he emphasized the importance of tracking and benchmarking actual behavior, lowering barriers to entry, device competition, application innovation and empowering consumers. In closing his third major point was to ask for feedback while noting that real data beats analyses which, in turn, beats out opinions when it comes to setting policies.
After the morning break, we heard from Jonathan Rosenberg, Skype’s Chief Technology Strategist, whose presentation on Social Sharing 2.0 and the role of Real Time Communications will be the subject of a separate post.
Jonathan was followed by one of his former Cisco colleagues, Cullen Jennings, a Distinguised Engineer in the CTO office at Cisco, on the subject of Identity for Global Communications and that least common denominator of voice calling identity, the phone number. Cisco’s proposed ViPR technology combines a Distributed Hash Table, the PSTN and SIP to provide “Blue Sky Computing” that can validate that a number being called is actually reaching the party whom one really wants to communicate with for privacy or security reasons. It’s a peer-to-peer solution that has implications for communications business models.
The morning session concluded with two product announcements; both designed to provide intelligent business communications solutions that facilitate PBX-type functionality for managing calls to the appropriate end point within a business’s ecosystem: Ringio (a startup launched yesterday) and CounterPath’s new Nomadic PBX. Both could be represented as solutions for a mobile Call Center with different approaches to the issue and target markets.
Bottom Line: Overall I came out this session with a lot to absorb but impressed with not simply the thinking behind these offerings but also the execution that is taking place to make these solutions a reality.
Note re photos: Photo by James Duncan Davidson, the show photographer.
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