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April 27, 2011

New Business Models: Half Future Telco Growth in the next 3 years

Senior industry executives in Palo Alto at the 12th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm agreed that half of the telco growth available in the next 3 years would come from the new business model opportunities identified in the ‘Roadmap to new Telco 2.0 Business Models’ report. The other half would come from improvements to the current business model. Headline findings in brief here on our research portal.

NB We’ll also be discussing all of the issues outlined here and more in the 13th Executive Brainstorm in London, 11-13 May 2011. Please see here for more details, email contact@telco2.net, or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003.

chart 1 six opportunity findings april 20 2011.png

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April 26, 2011

Telco 2.0 News Review: Amazon Cloudburst, YouView, Netflix, Apple

[Ed - It’s just two weeks to the 13th Telco 2.0 EMEA Executive Brainstorm in London, May 11th - 13th - with lots more on Cloud, Digital Entertainment, Apps, Personal Data, M2M, Google / Apple / Facebook and the rest of our agenda. We hope to see some of you there - register now here.]

Now there’s a technology disruption for you - a complex, multi-day, multi-service, multi-zone Amazon Web Services outage. It’s far from clear what exactly happened, but it seems to be associated with their Elastic Block Service product (which emulates local disk access) and possibly also with internal networking. Most AWS clients using availability zones in their US-East service area, and some others, were seriously affected, bringing a lot of very large Web sites to a grinding halt.

AWS advertises its availability zones as being fully independent from each other and therefore suitable for a redundant, high availability architecture - but somehow, the failure that began in their Northern Virginia data centre took out clients that had invested in multi-AZ service to guard against a major outage. Netflix rode out the crisis, but as the Hacker News thread makes clear, this was mostly because their AWS usage is not just scaled to handle the loss of a whole AZ, but also distributed between the US-East, US-West, and Tokyo Regions.

It is possible that they may not be fully satisfied by Amazon’s crisis communications, as this service status dashboard from the height of the incident shows and this customer thinks.

Data Center Knowledge has a detailed report, quoting Amazon as saying that the problem began with a major hardware failure that resulted in a large number of EBS volumes needing to be replicated quickly. This seems to have led to a cascade failure, as the remaining ones went over capacity. And the storm of activity seems to have pushed the control plane for EBS over the edge, which might explain how the segregation between availability zones was breached. This certainly shouldn’t happen given the service-level agreement, which specifies that AZs are meant to be physically independent of each other. The point is also made that Amazon’s own products seem to use some sort of private API that really does enforce more robust segregation of redundant systems - Amazon.com somehow got away without losing any time.

DCN reports on the progress of the recovery effort, pointing out that a subset of EBS customers were facing significantly longer delays before their data was restored from backup.

Voice 2.0 star Twilio is a heavy user of AWS products, but like Netflix they succeeded in disabling the rogue HAL-9000s and continuing their mission. Their Engineering Blog gives an account of how they kept going.

There’s more discussion in this tongue-in-cheek High Scalability thread.

Meanwhile, just to make the point that being a telco doesn’t necessarily make you more reliable, Vodafone Hutchison Australia enjoyed a seven-hour nationwide SMS outage over Easter. But our adjacent-player friends don’t have any more luck. Sony’s PlayStation Network, the cloud/web service element of the PlayStation that provides their app store, online gaming, private chat, and the like, was down for six whole days and counting after hackers got into it.

Sony pushed out a software update last year that made it impossible to run unauthorised software on the games machines - until then, some intrepid souls had been doing things like running Linux on them and using their powerful graphics processors to build high-performance computing clusters. Since then, their name has been mud, especially after Sony decided to sue George Hotz, the man who jailbroke the first iPhone and who had also come up with a way of circumventing the new restrictions. Anonymous swore revenge on them and it looks like the revenge was delivered. Somewhere in the PSN are 75 million users’ details including large numbers of credit cards. Details of the whole mess are here.

As of this morning, the system was still down, with the developer relations page saying only that “emergency maintenance” was underway. It is theorised that unofficial firmware that allowed full dev access to the system is circulating.

The tech specifications for YouView, the UK broadcasters’ proposed set-top box platform, have been released in a mere 229 page slab of light reading. We’ll be commenting further on this, but it’s worth pointing out that it seems to foresee a very content-provider centred software ecosystem. YouTube might become a UK TV station in this scenario. It’s all based on Linux, but it’s also heavily influenced by rightsholders’ demands for DRM. (Google, meanwhile, pulled back from shutting down Google Video and merging it into YouTube this week.)

Netflix, having survived the asteroid colliding with Amazon Web Services and fought off the zombies, announced that its profits were up 88 per cent year on year, while it was only 5,000 subscribers behind Comcast. However, that wasn’t enough for the vampire squid of Wall Street - the shares fell 5 per cent, driven by fears of a (YouView-like) better-TV offering from the broadcasters or MSOs.

Did a leak suggest that Apple’s iPad shipments might be worse than expected? Or was it an exercise in expectations-management in itself, a red herring? Are we facing the end of the PC era, as the tablets take over?

Horace from Asymco thinks not, and he was clearly right to. Apple’s earnings surged ahead, by 92%, something (as Fortune Tech points out) the bloggers called but Wall Street missed. But the only thing the Street called right was that the iPad sales were a miss. Instead, sales of iPhones and - remember them? - Apple Macs were much better than expected. (We might pause to remember the prediction that the iPad would be the dominant player in the tablet market, but that’s nothing like being the dominant player in the PC or smartphone markets.)

Meanwhile, a survey of developer interest shows that Apple’s tab is well ahead of the ‘droid armies, but then again, that’s as nothing to the gap between “Android tablet” and all the rest.

Horace also wonders if Apple is undervalued and if so, if it’s because of Android. He argues that, given the numbers involved, if that was true then Apple should just buy the whole of Google and shut down the Android division.

But here’s a question - what if you shut down the Android division at Google, and the ‘droids kept coming? 75% of the Android codebase by size (which is a somewhat misleading metric) originates outside it, elsewhere in the open source world. You can see why some people are getting sick of Google. And the biggest external contributor (by commits, not lines of code - a much more relevant measure) is…Nokia.

After all, Android activations don’t seem to correlate clearly with Google’s share price while Apple iOS shipments most assuredly do. The vendors love it, of course - they get to make phones like this Samsung Galaxy S2, drooled over at Computer Weekly, although Apple and Samsung are suing each other.

Meanwhile, Google has lost a patent lawsuit, although the fact that the plaintiff is also suing Amazon, MySpace, PayPal, and a list of every website most people would name in a free-association test suggests this is probably just more patent trolling.

Need a private app store for your enterprise? Here’s how.

With 900 million users in China, 303 million of whom have used Internet services on their phone, there’s surely quite a bit of cake to go around, especially when you count in India and note that Nokia’s market share there is now down to “only” 52%.

On the other hand, a fascinating post on user time spent with different desktop applications has come to our attention. Did you know Google Apps products were ahead of MS Word? Here’s an interesting interview with the head of Google’s enterprise products.

Here’s some insight into Google data center operations, to follow the last issue’s Open Compute Platform coverage. They’re also buying wind power.

Gartner has surveyed Itanium server customers, and concludes that 48% of them, not quite a simple majority but a hefty plurality, believe Intel when it promises several new generations of the chips rather than Oracle when it claims they’re on the way out (and probably HP-UX with them). They have their reasons - Intel has signed up a little Chinese company known as Huawei to make high availability servers for their telco customers with the chips.

Intel has also been hunting for partners for the MeeGo Linux they were left with after the Nokia/Microsoft deal. They’ve so far recruited LG, ZTE, China Mobile, and Tencent (QQ’s parent compahy), which at least suggests the possibility of some sort of a future in China.

Nokia, meanwhile, gave some more detail on the Microsoft deal. Apparently the $99 MS Windows Marketplace signup is going to be waived for a year for developers moving across from Symbian, and Nokia is going to receive “substantial” payments from MS.

Meanwhile, InfoWorld tests a RIM PlayBook and isn’t at all happy. To use any BlackBerry services, the device has to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone. Not just that, it has to be linked to a BlackBerry to use any e-mail server at all - it doesn’t have its own mail client. And unfortunately, the necessary server application on the BlackBerry is verboten for AT&T subscribers. Further, RIM’s PC-sync application didn’t work with it (although it does behave sensibly as a USB device) and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server device-management functions don’t support the tablet. The reviewer also encountered countless assorted bugs.

Compare and contrast a German review in Handelsblatt, which is much more favourable - but this is probably explained by the fact that RIM shipped him a new BlackBerry to go with the PlayBook, thus getting around some of the problems. However, they noted that it was impossible to manage even the factory-installed apps from the BlackBerry, and also had bad things to say about the e-mail problem. On the other hand, they absolutely raved over the hardware.

Computer Weekly, meanwhile, also has a shiny out on review - but this one is a HP TouchPad. Things go much better, especially with regard to the software and the user interface. And swapping content between a TouchPad and a Pre by making them kiss is a neat trick. They point out that the TouchPad weighs considerably more than any of the other tablets, and is spotting them some hardware features too. In fact, RIM’s is the lightest at 400 grams - it’s beginning to look like RIM built the best hardware device and ruined it with terrible software.

Looking back at i-mode.

Over in the world of hardcore connectivity and networking, the Packet Pushers’ Podcast has a special on low-cost data centre kit. High Scalability says you should listen.

Benoit Felten has an excellent post about the TalkTalk/Virgin Media/Sky fibre joint venture in the UK, with links to work by his new startup on rural fibre deployment.

Renesys takes a look at the proposed Level(3)/Global Crossing merger and the consequences for the Internet. A merged company might have as much as 55% of the international transit market by prefix count, and it might be necessary for their customers to hook up two tier-one providers in order to avoid a single-point-of-failure.

Here’s something interesting - a British startup that wants to use the whitespace spectrum for low-power M2M networking. Their first challenge is to design a base station cheap enough to make it work, which is why they’re staffing up with Cambridge’s silicon design talent.

The Register has an interview with the people who took over Libyana’s GSM network in rebel territory and made it serve the people. The key elements were a new HLR from Tecore Networks and international interconnect from IDT Telecom in Telehouse Docklands, those and the stolen contents of “official” Libyana’s Benghazi VLR. The biggest problem is getting the crypto keys so that they don’t have to run A5/0 (i.e. with no encryption at all), although they’ve wisely left the billing system for later.

Here’s a business model for you - buy up 1-800 numbers from companies who are moving their customer services to the web, redirect them to sex lines, and charge the sex line owners for the extra traffic. Apparently the key is a software application that monitors the official database of 800s and automatically grabs them as they expire. It’s Voice 2.0, but not as you’d prefer.

O2’s International Favourites service emulates Skype To Go and lets you make cheap international calls using Jajah and a bank of numbers from Voxbone, who also provide Skype with its digits.

Freespee has a new case study about its local virtual-numbering and call analytics product. HOWTO build a Tropo-powered web voice application and deploy it to a free node.js hosting site. Phil Wolff asks sensible questions about what a better UI for Skype might look like.

Meanwhile, catch a recorded webinar with Dan York on multi-channel Call Centre 2.0 applications.

Everyone now knows that both iOS and Android log your GPS location to a local DB, sync it to iTunes, and report it to headquarters. It looks like both Google and Apple are doing this to fill up databases of WLAN and cell-site locations in order to provide better non-GPS location service, although the big question is what else they might do with it. Creep yourself out - plug your WLAN box’s MAC address into this page to see where Google thinks you are. (When we tried it, it got the street address wrong but the geographical location off by about 20 metres. Not close enough for a drone…yet.) Here’s an app to query the secret log on your iDevice.

In cheerier news, EverythingEverywhere has stopped helping itself to 10% of all charitable donations by SMS.

The European Commission doesn’t think we need net neutrality, but is concerned about cookies. On the other hand, the European Court of Justice rules against copyright enforcement at the ISP level. There’s going to be a key FCC workshop tomorrow on universal service, 4G, and satellite broadband. And here’s a horror story about ordering fibre that has to pass through a BT duct in the heart of Silicon Roundabout, within hurled iPhone of the Telco 2.0 offices. Handy tip for heavy linux configurers.

And they like us! they really like us!

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April 14, 2011

Telco 2.0 Roadmap: $375Bn Growth or Brutal Retrenchment?

Today we’re launching our groundbreaking 284 page Strategy Report ‘The Roadmap to New Telco 2.0 Business Models’ that plots the transformational path that telcos need to follow to achieve the $375Bn p.a. ‘Telco 2.0’ opportunities.

It describes:

• six key growth opportunity areas for the Telecoms industry;
• new categories of operators based on their potential to adopt the new opportunities;
• the primary strategies needed by each to evolve and thrive in the new industry environment;
• and highlights leading examples of telco business model innovation.

Roadmap cover image april 2011.png

Over the last three years, the Telco 2.0 Initiative has identified new business model growth opportunities for telcos of $375Bn p.a. in mature markets alone (see the $125Bn Telco 2.0 ‘Two-Sided’ Market Opportunity’ and New Mobile, Fixed and Wholesale Broadband Business Models Strategy Reports). In that time, most of the major operators have started to integrate elements of Telco 2.0 thinking into their strategic plans and some have begun to communicate these to investors.

The new ‘Roadmap’ report lays out a comprehensive strategy framework and the actions needed to achieve these opportunities in full (more here). We’ll also be sharing some of the findings at our forthcoming EMEA Executive Brainstorm, 11-13 May, London.

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April 11, 2011

Telco 2.0 News Review: HTC beats Nokia, Cloud & More

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed. We’re nearly over the jet-lag on our return from the excellent New Digital Economics brainstorm in Palo Alto last week of which more soon, so we’re now looking forward exactly one month to the EMEA Brainstorm in London, 11-13 May. Hope to see you there.]

Asymco Horace hails HTC’s market capitalisation overtaking Nokia’s - however, it’s worth pointing out that despite their spectacular, Android-fuelled volume growth, their average selling prices and margins have been flat at best for years. In late 2009 they briefly tried to jack up the prices and restore some margin power but saw their volumes hit a wall. There’s more in our Android executive briefing.

Thankfully, we’ve so far never been the subject of one of his analyst-bashing posts. In the latest instalment, Gartner gets a terrible beating for publishing 2015 forecasts with seven significant figures (!) of accuracy, which assume linear growth rates, that Windows Phone 7 smoothly takes over the entire Symbian market share without either gaining or losing ground net-net, and neither RIM, Android, or Apple iOS devices gain or lose share. Taking other forecasts into account, we can apparently expect Android shipments to peak in 2015 and decline sharply while no other player sees very much change in their market at all, except for Windows, which will see a sharp drop in 2015-2016 and then an equally strong recovery. Very confusing.

Back in the cloud, Facebook announced details of a massive new datacentre infrastructure this week. Like Google before it, the company has found it necessary to design its own servers and its own datacentres, and even its own power supply units. Exact details are at the link.

They’ve also published the designs as open-source specifications as part of the Open Compute Project, an unusual step in the datacentre/cloud world, which tends to be quite secretive. As a result, their work is likely to be available to customers of Dell and Hewlett-Packard’s server businesses, Rackspace hosting, and perhaps many more companies. HP has apparently already got a power supply unit out that implements the spec. There’s a roundup of reactions at Data Center Knowledge (where else?).

Interestingly, they may also be considering moving to ARM chips in their servers, which would permit them to do massively-multicore processing with the low power draw of what are, fundamentally, mobile-optimised devices. At the moment, the barrier is that ARM’s architecture has a hard limit to the maximum size of RAM it uses, and Facebook relies heavily on keeping things in RAM for performance reasons. It’s a fascinating piece, especially when Google’s ‘King of Data Centres’ (not quite his job title but close) weighs in.

Ars Technica points out that some of Google’s secret sauce in software, like MapReduce, was not only replicated by the open source community but bettered, and argues that Facebook (and the other Open Compute Project partners, basically a Silicon Valley who’s who) is hoping for something similar with the hardware designs.

Whatever Dell’s server business may be selling, Dell’s consumer business is buying. It looks like a major cloud play is in the offing, as the company prepares to build a network of big data centres around the world. E-mail archiving, online backup, and remote-desktop sharing are named as possible applications. Elsewhere, Apple is buying a lot of storage, and it looks like Oracle and HP are about to have a hell of a row down Highway 101. Oracle wants to stop supporting its software on Intel Itanium processors, which may not sound relevant to HP until you realise that the main reason to use HP’s flavour of Unix is to run a huge Oracle database on Itanium. As usual in the Valley, it’s co-opetition all the way down to the ground.

What makes the difference between the public and private cloud? Connected Planet reckons that if your customer has more than $1bn in turnover, go private. They also point out that:

It is in the years of trusted relationships that telecoms have built that their true value proposition lies over most other cloud providers. Already AT&T, BT, Orange Business Services and Verizon Business have started to beat out established players from the IT industry for that very reason.

Meanwhile, when biotech firm Genentech needed a really enormous batch job processing, they turned to Amazon Web Services. Consultants Cycle Computing put together a Linux cluster on EC2 with some 10,000 processor cores - enough that it might have briefly made the Top 500 supercomputer list - for eight hours’ protein-folding data mangling. It took 45 minutes to spin the beast up, and the bill came to $8,500. That’s a top 500 supercomputer for less than some suits cost. You couldn’t buy a decent car for that much. No wonder everyone’s obsessed by the cloud. Cycle’s blog post is here.

Amazon celebrated with some new features, for example letting you request EC2 clusters but only start them up when their price is running below a target level (i.e. when Amazon’s infrastructure has spare capacity). Also, four new use cases.

IBM announced its public cloud this week. It comes with a 99.5% availability SLA and consists exclusively of 64 bit Red Hat Linux machines.

In cloud communications news, here’s a nice HOWTO from the Tropo blog on building messaging and publish-subscribe applications with their service and the Redis database. One of their users is Opiniator, which provides Fizzback-like live customer feedback and analytics.

Want to implement IVRs in Skype? Here’s how, with sample code. To general astonishment and disbelief, this week saw an update for the Linux version of Skype, which brings in many of the features that have long been available in the Windows, Mac, and other versions, but not yet the adverts, and fixes a large number of bugs. There’s also a new version for Windows, with bug fixes and a couple of detail improvements.

Toktumi Line2 is targeting Skype with a variety of voice features, such as better integration with the cellular voice network and auto-attendants. We also saw lately that Fring is offering group video conferencing, like Skype, with the exception that it’s free. How long will that last? And here’s Dan York filming himself at EnterpriseConnect.

All this is nothing without connectivity. Here’s some roundup of reactions to Vodafone’s sale of its SFR stake, £7bn worth of just that. Telco 2.0’s Keith McMahon is not happy.

Armenia lost its Internet access last week when a 75-year old woman dug up a cable to steal the copper it didn’t contain. It’s somehow telling that the Russian air force and the massed hackers of the RBN couldn’t knock Georgia off line in the 2008 war, but an old lady with a shovel and a mercenary glint in her eye could take out Armenia without much trouble. (She’d have got Georgia as well had she been further upstream.)

A company is advertising special non-copper cables for use on cell sites, but this surely won’t work as the thieves typically only find out after they move the cables that they are worthless.

RevK curses the week before last’s BT Openreach outage.

Are British subscribers paying too much for mobile service? Billmonitor reckons that on average, they spend £200 worth a year on either overage or else on minutes, messages, or data they never use. Also, there are now 8,134,979 possible tariff options in Britain.

There was an absolute lobbyfest at the FCC’s workshop on inter-carrier pricing. Read on for some interesting shenanigans with termination fees and conference calls. Meanwhile, the FCC is opening gradually to the idea of “signal boosters”, but would much rather have femtocells (as would essentially anyone with any knowledge of mobile networks).

But who needs dodgy radio devices when AT&T iPhones drop two-and-a-half times as many calls as Verizon ones? Interestingly, it’s not the CDMA - Sprint is considerably worse than VZW, and GSM/UMTS operator T-Mobile beats both AT&T and Sprint into second place.

And Google’s acquisition of airline reservation company ITA is clear for take-off with a raft of anti-trust conditions attached. The G has to keep developing the software, hide third-party data from itself (good luck with that), and accept binding arbitration.

Meanwhile, Google attempted to clear up its patent problems by buying up $900 million worth of Nortel’s IPR. They also announced new enterprise device-management features for Android, which will be integrated in Google Apps for Business.

Andy Rubin blogged this week to clarify Google’s position on the various rows about Android, although it’s a statement that’s mostly remarkable for how little it says.

Google is apparently having a reorganisation, AllThingsD reports, in which it would give more authority to product-based divisions that would however all report directly to Larry Page as CEO. It does remind more than a little of the early days when they abolished managers and had all product engineers report straight to the chief engineer - unsurprisingly it didn’t work and Eric Schmidt had to bring back the bureaucrats. Page has now dropped the pilot, of course, and Schmidt is no longer involved in the day-to-day business…

In other Google news, they’ve acquired a music-sync company, Pushlife, which among other things knows how to integrate iTunes with RIM products. Numbers on the Moto Xoom Android tablet. And here’s something amusing - reciting poetry into Google Voice voicemail and blogging its attempt to transcribe it. That particular post seems to suggest that the system tries to classify calls into types, doesn’t it?

Video search firm Blinkx just bought an online ads company, Burst.

Nokia’s long-time PR chief leaves, and is interviewed about making the trip from being a paper company to mobile supremacy and some of the way back. GigaOM has a discussion of dead companies (although the E7 did ship to North American customers this week).

There’s still more trouble at SSL certificate authority Comodo, where even more compromised accounts have been discovered. The EFF’s SSL Observatory also keeps discovering that people have been signing SSL certs for domains that don’t exist. Amusingly, ThreatPost’s own SSL cert has expired, or at least it had when we visited. Fortunately, the UK government’s report-a-pervert page avoided any such risk by just sending everything in the clear.

In ironic security news, MySQL.com got hacked and, inevitably, it was an SQL injection attack, which seems to have disclosed a large number of passwords. As it’s a website for database developers and adminstrators, they are likely to be unusually sensitive. The Epsilon hack, meanwhile, looks like it may cost $100 million to clean up.

There will be no prosecution over the Phorm case.

Apple may not want Adobe Flash on iOS, but they have no such qualms about Adobe’s Creative Suite graphics products. We suspect using an iPad as a video- and photo-editing palette may be quite a lot of fun. Time Warner has had to drop 12 channels from its iPad app. Complaints about Verizon iPad 2 issues are legion.

And Steve Wozniak says he’d be willing to return to Apple.

Dave Birch wars with mobile payments doubters. Google has joined 31 other companies in the NFC Forum, but as Connected Planet asks, does it matter? Perhaps the ISIS NFC trial in Salt Lake City will help answer that.

Here’s an interesting interview on mobile money in Haiti, from the GSMA MMU Blog.

How the Guardian makes data visualisations. Asking the wrong questions about open data. Yes, people are that stupid. Russia, where LiveJournal is the free press. A British government agency finds some personal data rather than losing it, for once. Opera launches better e-mail. The world’s first laptop, 30 years ago this month. How “StartupBritain fooled me”.

And eComm founder Lee Dryburgh needs your help.

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April 6, 2011

How a US ‘4G’ Operator used Cloud Services to get to market in 100 days

This is a guest post by Shawn Price, President of Zuora, a Telco 2.0 partner and leading cloud billing solutions provider. Shawn is presenting at the New Digital Economics event on 6 April in Palo Alto. In the post he argues that the future of telco billing is in the cloud, and outlines a recent customer case study showing how an innovative US ‘4G’ Operator used cloud services BSS to get to market in 100 days.

The cloud has opened an array of new opportunities in communications, media and cloud services. Digital convergence is here, and now more than ever, the cloud matters for service providers to drive new revenue opportunities.

Changing of the Guard: Carrier Services to Apps and Third Party Services

Telcos / CSPs used to have it good. They used to be the one-stop shop for everything from the telephone to the phone service to add-on services like call waiting. But with the explosion of mobile devices, smart phones and tablets, the era of carrier dominance is over. Think about it. How excited do you get about your home phone service? Or what about your cellular service from AT&T, Verizon, or O2? As carrier services have become a commodity, it’s now the apps and third party services delivering voice, data, apps, and video that matter.

If you don’t believe in this, just look around you. How many people have an iPhone, iPad, Android or some other device and using it to get the latest news, watch videos, listen to music, play games, and search for the nearest restaurant. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, by 2015,there will be 7.2 billion mobile devices and more than 2/3 of network traffic will be consumed by video. Apple has more than 500,000 apps and had more than 10 billion apps downloaded since the launch of the AppStore. As a result, revenue per subscriber for traditional carriers is declining while apps and cloud services like Netflix are growing at a rampant pace.

zuora post april 6 2011.png

As Carriers Look to New Revenue Streams, Old Infrastructure Doesn’t Work

So how do carriers stay competitive amid all these new services? Do they acquire companies? Do they partner with cloud providers? Or do they launch their own? Over the past few years, we’ve seen different examples such as Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark to get into cloud services, BT’s acquisition of Ribbit to bring together the web and voice technology, or Tata Communications recent acquisition of one of my customers, Bitgravity to get into video. Should AT&T acquire Pandora and its 100M+ subscribers?

Unfortunately, most carriers and service providers are laden with heavy, complex OSS and BSS billing systems that were great for the era of IntraLACT voice dialing (which would charge different tolls for dialing into Manhattan versus Brooklyn), and not today’s fast paced environment where hundreds of new services and apps are launched every day.

How Open Range Got to market in 100 Days

Open Range Communications — a US wireless broadband provider - is an example of how the cloud can be used to get to market in 100 days. Open Range is an exciting company using 4G technology to deliver affordable wireless broadband to un-served and underserved rural American communities, and within the next three years, they will serve 555 communities and make their services available to approximately six million people.

Knowing they didn’t want to get in to the billing business and spend a lots of money on a billing system that would be difficult to change, my company, Zuora, gave Open Range a “frictionless 21st century system that was cloud based” with our Zuora for Comms solution. Some of Open Range’s requirements included fully automated processes from ordering to cash to system activation to billing, the flexibility to tailor a number of pricing packages and promotions to fit the unique requirements of different communities across 17 states, and the ability to sign customers in real-time via call center, online self-service, and door-to-door sales. Leveraging the Zuora for Comms solution, Open Range was able to get to market in 100 days, and also was able connect to multiple integration points in their IT infrastructure, including:

• ERP and general ledger from SAP
• Salesforce.com customer and partner portal
• Vertex tax solution
• Paymentech credit card processing
• Allianza Telecom digital voice solution
• Open Range customer portal
• Reporting system from Qlickview and Scorecard
• GIS system from Korem
• National device fulfillment system from CTDI
• ISP and customer email solution

Summary: Why the Cloud Matters?

It’s clear that the future of the communications is in the cloud. The cloud is how carriers and service providers will source new revenue opportunities. The cloud enables the fastest path to revenue to launch new products and services. The cloud drives innovation to change pricing and launch new packages instantly and not have to wait on back-office systems. The cloud makes it easy to sign up new customers and give customers the self-service experience they want. The cloud ensures that a company never has to go through a $100 million billing project.

We look forward to seeing you in the cloud …

To learn more, visit us at www.zuora.com/comms

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April 4, 2011

Telco 2.0 in San Francisco This Week

We’re in Palo Alto preparing for tomorrow’s New Digital Economics 2.0 Brainstorm, so this week’s news review is somewhat abridged and themed on some of the major issues we’re covering. There’s also a seasonal round-up of some the better ‘April Fools’ spoofs we picked up on last week.

As the brouhaha about the AT&T-T-Mobile merger builds up, the UK’s open-access infrastructure provider crashes and takes out half-a-dozen smaller ISPs, Skype’s central infrastructure goes down, Vodafone appeases the shareholders by selling its SFR stake, we’ll be analysing key opportunities for industry growth at the 12th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm on the first day of our New Digital Economics event.

In our new Mobile Apps 2.0 session, we’ll be covering issues like the fight for control of Android’s future development, whether Windows Phone 7 really can take over Symbian’s market share, or whether that says more about analysts’ methodology or lack of it than it does about the market for mobile phones. We’ll wonder why the Symbian source repository just re-appeared and how anyone can expect to get away with suing all the app stores at once and what Google is up to joining the NFC Forum. And are they really making money from Android, or is it more of an anti-Apple virus?

As one of the US’s biggest online marketing companies leaks millions of records, we’ll be exploring the emerging ecosystem of Personal Data 2.0 with experts from the OpenID Foundation and the World Economic Forum.

In the Digital Entertainment 2.0 track, we’ll be covering the digital locker in detail as Amazon blows the issue wide open with its Cloud Drive product. We’ll discuss how Google and Facebook are competing and the lessons of MySpace’s decline

As Amazon Web Services creates more independent availability zones and blurs the definition of cloud computing by offering dedicated EC2 machines, we’ll also be covering the strategy implications of the cloud in depth.

And we might even have a laugh - here’s some fare from the April 1 news feeds: GMail Paper, the anticipatory web, Amazon $NAME, the Smurfs’ intellectual property lawsuit against Skype, hackers changing all the passwords that weren’t already “password” to “password”, and the definitive guide to London’s tech start-ups.

And finally, we’re glad to report that the stray sheep has been safely removed from the Telco 2.0 office.

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April 1, 2011

Appstore 2.0: Amazon Vs Apple & Google

Amazon is probably the Internet’s best retailer. As it launches its own AppStore, we provide a detailed analysis of its digital media business and pick out the key opportunities it offers to content owners, network service providers and manufacturers - click here to see the analysis on our research site.

Figure 3: Amazon’s media sales are still growing at over 10% per annum

Source: Amazon, STL Partners

‘Growing the Mobile Internet’ and ‘Fostering Vibrant Ecosystems: Lessons from Apple’ are also key session themes at our upcoming ‘New Digital Economics’ Brainstorms (next week in Palo Alto, 5-7 April, and London, 11-13 May). Please use the links or email contact@telco2.net or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003 to find out more.

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Telco 2.0 Strategy Report Out Now: Telco Strategy in the Cloud

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