Top Telco 2.0 News from last Quarter: Pre-Event Stimulation

With tomorrow/Wednesday's 11th EMEA Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm coming up, below are 21 important 'Telco 2.0' news items taken from the last three months of Telco 2.0 News Reviews, in order to help you get into the right frame of mind. See you there! If not, we'll report back here and, in real time, via twitter (hash tag for those at the event: #telco2).

We cover progressive and regressive developments, look at 'new invaders' in the telco space, customer data as a special feature, and then devices and technology:

Progressive telco developments:

  • The deal between Telstra and NBN Co.
  • This means that the creation of Australia's National Broadband Network now begins in earnest. It highlights the increased role of the public sector in the infrastructure, and specifically the central importance of ducts and civil works. The contract to allow NBN to use the ducts is said to be worth A$11bn to Telstra, while the savings to NBN Co are higher yet. Not only Telstra, but all the Australian operators, can look forward to a future as service-oriented players working over an excellent fibre infrastructure.

  • LightSquared - a live test of real wholesale. Will it work?
  • It's not often someone throws a multi-billion dollar experiment with a new business model. In fairly short order we're going to see whether there's room for a greenfield wholesale operator.

  • EverythingEverywhere, and widespread proposals for deep network sharing - Italian fibre, French rural HSPA900
  • Everyone's getting into the network sharing theme, and this makes nothing but good sense.

The above developments all fall under the general theme of 'happy pipe'/cost control/infrastructure services.

  • APIs and App Stores Everywhere - AT&T and Sprint have joined Verizon in engaging with developers.
  • It's too early to say if they'll be any good, but it's a step in the right direction. One thing this means is that "we've got an app store" or "we've got a dev website" is no longer anywhere near enough to differentiate you from the competition.

  • Payments - MPESA and rivals still deploying fast, DoCoMo ID, Digicel international remittances, AT&T now trying to get in on the game with Boku, Sprint with its PayPal partnership.
  • Historically, mobile money transfer is the industry's third hit product - voice was the first, then SMS, now MMT. (iPhone,and smartphones more broadly are entirely to the credit of the vendors.) We're seeing a sustained rush into the market. Again, it's no longer enough just to have some sort of product out there - it needs to be good, and it needs to both interwork with the traditional financial system and compete with it.

  • Getting serious about M2M - Sprint joins VZW in having an M2M developer offering, Telenor remains the one to match, KPN prepares to build a radio network for M2M devices as well as being an owner of connectivity broker Jasper Wireless.
  • There's intense activity in this field, at every level and every role. As we pointed out in a recent analyst's note, the strategic options are similar to those we identified for telcos more broadly. Connectivity-focused "happy pipes" are looking at specialised radio networks and global roaming partnerships. Developer-driven "Telco 2.0" players are trying to build rich platform APIs. And customer-intimate minibrands are clustering around specific industry verticals. Watch out for Pachube in the Augmented Reality/'Facebook of Things' session on Thursday the Brainstorm.

Regressive telco developments:

Because they're fairly common too...

  • "Carriers' OS" proposal.
  • For a start there's no need for yet another mobile operating system. And it reinforces the pathological mindset that "we own the customer", which is at odds with Vodafone's external brand promise of 'Power to you' which suggests 'enabling the customer'...

  • Google (and Apple) Bashing.
  • It's like wrestling with a pig - you get dirty (i.e. unpopular/in trouble with the regulators) and the pig likes it.

New invaders, and a special focus on Voice 2.0:

  • Skype - seems to be rejuvenated as a competitor.
  • As well as their deal with Verizon Wireless, we note Skype Connect, their play for business voice. Using Avaya and Cisco hardware as a channel to break into the market is a smart move.

  • Facebook - leaning over into voice, with its partnerships with Skype and Jajah.
  • It goes without saying that they didn't ask a telco to enable the site for voice.

  • Asterisk SCF - re-engineering Asterisk from the ground up to achieve carrier-grade performance with the same developer friendly API
  • We're not sure how well this will work, but it's a major development for the toolkit of Voice 2.0.

Online video, our first love:

  • The war for control of "Better TV"
  • Apple and Google have made their initial plays here, and Google's already managed to fall out with the TV networks. However, we think that...

  • Project Canvas/YouView (in the UK)
  • may turn out to be more significant. They've now got the go-ahead from OFCOM. Specifically, the network side has been better thought through - famously, if content is king, distribution is King Kong. We don't know how the user experience will be, though, and that's desperately critical.

  • YouTube goes into profit
  • Google's ContentID system has allowed them to both make YT a profit centre, and fix their copyright problem - when they identify a copyrighted work, they ask the owners if they want it taken down or if they'd rather have a share of revenue from ads next to it. Guess which they usually pick... So they've won with a two-sided business model.

  • Hulu, however....
  • The other video site we analysed in this post failed to monetise from adverts and is now trying to recruit subscribers - but why would you if you already have a cable subscription?

  • Qualcomm's mobile TV play MediaFLO is shutting down
  • Great though the idea of broadcast-broadband integration is, this particular implementation hasn't worked.

Customer data special focus:

  • Facebook
  • Not a week goes by without a privacy fiasco. We're not sure whether "Instant Personalisation" (the one where they disclosed all your data to third party websites whenever you were logged in) or the phone book affair (when they started trying to match phone numbers with Facebook profiles without asking) was more fun. You do wonder if they might drag Skype into trouble with them.

  • Revival of interest in alternative ID systems
  • The UK government is suddenly very keen on MyDex. Facebook is planning to make more use of its proprietary Connect protocol. Everyone else is working on improvements to OpenID and OAuth.

  • Apple iAds and Google AdMob
  • Shows it can be done, but raises the possibility of a squeeze between players integrated with fancy hardware, and Google for the rest.

Devices and technology:

  • LTE - not quite as Late, Tempting and Elusive...
  • It's looking more realistic now, even if it will require support from other technologies like femotcells, but our view that the key technologies are HSPA+ and WLAN is being borne out on T-Mobile USA's network.

  • Android Android Android.
  • Huge success in the States (although some people are more sceptical about Europe), hard to say what it means in hard cash for Google, but it has had strategically important consequences for vendors - Motorola has turned around its business as a result. Did they just do it to derail Apple?

  • Nokia in crisis.