19 June 2008

Telecomms industry goes down to the crossroad

Las Vegas is not, I venture to suggest, a place where many sane individuals want to spend too much time -- especially in June when temperatures run into the hundreds (if you think in Fahrenheit), and probably for other, more obvious reasons too.

Yet that's where I find myself today, along with what seems to be half the western world's telecommunications industry.

We're here for NXTcomm08, the telecoms industry show, which finds the sector at a crossroads, as we unveil in our show highlights feature, new on the NetEvents TV website today.

The news feature includes an interview with the show's director about the show, and about the state of the industry and its big issues. Green issues are to the forefront, as of course is the thrust towards all-IP networks.

And it's the drive to IP that forms the backbone of our feature's interviews with the technology vendors. From show award-winner Hatteras Networks with its backhaul-boosting, copper aggregation technology to high-performance routers from Redback, from Aculabs' call routing systems to Sonus Networks' WiMax voice solutions, the emphasis from NXTcomm08 is on IP data. And that's just a handful of the many vendors we sampled.

While it's perhaps a slightly more subdued show compared to last year, according to some vendors, NXTcomm08 suggests that the telecoms operators' drive towards Ethernet continues to intensify. While many vendors and analysts believe that the old technologies will be around for at least a decade, maybe two, it's clear that some of the more nimble carriers -- largely those without a large legacy network and its accompanying customer base to maintain -- will be making that transition much quicker.

As an aside, you might wonder what's meant by 'a legacy network' -- 'legacy' of course being the industry-standard sneer at technology that's more than a handful of months old. In the telecoms business, the rhythm of technology upgrades necessarily moves at a slower pace. But even so, it was slightly shocking here at the show to hear ATM referred to as a legacy technology. It was not very long ago at all in telecoms industry years that ATM with its 53-byte cells was the latest, the greatest, and you'd be seeing it on your LAN before too long. O tempora, O mores!

But I digress. The crossroads for the telecoms industry is the one I mentioned in the last blog -- namely how a service provider can upgrade its network, add services people want to buy, and maintain a viable business model in a climate of falling prices. I'll leave it for you to wonder who the devil is in this scenario (think Robert Johnson).

So if you're interested in what the telecoms industry is about to dish up, NXTcomm08 is a pretty good place to start looking -- and, I self-interestedly submit, you might want to take a look at the NetEvents TV highlights features too.

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