Communications industry insight, intelligence and ideas

Future of Comms: Best of 2012

The size of this mailing list has tripled in 2012, and many of you will have missed early articles and essays. I have looked back at the archive, and strung together all the pieces into a single narrative for you to explore and digest during the remaining holiday period.

The telecoms industry is in transition. The GSM ecosystem is passing its zenith, and the industry as a whole is maturing. We are at ‘peak telecoms’, at least in the current paradigm of understanding.

Voice and messaging

It is time to hang up on the phone system, not least because telephony is past its use-by date. Indeed, it is time to kill the idea of the phone ‘call’ entirely. No doubt new technologies like WebRTC will trigger new usage modes. As voice becomes a full-blown part of the Web it will just become another hypermedium, namely hypervoice.

Philosophy of networks

Networking is not yet a science because we can’t model basic cause and effect. Indeed, we have a crisis of certainty because the epistemological foundations about what we ‘know’ are broken. Worse, we have made a basic category error about networking, by believing networks do ‘work’. The consequence is we have stuffed them full of what are called ‘work-conserving’ queues, which results in obese pipes. Indeed, the excess of work-in-progress inside networks creates a statistical instability. The Internet as a result has a ‘global warming problem’ due to ‘non-stationarity’.

However, networks don’t do ‘work’ and by recognising that there are three fundamental laws that are the foundation of networking we can instead arrive at an alternative of lean networking.

New networking paradigm

This new paradigm recognises the essential stochastic nature of packet data, and is enabled by the network of probabilities. By moving to non-conserving queues, we can also finally make an efficient leap from monoservice to polyservice networks. This transforms the economics of networks, since they are trading platforms, and allows us to time-shift peak demand.

This ‘lean’ approach is part of a bigger macroeconomic shift from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ business models. Telcos are no exception, and must shift from supply-push to demand-pull. This means they must also engage with their primary risk in order to transition from transactional e-business into flow-based f-businesses.

The need to create predictable and stable flows of value means the industry must measure and manage stationarity as well as bandwidth. Lean is all about dealing with variance in demand.

With a richer set of controls, we may even begin to solve the difficult postage and packaging problem, and allow cloud applications to replicate the simplicity and success of SMS and telephony as convenient and complete services.

Distributed computing end game

Telecoms is not about networking and cloud computing as two distinct things. They are one and the same: just distributed computing. Failure to understand the basic nature of the business is triggering a corporate form of identity disorder.

This trend towards a ‘liquid’ distributed computing fabric is the dawn of the hypercomputer. It signals the transcendence of the Internet, and opens the opportunity for new and better structures. Indeed, they can be more open and generative than the Internet, which is not (really) open.

New and different forms of software distribution will emerge to support this new world of distributed computing. This new world will also be data-centric, and potentially demands new ways of managing and accounting for the data assets and liabilities, such as double-entry data keeping.
The next Future of Broadband workshop is in London on 24th January 2013, and half the places are already gone. Details of the event and pricing are on the downloadable flyer [PDF]. Further Future of Voice and Telco-OTT Services workshops will be announced in 2013.
I am also available for speaking, advisory, consulting and writing engagements. To get in touch, just hit "reply".
Thanks for a great 2012 and best wishes for 2013,
Martin Geddes
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Copyright © 2012 Martin Geddes Consulting Ltd, All rights reserved.