Reflections From PTC’14

by Ari Rabban

ptc_reflectionsI recently had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Pacific Telecommunications Council 2014 (PTC’14) in Honolulu, Hawaii.  I know– it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.  While I can’t begin to summarize everything that was said by some true visionaries and renowned experts, I want to share some of the highlights that really stood out to me.

First of all, with net neutrality recently coming back into the limelight, there was much discussion about companies like Netflix who are challenging service providers to not discriminate against their traffic.  Dr. Hussein Eslambolchi, former President and CEO of AT&T Labs and Network Services, wonders “if incumbents can ever really reinvent themselves and get rid of that ‘not invented here’ mentality, and whether they can truly add value-added services.  Or will they just continue to focus on ‘dumb pipes’ and trying to prevent others from competing with them rather than helping to push the industry forward?”  This certainly poses a risk and challenge to 3rd parties across a number of industries—not just telecommunications.

A second insight I gained was that there is a significant amount of bandwidth, equipment, and cost that is wasted by inefficient routing methodologies. Although a large amount of voice traffic is transmitted over IP, calls that are transmitted from one VoIP provider to another still need to make their way to the public network (PSTN) first. As VoIP becomes more and more prevalent, both with end-users and as a core telephony technology, the industry will need to “learn” how to keep voice traffic in the IP domain, and bypass the public network when possible.

On an interesting note, we discussed the fact that laser technology is currently being overlooked.  When we consider the need for faster broadband, laser and photonics are still realistically a decade away, but could ultimately replace the means by which many applications are delivered.  This article discusses the possibility of using laser beam projectors to serve video to multiple rooms in a house.

Finally, I gained a couple new insights that apply to both business and networking practice.  First, much discussion circled around the importance in the “make vs. buy” to shift our mindset to buy first.  We should focus on what we do best and acquire supporting solutions available in the marketplace and optimize or replace down the road as needed.  Second, companies need to design their networks with failure in mind from the very beginning.  Assume failure will happen and have a plan to address it.

Truly some sage advice from this group of experts, making my attendance at PTC’14 well worth the trip!

Leave a Reply