Ρενέ Όμπερμαν: Το μέλλον των τηλεπικοινωνιών

66

Ο διευθύνων σύμβουλος της Deutsche Telekom Ρενέ Όμπερμαν κατά την ομιλία του στο συνέδριο MWC 2012 μίλησε για τις εξελίξεις που λαμβάνουν χώρα στον τομέα των τηλεπικοινωνιών, αλλά και το πώς μπορούν οι πάροχοι να εκμεταλλευτούν τις νέες τεχνολογίες για περαιτέρω επενδύσεις.

Το κύριο μέρος της ομιλίας του επικεντρώθηκε στην εξέλιξη του cloud computing, το οποίο, σύμφωνα με τον επικεφαλής του γερμανικού κολοσσού, αποτελεί την επόμενη ημέρα στα δίκτυα και τη συνδεσιμότητα.

«Αφού όλα έγιναν φορητά (mobile), τώρα όλα θα γίνουν cloud», είπε ο κ. Όμπερμαν και συνέχισε επισημαίνοντας ότι «οι πάροχοι με το cloud έχουν μια ευκαιρία για καινούργιες επενδύσεις και για περαιτέρω εξέλιξη – εάν φυσικά οι ρυθμιστικές αρχές δεν εμφανίσουν νέα εμπόδια».

Σε άλλο σημείο της ομιλίας του ανέφερε ότι «όπως ο ηλεκτρισμός επέφερε μια νέα επανάσταση και σηματοδότησε μια νέα εποχή, τη βιομηχανική εποχή, έτσι και το cloud σηματοδοτεί την έναρξη μιας νέας περιόδου όχι μόνο για τον τομέα της πληροφορικής και των τηλεπικοινωνιών (IT) αλλά και για όλη την αγορά. Η συνδεσιμότητα θα αποτελέσει ένα έξυπνο προϊόν».

Ολόκληρη η ομιλία του κ. Ρενέ Όμπερμαν στη Mobile World Congress 2012:

 

 Welcome and good morning,

It is an honor for me to be here today, speaking to this exclusive audience.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I will talk about three things today:

First: I will take a short look at our market. And at the network operators in today’s value chain.

Second: I will talk about the big chance for our entire industry that comes with the (mobile) Cloud.

Third: I will talk about the innovative power that telcos can contribute to our industry and guarantee a new “Quality of Experience”.

Let me start with a question: What has happened to this industry?

Network operators are facing rough times today. (Believe me. I know what I’m talking about):

Price decline in our core business in Europe was about 90 percent since the late 90s – driven by regulatory enforced competition.

In addition, the regulatory regime took a fantastic amount of money out of this industry. Operators paid billions for licenses. And they lost billions of revenue on lower termination rates and roaming charges – driven by regulation. So the first fact is: Prices and revenues from the traditional business came down.

 

At the same time traffic in the mobile networks went through the roof. We surpassed the number of 6 billion mobile connections at the end of 2011, and it took only 16 months to add the last billion.

In 2011, mobile traffic was eight times the size of the entire internet in 2000 (Cisco). And the trend “everything goes mobile” even continues. The second fact is: Traffic goes up like hell and networks have to be built out.

Let’s ask a simple question. Who benefits from this? Today, it is mostly the OTT-players that build their services on these cheap and fast lines. Until now, they almost don’t contribute the further development of the infrastructure – but occupy a big part of the value chain. This is one of the reasons for their success and high margin business. This mismatch cannot last forever.

In fact, it does not amaze me that some people expect telcos to become dumb pipes. Ending up as provider of connectivity and infrastructure as commodity. For me this thesis will prove wrong and even the question about dumb pipe or not is a question of the past. I will tell you why in the next minutes.

I believe in the next big trend in our industry: After everything went mobile now everything goes to the Cloud. The (mobile) Cloud is a new opportunity for operators to make the most out of their assets. And revenues can grow in the future – if regulation does not prevent the framework that is needed, for example the implementation of quality of service and traffic management. I will come back on this later.

The Cloud can change the telcos’ position in this ecosystem fundamentally, because in the Cloud industry connectivity matters in a new way. Connectivity will become a smart product. Let me explain:

Do you remember “The Big Switch”? Nicholas Carr wrote that book in 2008. He says: Cloud computing brings the same economic efficiencies to the IT industry as the collective generation of electricity and its distribution brought during the industrial revolution. The Cloud brings a similar paradigm shift for our industry.

The business rationale behind the idea is very easy – and quite similar to the electricity example: Cloud computing is more efficient and cheaper. Processing power and storage become commodities – delivered via networks.

But what does that mean for telcos? Operators will play an important role in this ecosystem because they guarantee the “Quality of Experience”. Only a superior Cloud experience can develop this business to its best.

And we can grow this market together with the OTT companies. We have to combine our assets like content, services and connectivity to deliver this experience. Yes: we will continue to compete, but we will cooperate at the same time. We have to get used to this “coopetition”.

But what does the customer expect from Cloud services? First consumers: Successful services show: convenience matters. Simple sign-in and easy-to-use services are success factors. Data synchronized across all devices and a file backup in the Cloud are welcome. To be honest: this is not “rocket science.

But when it comes to Cloud gaming or streaming video-on-demand it becomes more ambitious. Think about multiple full HD-Streams – requiring superior bandwidth. Or think about low latency when it comes to gaming. Consumers always will demand the full Cloud experience.

Second, business: Costs, security, performance and service are on the minds of the CIO’s. The economics behind are like “Riding the Cab” versus “owning the Mercedes”. This is why CIO’s globally ranked Cloud No.1 when it came to the “Top Ten of Technology Priorities” in 2011(according to Gartner). Using the Cloud means a radical shift from capex to opex. “Software as a Service” or “Infrastructure as a Service” are leading to structurally lower costs of ownership.

IT systems until now are built for peak demand (the Mercedes). That automatically leads to idle capacity and

inefficient use of capital. In the Cloud, capacity follows the demand and customers mostly pay for actual usage (the cab).

Third, machine2machine: I believe that this will become a big Cloud business in the future. According to industry estimates, up to 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020 (Ericsson). The “Internet of things” becomes reality. We will be surrounded by a plethora of connected things. All of them having special requirements to connectivity. Medical sensors monitoring the heart rate of patients with high risks demand almost 100% reliable connections to the hospitals Cloud. Systems that connect cars to give them real time warning about accidents or slippery roads need low latency.

This complex demand will lead to a new way of looking at and valuating connectivity. There will be many parameters that define the demand of special connections. And our networks will be able to address this demand. To be more technical: Real-time applications, for example, go hand in hand with jitter and packet loss. Interactive application like gaming need low latency. Sometimes bandwidth matters, sometimes not.

But Connectivity matters always. It is THE critical factor to enable the Cloud. To lose connectivity in the Cloud age means to be cut off from your digital life and work.

For that reason we cannot continue to handle connectivity on a best effort basis. We need a new steering logic for the traffic in the networks.

One could argue: “Build bigger pipes and it will work.” But building the biggest pipe of all (as the IT did with their peak oriented systems before the Cloud came in) is neither efficient in terms of allocating capital nor does it solve the problem. In mobile, for example, we have physical limitations concerning spectrum. We have limited resources to meet the demand.

That means: Intelligent (and not discriminatory) traffic management is essential to deliver the real “Quality of Experience” and that is what the customer is willing to pay for in the future. This is what regulators should have in mind thinking about new rules for our industry. They should think about that this is one way to revitalize the industry that will provide the infrastructure for the next industrial revolution. You cannot do that with a pipe regulated down to be dumb.

And for that reason the question smart versus dumb pipe to me absolutely belongs to the past.

In addition: The smart pipe will be one of the areas where telcos will show their innovation potential.

Let’s now concentrate on my third and last point: The innovative power of telcos.

Let’s talk about: Connectivity innovation, enabling innovation and product innovation.

The first area is about connectivity and network innovation. Providing smart connectivity for example means to build hybrid networks that integrate all technologies. I am talking about 3G, 4G and WIFI as well as femtocells and fiber. And this is in the DNA of network operators. We can do this integration. Customers will not care about technology. They only care about seamless services and expect the network to provide the respective bandwidth – on demand. Network operators will also establish innovative tariff schemes that fit to the special customer needs.

 

The second area can be called enabling innovation. We don’t believe in walled garden strategies. Telcos have to open up for two-sided markets and work with developers, partners and other industries. We will open up our network capabilities via standardized APIs. There are great network assets that can be utilized by third parties to build their services – and share revenues with us. On the other hand we are working with the energy and the health sector to provide intelligent infrastructure to help them going digital.

In that respect, we need to cooperate closely as the European industry. We need to set the standards right and build APIs developers and partners can connect to.

My third point is about product innovation. We will also develop our own innovative products and bing together our own Cloud solutions as we already do today. And we will work together as an industry providing solutions – like RCSe released at this fair.

But this is not enough. We have to bring much more innovation from outside in. We will intensify our cooperation with the big players, bringing their innovative power to our customers. As important will be the cooperation with innovative but smaller companies.

Our marketing power can help these entrepreneurs to bring their products to the mass market. (E.g. some spend only a few million dollars on product development and then some hundreds of million on sales and distribution.)

Many of these innovations will need a new set of quality features to guarantee the “Quality of Experience”.

To sum up: This “Quality of Experience” will consist of two aspects. First: superior and smart connectivity that fulfils the needs of the customer.

Second: security. The Cloud must be recognized as a secure place where customers leave their digital assets and personal data. This is great opportunity for the network operators. They control the Cloud value chain end-to-end for their own customers – guaranteeing the highest level of security possible. And they will offer this end-to-end security as product for partners that pay for safeguarding their own services.

Taking this together, it becomes clear that the prerequisite for providing smart connectivity and guaranteeing the “Quality of Experience” to the customer is traffic management and the introduction of different levels of service quality in the networks. Only that way we will succeed making the Cloud the paradigm shift that will grow the pie for all parts of the value chain.

Let me conclude and being together what belongs to this “Telco of the future” from my point of view.

Telcos will provide superior own products

Telcos will provide smart connectivity for the digital value chain

and thus enable innovation

Telcos will guarantee the “Quality of Experience” in the Cloud economy

Telcos will open up and cooperate with small and big innovative partners

Thank you very much.