Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Art of War - Telecom10.0(Google) vs. Telecom1.0(ATT)

What happens when a disruptive Telecom10.0 player like Google(Voice) starts looking and feeling like a burr under the saddle of an old Telecom1.0 Cowboy like AT&T?

Alec Saunders of has an excellent and detailed blog summary of Google and AT&T's recent spat over “Net Neutrality”. Alec explains "Google Voice doesn’t pass calls to certain rural carriers because of the high cost of termination in these jurisdictions.  That includes, I’ve been told, our Calliflower conference service which is hosted at a rural carrier as well.  AT&T is trying to convince the FCC that Google Voice is, in fact, a common carrier, and should have to abide by the same rules as they do.  They’ve labeled this a fight over Net Neutrality, which is a mis-characterization."

Alec goes on to explain in detail the Telecom1.0 concept of telephone carrier arbitrage. Basically it's how phone companies pay each other when telephone calls cross invisible gates at carrier network borders (tariffs). Bottom line is AT&T wants to have the FCC start treating Google like a common telephony carrier. But AT&T isn't doing this because they really care whether Google gets affected by this trivial rural termination charges issue. Instead what AT&T wants is to position Google(Voice) into it's "home stadium" of Telecom1.0 competition. If ATT can get the FCC to stamp Google with Telecom1.0 label it will force Google to compete with ATT on it's Telecom1.0 "home field".

Some forget that the original idea of "home field advantage" was a concept related to war and fighting battles. 2300 years ago Sun Tzu said in his book "The Art of War", "The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him. By holding out advantages to him, the clever combatant can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord." AT&T is using precisely this strategy because there is actual advantage to be had by Google in siding with AT&T on this rural termination issue. Alec says "..Google may be an (unwilling) ally, as they are facing the same issue – how to avoid paying higher than average termination fees in a business model that gives the customer unlimited long distance for no additional charge."

Sun Tzu would be impressed by this battle ploy being attempted by AT&T. The question though is whether Google will allow themselves to be maneuvered in this manner. Who do you think wins in this fight? Does Google back away and remain in their Telecom10.0 "Blue Ocean" or dive into AT&T's Telecom1.0 "Red Ocean"? There's blood in AT&T's "red ocean" waters and AT&T is circling like a shark waiting to hear a splash.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

21st Century Telecom - Disruptions in RealTime

Hello! I'm Christian. Welcome to my blog "21st Century Telecom - Disruptions in Realtime".

The conversation I'm looking to start, and have you join in, is all about the exciting transition that is happening right now from a 20th century model of telecommunication to a 21st century model. In reality the 20th century model is really a 19th century model. I call that old model "Telecom 1.0".  (Sorry for using the overused "SW versioning metaphor" for the old/new polarity but, it actually does work well.)

"Telecom 1.0" began March 10, 1876 when the first successful two-way telephone call was made by Alexander Grahmam Bell. Bell spoke into his newly constructed device, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." and Watson answered back.

From that day until now we have been living in a 134 year long "Age of Telecom 1.0". Virtually all the telephone calls made since that day, and still virtually all phone calls made today worldwide, operate on the same basic model. A telephone caller initiates a call trying to reach a destination "phone number" hoping the person or persons they are trying to reach answers the call so a realtime voice conversation can happen. Just like 'Al Bell' and 'Tom Watson' did that day in March of 1876.

But we are now seeing the beginning of a series of fundamental and disruptive changes in how people communicate. The availability and affordability of high bandwidth access to the internet is resulting in new and richer communication models that are changing the way people think about communication. Those changes are focused around what is now being called "Social Media" or "Social Networks".

Instead of people thinking about making a series of individual, person to person conversations with people, or even having group conversations on telephone conference calls, people are now focusing on communication modes where they are trying to engage in broadcasts of information to dozens, hundreds or thousands of people all at once. The two fastest growing examples of that today are Facebook and Twitter, but there are dozens of popular online communities that focus on enhanced communications. @BrianSolis put together a great summary diagram of what Social Media on the internet looks like today. He calls his multicolored, flower-like diagram "The Conversation Prism: The Art of Listening, Learning and Sharing".
You may need a magnifying glass to see all the richness in this diagram but that illustrates just how different Telecom1.0 is from Telecom2.0. Actually calling it Telecom2.0 doesn't do it justice. It's more like "Telecom 10.0" because there is an order of magnitude more complexity in how people now interact in this new context of the Social Media "Conversation Prism".

People are no longer content to have a network of some dozen or so close friends they interact with regularly and perhaps 100 people they call colleagues or acquaintances. That is the "Telecom1.0" past. Today people count their "close" Facebook friends in the 100s or even thousands and Twitter "followers" in the thousands, 10s/100s of thousands" or in some cases, even millions. As a result, "Telecom 10.0", is a completely different animal.

Many, many people have embraced it; some are wary of it and are keeping it at arms lengths while they try and figure it out; and some are downright terrified of what this change means and how it will impact their lives. One thing is absolutely certain, it will in fact make a huge impact on how almost all of us live our lives. If you don't believe me you need to watch this short video on Social Media "Is Social Media a Passing Fad?" and I think you will be stunned by how fast social Media is catching on globally.

With something that is growing this fast it's critical we figure out how to make sure this exciting, invigorating, stimulating and terrifying change is something that makes life better for the human race and not worse. I think this change, while painful and scary, is ultimately going to make the world a better place.

What about you? Are you embracing this change; holding it at arms length; terrified of it; or all of the above?

Listen, Learn and above all...please do Share. I want to know what you think.