Friday, November 06, 2015

Rather than building ‘superfast’ networks, what we are really building are ‘superidle’ ones

--- Martin Geddes, My Great Telco Debate homework, 23 Sep 2015

Quote in context
There is a ‘cycle of doom’ that telcos are stuck in, whereby they are attempting to use capacity to overcome contention effects. With each cycle, the effectiveness of the over-provisioning declines. Rather than building ‘superfast’ networks, what we are really building are ‘superidle’ ones.

Please don’t tell the investors though, as they might cut off the supply of pension funds that we are busy turning into muddy holes and underused equipment. That might be a bit too uncomfortable. The way to avoid their ire is to treat contention issues with better scheduling, not cheaper capital.
More from this piece
The issue they face is that the industry is configured to be supply-led with one-size-fits-all products. We have been a ‘built it and they will (and did) come’ business. The primary task has been to build capacity, and the primary risk has been that there won’t be enough customers to pay back the sunk investment. The roles, responsibilities and incentives inside an operator are all configured towards managing those two goals.
The power and profit going forward is in the systems that match supply to demand, and the markets that form around them. Networks are going from a ‘pipe’ metaphor to a ‘resource trading platform’ one. SDN and NFV are just a part of this puzzle. They offer the mechanisms needed to exploit some of the 'trades' at some of the timescales. Much more is possible.