Top 10 moments from ITW 2014 – part 1

Top 10 moments from ITW 2014 – part 1

The most important event of the year for wholesale telecoms was held in May. Capacity looks back at the defining moments from ITW 2014.

1. A message from the founder of the World Wide Web

With the future of the internet never looking more uncertain, it was fitting that ITW 2014 was opened by a keynote address from the founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

In 1990, Berners-Lee identified the three technologies (HTML, URI and HTTP) that laid the foundations for the modern internet. Since then, the web has continued to become faster, more accessible and incredibly powerful, none of which could have been possible if it was not maintained as an open platform.

“Most of the web, to this day, has been kept open for people to contribute to its growth,” he told Capacity. “There is a good foundation to stimulate economic growth, to encourage startups, and most crucially, it has been important to maintain democracy.”

During his speech, delivered to a packed Crystal Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency, Berners-Lee paid tribute to the wholesale community for playing a pivotal role in the development of the web. With the web now in its 25th year, he also warned that its open platform principle is coming increasingly under threat. A “battleground” is emerging to control the internet, he said, with governments taking a larger role in how people access the service.

2. The Chicago agreement

The first day of ITW 2014 saw Orange, Ooredoo and Bharti Airtel sign the landmark Chicago agreement.

The pioneering agreement will see the three founding carriers work together to address areas of interoperability in roaming, signalling, transport, SMS and IPX. The news was exclusively broken by ITW Daily, which is produced by Capacity.

The move will also see the companies partner for international voice services and develop solutions for voice minutes to be routed on the shortest possible path with the highest level of quality.

“This initiative is an answer for our industry to an increasingly complex ecosystem; driven by the IP convergence, which sees international and nomadic communication usages growing more than ever,” said Alexandre Pébereau, EVP international carriers at Orange.

Orange, Ooredoo and Airtel were all keen to stress the importance of developing robust global networks, with a specific focus on quality voice and data services for retail and mobile operations.

As part of the agreement, the operators will also strategise to tailor the collaboration towards combating fraud, by sharing best practices and available tools between them.

3. Confidence, Innovation and Leadership take centre stage

On day one, Capacity also revealed the results of its seminal Confidence, Innovation and Leadership survey during a summit. The annual global research study monitors the most important issues affecting senior executives within the international wholesale telecoms market.

The report found 77% of wholesale chiefs to be bullish on the prospects for the market, and a statistically relevant proportion of senior executives have moved from being “confident” to “very confident” in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile 82% of all wholesale chiefs view the over-the-top segment as an opportunity rather than a threat, but 69% would still like to formalise a relationship through some sort of revenue-sharing model. This set the tone for the confidence, innovation and leadership summit, which was presented by the acclaimed documentary host, producer and broadcaster Bill Kurtis. The panel also included high-profile representatives from the carrier, vendor and OTT communities.

The panel agreed that OTTs are driving new consumer behaviours, which are expected to generate more messaging and voice trends. Fraud and security concerns were also key areas of discussions. Ex-FBI agent and current president of Crowdstrike Shawn Henry claimed there was a growing disconnect between the two in the industry, and said that security is an issue which needs to be addressed at board level by carriers.

4. A seminal year for IPX

If any further evidence was required to show that IPX has gained serious momentum in 2014, it was provided at ITW, where a number of Tier-1 carriers made high-profile announcements.

Telefónica Global Solutions began proceedings by launching its IPX suite on day one. The IPX Suite is designed to allow customers to share interconnections between multiple services, and will also deliver extensive quality and security features. Customers are expected to benefit from reduced costs as the amount of interconnections needed to acquire different services is minimised, as is the time-to-market for the implementation of new services. Services in the IPX portfolio include VoIPX, SIGTRAN signalling and GPRS/GRX, with next-generation IP services such as LTE Diameter and LTE data roaming. Other services include data roaming management and optimisation, as well as enterprise services such as A2P SMS.

The following day, Middle Eastern operator Etisalat signed an agreement with TI Sparkle to interconnect their global multi-service IPX platforms. Subscribers from both companies are now said to have the capability to seamlessly roam between international operator networks.

Also on day two, Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) announced IPX agreements with both Taiwanese operator Chunghwa Telecom and Japanese carrier NTT Communications. The partnerships are designed to establish multi-service IPX peering interconnections. All three carriers will now have the ability to deliver greater reach to more mobile network operators and the agreement is designed to ensure that end customers can roam seamlessly across IPX platforms. IDT also announced that it was integrating IPX into its global network. Its offering includes a packet voice internetworking exchange that has been designed to meet i3 Forum and GSM specifications.

The moves highlight how LTE roll-outs globally are driving demand for IPX, particularly in service areas such as LTE roaming. A battle is underway between carriers for space in this market.

5. Redefining content and carrier relations
Net neutrality again came to the forefront on day two, during a lively conference session focussed on “Redefining content and carrier relations for mutual benefit”.

Panellists including senior representatives from Facebook, datamena, HGC and NTT Communications agreed that over-regulation on the net neutrality issue could hinder OTT and carrier relationships. Panellists said both OTTs and carriers need to start working together on a solution for coping with increasing traffic and improving the end-user experience.

Andrew Kwok, president of international and carrier business at Hutchison Global Communications (HGC), said the company is now past blaming revenue losses on OTTs. “We need to move on and instead start focussing on how can we work with OTTs and how they can help us get more business,” he said.

Najam Ahmad, director of networking at Facebook, argued that net neutrality regulations can prevent innovation, as companies are wary of inadvertently falling foul of legislation.

“Both sides – OTTs and carriers – are investing in network infrastructure separately. Instead, we need to partner to come up with a solution to cope with increasing traffic volume together,” Ahmad said.

Kwok said HGC is looking to co-operate with OTTs to generate revenue together, by creating a revenue sharing model. However the company acts cautiously and even hesitantly when setting up partnerships with OTTs for fear of breaking net neutrality rules.

NTT Communications’ EVP of global IP networks, Michael Wheeler, reiterated Kwok’s message, adding that “too much regulatory involvement can create a cumbersome environment”.

Follow the link to read part 2.

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