PTC’s "New Realities" panel turns political

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The PTC 2021 conference keynote talks OTTs, Trump and politics.

Kicking off the conference, this session was hosted by Asian Century Equity’s Bill Barney and featured some of the biggest CEOs in the space, namely Keri Gilder from Colt Technology Services, Bevan Slattery founder of SUB.CO/Cloudscene/Superloop/Megaport/NEXTDC, and Bill Stein of Digital Realty.

The session started with a slightly more political undertone, discussing the US elections and the role OTTs have played in that with larger questions about further legislation and the potential breaking up of these hyperscalers.

Commenting on whether the newly appointed administration would push this to the top of its agenda Stein said: “When you when you think about what the incoming administration's priorities are, its most likely going to be around COVID-19 and getting the economy going,  at least initially.

“I would think that other topics or issues like the right regulating or forcing divestitures in the technology industry, are certainly unlikely in the short term.”

But he says that given the climate we’re currently in, all bets are off and we'll “have to see how it all plays out”.

Zayo’s Caruso added taking into account the decisions from the likes of Twitter to remove president Trump from its platform, whether justified or not, will have some consequences for the OTTs in the long-term and although not immediately, perhaps within the next “two to 10 years”.

“Taking individuals down, not just President Trump but others as well, and for the billions of tech companies to all at once decide what they think is appropriate, not appropriate, I've got to believe there's going to be an aftershock of that.”

Based in Europe, with a very outsider looking in perspective, Colt’s Gilder chimed in with her thoughts on the subject that the EU as it has with GDPR will lead the charge on this.

“Will they [the EU] be able to break up American icons while standing on European ground? Absolutely not. But I do see that the rules and regulatory environment will grow on grander scale and maybe even faster.

“With the new administration coming in, Europe can focus more on the rules and regulations and do it faster because they don't have the distraction of a new administration coming into play.”

Bevan Slattery ended that part of the discussion, striking a tone of neutrality by saying: “I think cancelling a president’s, or cancelling the leader of the country's access to a platform, is a big thing. I'm not saying it's the wrong decision, I'm just saying there are consequences to that decision.”

But ultimately he says he is more concerned with the underlying technology and the principles that makes up the internet: “I've got greater fundamental concerns about the actual fabric the internet,” taking Uganda and its recently ban of social media networks in the run up to its elections that has been met with a lot of controversy, Slattery says that opposite is also true.

“When you want to sit down and have an argument against them you sit there and say well you know we're all for an open Internet. Well, the opposite is just applied, there isn't really quite an open Internet happening right now.”

As for the physical infrastructure he says that he more worried about “anarchists” and those who at  “some point are going to take things into their own hands” adding “I'm more concerned about the production of the internet than I am about people's political persuasion”.

In related news, SubOptic, the global subsea association, unveiled during PTC 21 the launch of the SubOptic Foundation.

This charitable organisation is focused on supporting education and research initiatives for the advancement of the global communications, specifically the subsea cable industry.

The main objective of the Foundation will be to support SubOptic in its work developing programs, with the end goal of increasing awareness, inclusivity and diversity across the industry. It will also take an active role in promoting the industry as an attractive employer and the professional development of those entering the industry.

In addition, the Foundation will lead initiatives that contribute to the long-term health and sustainability of the wider submarine cable industry.

“I’m very excited to be part of this great initiative that we hope to develop into a new keystone supporting our industry’s future. We’re also committed to finding new ways to attract and develop diverse talent through the Foundation’s education initiatives,” said Erick Contag, executive chairman of GlobeNet and executive committee president of SubOptic.