AMSTERDAMNED -- Broadband World Forum 2013 -- "You know what we're going to hear about all of today, don't you? Software-defined f#$*#*g networking -- SDFN!" It is the phrase that greeted me here on the first morning of this year's BBWF, an event that, in years gone by used to be about fixed broadband.
Now, after just four hours of meetings, walking the show floor and attending some conference sessions, the show seems to be about pretty much anything and everything. "It has lost its focus," says one attendee from a systems integrator, who requested anonymity.
That's reflected in the keynote speeches. The Group CTO from KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), Erik Hoving, spoke for about 25 minutes Tuesday morning to an auditorium of hundreds. The only noteworthy things he said were that "innovation will take place on the network, not in the network" (a nice enough soundbite) and that "the iPhone is less expensive than toilet paper."
That comment got the response it asked for: "I wouldn't want to use the toilet in his house then," said one European vendor executive.
So what is being discussed? Well, as my friend noted this morning, SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) are on the agenda, as you would expect of any industry event these days, no matter what it's called. But so is CEM (customer experience management), M2M (machine to machine), SaaS (software as a service), Internet of Things (IoT), LTE (Long-Term Evolution), MBT (mobile backhaul transport), and PDC (pretty decent coffee).
OK, so that last acronym is mine, but…
That's not to say that DSL and PON and FTTH aren't on the agenda and aren't being discussed. But it's all very diluted. And where is the buzz in fixed broadband these days? Probably vectoring and G.fast but they aren't exactly dominant topics at this show. (See BT Trials Huawei's G.fast for FTTx.)
And there are interesting people to meet here. But… what's it really all about? I'll ask myself again tomorrow. And Thursday. Maybe it'll all be clearer then.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading