Futurecom: 5 More Hot Topics

5:25 PM -- SAO PAULO -- Not content with just five top hot topics at Futurecom, my Brazilian hosts are insisting that Brazil is so important, it needs a top 10 list just like Broadband World Forum, SCTE, and other shows. So, here goes:

Value-added services: Like everywhere else, driving new applications will be crucial for carriers to monetize billion-dollar infrastructure investments. "The key issue is how will the huge, newly consolidated carriers (i.e., Oi buying Brazil Telecom to become largest operator) in Brazil be able to be entrepreneurial and create these new applications," says Laudalio Veiga Filho, veteran Brazilian telco industry insider, and founder of Provisuale, the organizer of Futurecom.

Looking for LTE: Brazilian carriers only just rolled out their 3G services two years ago and need to realize their investments, notes Ricardo Gonzalez, who is mobile IP control plane vendor Bridgewater's CALA director of sales. Gonzalez expects to see LTE trials second half of next year and real deployments in early 2012.

Monetizing OTT: Net neutrality discussions were hot at the show as Brazilian telecom operators pondered how to segment and monetize video and data streams for maximum revenue, especially over mobile networks, as there are three times more phones than computers in Brazil. Add the fact that carriers are required to follow a policy of "inclusion," meaning mobile services must be available to rich and poor alike, operators are even more obligated to optimize and prioritize their mobile internet infrastructure, says Merav Bahak, VP of Marketing for Flash Networks.

The Broadband Plan: The Plano Nacional de Banda Larga, known as the PNBL National Broadband Plan, calls for an investment of $7.3 billion and is intended to increase the number of broadband households to 40 million in 2014 (about 72 percent of total dwellings in the country), from 11 million in 2010. While Pyramid Research is projecting this will probably fall short (27 million is realizable), the PNBL is spurring a boomtown mentality at the show as vendors position themselves to arm the revived government-backed operator Telebras, as well as other carriers who will latch on to this massive effort. According to Rodrigo Abreu, president of Cisco Brazil, one way to win in Brazil is to go local, as Cisco will be manufacturing set-top boxes in Brazil in partnership with NET Servicios, the largest cable provider in Latin America.

Ending with a song: Here's a unique thing about Futurecom. Nobody shows up on the show floor until about 4 p.m., and then it's jammed, even on this, the third and last day. Maybe it's another "polar" opposite of being in the southern hemisphere (i.e., water drains counterclockwise here). Or perhaps it's the fact that while most telco tradeshows close with a tired tray of stale snacks, warm beer, and wine, Futurecom is closing with a performance by Maria Rita, a popular Brazilian samba singer compared in English-language reviews (sorry, I can't read the authoritative analyses in Portuguese) to Nora Jones. Just another reason why the final score in this week's telco tradeshow showdown is Brazil (Futurecom) 1 and France (Broadband World Forum) 0.

— Joe Braue, Group Publisher and SVP, Light Reading

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