ORLANDO, Fla. -- Perspectives 13 -- Genband Inc.'s first conference merging customers, partners, press and analysts drew nearly 800 attendees to rainy Orlando to discuss the evolving world of communications. (See Genband Goes Virtual at (Actual) Show.)
WebRTC, software-defined networking (SDN) and enterprise services were top of the agenda. Here are the 10 topics and quotes that sparked my interest from two days' worth of keynotes, meetings and booth visits.
New service providers will challenge the status quo.
In kicking off the conference, Genband's dapper chairman, David Walsh, warned attendees about the law of wireless gravity, that a bit will find its way on to the lowest-cost infrastructure as fast as possible. As a result, a host of new providers is popping up. For example, New York City wants to become a carrier by turning phone booths into WiFi hotspots. Walsh can also envision entire countries becoming network operators, leasing capacity to the traditional network operators.
"Anywhere where people gather, networks will be built," Walsh said. "And, the reverse is true: wherever networks are built, people will gather."
But owning the core makes the most sense.
Sure, anyone can acquire spectrum and offer services, but to run a viable business it makes sense to own the core. "Renting is the new owning," Balan Nair, CTO of Liberty Global Inc., told attendees. Why own, he asked, when you'll be the fourth or fifth operator in a market, which "just sucks." That's the position Liberty Global finds itself occupying in most of its markets, but Nair said that it only rents the radio access network (RAN) while it builds its own core. That way it can control the SIM cards and have the ability to integrate its product offerings.
"If you do a regular MVNO, you don’t control your partner," he explained, adding that churn can be more like 60 percent. "It's an arbitrage game on pricing."
Automation is SDN's low-hanging fruit.
It's not the sexiest part of software-defined networking (SDN), but Dr. Vish Nandlall, CTO of Ericsson North America, says that being able to automate a path is the low-hanging fruit. Plotting and routing traffic between two points is very difficult, but SDN promises to automate the process. This is where many operators are starting.
"The part of SDN around configuration management across the HetNet [heterogeneous network], not just in the IP plane, but in the optical plane, being able to trace a path within minutes rather than days is something SDN should aspire to achieve," Nandlall said. "The first practical apps are in that realm."
LTE signaling is a different beast.
Any operator that thinks they've licked the problem of signaling on its 3G network is in for a rude awakening on 4G. LTE signaling is not SS7 signaling, according to F5 Networks Inc. VP of Worldwide Sales Tom Carter. Signaling went from a voice-centric concern to a peer-to-peer one, and the challenge is trickier to tackle on 4G. (See Genband Taps F5 for Diamater Signaling Controller.)
The need for security cannot be overstated.
The need for security and the very real threat of cybercriminals was a theme expounded on by a number of the show's speakers. We're just starting to see the beginning of cyber warfare, Walsh said, and the all-IP nature of LTE networks makes them more vulnerable.
"DDoS attacks are real, and nefarious attacks are going to get worse," Carter added. "In a couple of years, they'll change and be something else as these guys move the needle."