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Quick comments from the Telecom Summit

The Canadian Telecom Summit brought the industry's movers and shakers together under one roof

The Canadian Telecom Summit was held this year at the Toronto Congress Centre from June 15th to 17th with the usual high level of speakers including the most Telecommunications movers and shakers ever found under one roof in Canada.

Co-Founders Mark Goldberg and Michael Sone put on an incredibly well organized show every year that never fails to inform, educate and entertain.

Even lunch time was informative with a guest speaker for the first part of each luncheon giving some insight on the Telecom industry from their perspectives.

Here are my highlights and comments.

Day one with Rogers and Nokia Siemens

Rogers Communications Inc. CEONadir Mohamed kicked the Summit off and it appears that most of the Rogers incentives are geared to first time Rogers customers. What about incenting the existing ones to stay?

Nokia Siemens Networks president of North AmericaSue Spradley said in 2008 there was a five times increase in data traffic across the Internet, without the associate five times increase in revenue. This made us realize the responsibility the carriers have to maintain reliability and performance by us as customers.

Ericsson Canada’s CTO Dragan Nerandzic highlighted the frenetic pace of wireless applications development and deployment in Asia-Pac and Europe, compared to North America. We are wondering what are the primary reasons for this dramatic difference.

At the Building Broadband panel discussion the issue centred around the need for a Universal Service. Saskel CEO Robert Watson said in order to get province wide broadband coverage, they had to use multiple types of wired and wireless networks. No surprise to us (Fox is based in Mount Albert, Ont., a rural community – ED).

Barrett Xplore CEO John Maduri highlighted the challenges of running out of capacity within their assigned spectrum, and how they have waitlist for customers wanting to buy service, but can’t supply it.Also communicated the need for more frequent release of spectrum by Industry Canada. We hadn’t really ever thought about this as customers.

TeraGo Networks CEO Bryan Boyd is focusing on the SMB segment, which they defined as 25-500 employees. Their value is to provide their customers with more bandwidth than their competitors. We found it interesting comment that no customer has more than one per cent of recurring revenue, which minimizes their dependency on any one customer.

Google’s Richard Whitt gave an interesting perspective to this panel as a content rather than transport provider. Whitt, the Washington Telecom and Media Counsel for Google, raised questions about the future availability of bandwidth, the role of fiber versus wireless, and the lack of resources, i.e. geek squad types to support customers. Lastly, he commented on the growing cost of acquisition as more content is downloaded to multiple devices.

Lunch time keynotes

The EVP of Americas & India Qualcomm, Peggy Johnson gave an overview of the trends, challenges and opportunities of the growing use and need for always on, everywhere information transport. She challenged everyone to think about not only the effect the youth market has now on us as an industry, but how they will drive expectations for smaller, faster, better converged devices. The results will be expanded, extended high speed mobile networks, driving innovation in our every days lives through information anywhere, anytime, any media on any device.

At the Unified Communications (UC) panel discussion, the group talked about the next generation services for the enterprise.

Five leading UC and network vendors – MTS Allstream, Microsoft Canada, Bell Canada, Juniper Networks and SpinVox, lead by facilitator Jamie Barron, Partner, Deloitte Consulting, presented their thoughts on Unified Communications – the next generation services for the Enterprise.

They each had different definitions of UC, but the one that we found most interesting was where UC is the marriage of voice, data and computing hardware and software delivered over wired and wireless networks to enable people to work together effectively.

Each vendor had their own version of the benefits and challenges of UC, and all felt that there were real sustainable business benefits to be obtained.

My question to the industry is….how are they going to evolve their own internal resources, and provide guidance to us as customers to evolve our ICT resources to deploy/support UC in the future?

Afternoon sessions

Research in Motion’s Mike Lazaridis, the President & Co-CEO of the Blackberry maker talked about the changes in technologies and applications during his careers, and commented that the major problem we will now face is the ability of the ‘networks’ to be able to support video applications.

MTS Allstream, president Dean Prevost commented that 50 per cent of the Canadian GNP is from SMBs of 50 employees or less, yet we asCanadians are lagging in ICT productivity as SMBs.

I believe this is because the industry (telecom and computing) has not figured out how to cost effectively use technology solutions to sell and service us as SMBs. Many of us are in fact micro-enterprises in our needs and sophistication of ICT, and could do business electronically, if we were given the opportunities.

Phil Sorgen’s last stand

The outgoing president of Microsoft Canada, Phil Sorgen talked about the ‘new normal’ of computing and network technology, where the requirements and demands for computing and network services are ‘demanded and expected’ by the consumer, but they may not be willing to pay for this normal state.

I have to challenge the ICT industry to determine appropriate value propositions related to productivity, quality of life, personal/corporate safety or security that would ‘strike a nerve’ for us to pay for the ‘new normal’. Try to live and work without these technologies!

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.Roberta.Fox@FOXGROUP.ca, 905.473.3369 x 1001, Editor in Chief, FOX GROUP Media.