Customers, not technology, to drive future networks

Want to see what a next generation broadband network looks like?

Don’t look at the technology of the future, says the head of a data service provider. Instead, look at how people are using technology today at home and realize they will shape new networks.

“We are developing expectations of more customized interactive experiences and we aren’t confining them to our private lives,” Tony Ciciretto, president of Cogeco Data Services Inc., told a telecommuncations conference panel in Toronto on Monday. CDS, a provider of fibre to businesses in Toronto, division of Montreal’s Cogeco Cable Inc.

“We bring them [the experiences] to our workplace and they are enabling new levels of collaboration in the enterprise,” Ciciretto said. “They are influencing the ways enterpises look at opportunies and risks and shaping the way we conduct business today.

“So in this world we have to look at application-driven networks that are highly customizable.”

Ciciretto was one of a number of service providers on a panel entitled “Access and Beyond” at the annual Canadian Telecom Summit, which features a look at the industry from executives of of wired and wireless operators.

Success for network operators and service providers will be driven by creating greater end user experience that meets specific user needs, Ciciretto said.

“Increasingly individuals are empoweed to drive innovation up through the organization,” he said. “The genie is out of the bottle, and in this case the genie is collaboration.”

To meet those needs operators and service providers have to create application-driven networks that are highly customizable. “Providers should no longer view users as customers but members of our community.”

“The ability that will have the greatest inmpact in our success in the future is our ability to listen to our customers, to understand their needs and work side by side with them.”

Network speed will become less of a factor as networks become more homogenous, he predicted, which is why success for providers will be solely by designing superior end-user experience through personalized applications.

Panel member Bryan Boyd, president of TeraGo Networks, warned that unless broadband is extended deeper into the country large number of Canadians risk being left behind in the digital divide. TeraGo offers fixed wireless broadband to suburban and rural businesses.

“The Elliot Lakes, the Moosonees, the Barries of the world, they need access to broadband service,” he said. “Businesses need access to broadband services as much as the Torontos and Burlingtons. Otherwise these folks are going to get left further and further behind.”

He didn’t offer a specific solution, but in an interview after the session he said the federal government’s promise to liberalize foreign ownership laws would make it easier for his company to access capital for network investment.

The conference continues Tuesday with a keynote from the chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Konrad von Finckenstein and, separately, the conference’s annual regulatory discussion panel.


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