A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

BT’s Strategic Direction

If a telco is capable of technology innovation, such a telco is undoubtedly BT.  Over the course of the winter JB Rangaswami obtained the services of Telco 2.0 founder Martin Geddes. Consequently, I was eager to see what this portends for the continuing evolution of this national carrier that seems determined to invent a new role for itself as a company that will be something other than a drag on the nation's economy.

BT Design is now named BT Innovate and Design.  This is the outcome of a reorganization that saw the departure of Matt Bross as Chief Technical Officer. This was a decision that quite frankly was not surprising in view of the fact that the technology choices for BT's 21CN integrated IP network have been made and the network now is largely in place. It also carries through the logical emphasis that flows from BT's admission that Google may be BT’s most important competitor as BT CIO Al Noor Ramji said in June of 2006

Since the telco can no longer count on a monopoly over voice -- what the strategy team of Geddes and Rangaswami seems to be doing at BT is fueling the development of an open-source business services platform.  BT will market this platform to enterprises in a way that it will bring them productivity increases and cost savings in their dealings with their customers.  Such a business services platform contains voice almost as an afterthought.  What it has to offer is primarily capabilities of dealing with the customer-service life-cycle that can be integrated in such a way that BT can create a platform where each enterprise customer can pick, choose, and tailor capabilities obtainable from BT in a fashion that is far more cost-effective than such a company could design for itself.

BT seems to be in a position where it can effectively leverage the open source capabilities that Rangaswami developed at Dresdner in the aftermath of the dot com bubble and can apply them companywide in conjunction with the three or so years of experience in developing potential new telco business models that Martin Geddes has acquired as a part of his experience as a cofounder of Telco 2.0.

Martin clearly understands that it is possible to use the new technologies of Web 2.0 and beyond to develop tailor-made business services platforms that can be both far more malleable and cost effective for enterprises in dealing with their customer relationships than mere voice.

One of Martin's most interesting observations is that he and BT still see Google as a very significant threat three years after its original mention by Al Noor Ramji. Why? Because Google potentially could offer free voice service to enterprises and to many individuals. Martin explains that carriers had better be ready with something better when that happens. It is Martin's objective to ensure that BT is not lacking in these capabilities. He is presently carrying out his work in strategy planning with the various BT business units in efforts aimed at designing these new business tools that could make carriers assets to instead of drains upon their national economies.

Two postscripts in the interview cover first  a description of the 21CN network aimed at understanding how it facilitates the capabilities that Martin explains and  second a summary of the development and purpose of BT Global Services by Tim Cowen who was one of the executives principally involved.


FTTH vs Cable. p. 24

The technologies are no longer as incompatible as they once were

Goldstein: Cable and ILEC are separate because they used to be incompatible technologies. The FCC presciently prohibited ILECs from owning cable in urban markets, thus allowing a duopoly instead of monopoly. But FTTH can do both. The correct approach is to have a neutral LoopCo pull wholesale FTTH and let any service provider use it -- cable, ISP or telephone.

Paulk Budde: In these debates the longer-term national interest is often disregarded. The debate is confined to the technology—what it can and cannot do—and it also concentrates on a rather short-term timeframe, say of the next five years. Interestingly, even most cable companies admit that ultimately FttH is the best infrastructure solution. But this message is being diluted as the focus of the debate then moves from the underlying digital economy to HDTV content.

In order to match the flexibility of fibre the cablecos argue that with switched video technology they can actually compensate for most, if not all, of the advantages that fibre has. And there is no doubt that, based on current Internet and entertainment requirements, cable broadband (especially DOCSIS 3.0) can do the job. But and increasing number of applications in both entertainment and other video-based (communication) services require a synchronous use of the infrastructure, and cable does have some severe limitations here.

From Carlota Perez p. 26

A new paper is in Open Democracy, a web based magazine
http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/economics/email/how-to-make-economic-crisis-creative They have a problem with the version to print and the pdf so I am attaching it.

Erik Cecil on Why the Stimulus Must be

Gotten Right, p. 27

So too, fiber optics is to networks what asphalt is to roads. It's the stuff we build with; it's not some magic, wonderful, new, or different or expensive thing. What's expensive, what's bleeding us to death is the continued indulgence in the illusion that the means -politics as usual - will deliver us anything or to anywhere than the same. This system will not last for much longer. It is unsustainable to pretend to charge the public, to tax the public, to inhibit growth, stymie innovation, serve monopoly, and ossify markets in the name of perpetuating the very means that created this result. It will fall just as surely as a house divided cannot stand. [snip]

While I don't advocate burglary or computer hacking, I do strongly advocate hacking the regulatory meme; turning it's strengths into weaknesses and your weaknesses into strengths.

In this regard, relying on state or federal regulators to do anything other than what they've always done is the unwinnable scenario. Instead, you attack precisely where they cannot defend (and there are some soft spots - very powerful soft spots, precisely because there is no law in this country; there is only political and monetary compromise), and when you attack you attack from the highest in heaven. As applied here the highest in heaven is the greatest, highest, most beneficial public good; it is integrity of purpose, of technology, and of service. Serving all, universally and without discrimination, is the highest good.

But you cannot be in and of this system. In order to succeed and not get caught up in it, you must work with and within it but never, ever be of it. You can never serve monopoly impulse, whether directly or indirectly. You must be able to build out local fiber and provide to any and all - and make money - without excusing yourself because the rest of the system is corrupt. One does not transcend a corrupt system by acting only partly in complicity with it. One transcends it by transcending it. Period.

Fiber Failing in Muni networks in USA? p.32

Paul Budde asks about rumors n the Australian press.

Jim Baller: Bottom line: Municipal fiber projects that provide retail service and have been operating for at least four years are just doing fine, some spectacularly so. At the same time, several wholesale-only fiber projects have struggled -- such as those in Utah and other states that effectively prohibit municipal retail services. See http://tinyurl.com/cnt7no These facts may be inconvenient for advocates of the wholesale-only model, but they cannot be ignored.

John St Julien: It's probably worth separating your query into two parts: 1) Does Heartland and their hangers-on have anything worth seriously trying to understand and 2) Does the US experience with municipal wholesale-only networks have much to say about Australia's project. The easy answers are NO, and NO.

NTIA Mismanages Broadband Stimulus, p.40

Harold Feld: Will NTIA Smother BTOP In The Cradle? Why that would be a disaster for policy, and how to fix it. http://www.wetmachine.com/totsf/

Ready to do the right thing on mapping on June 1, after Strikling’s confirmation NTIA lets the Incumbents write the rules and hires Rachelle Chong’s mapping administrator to evaluates national level proposals>

Read Art Brodsky’s comments:  July 30 It seems like only yesterday that we were saying that a game of chicken was likely to develop between the government and the telecom industry over the data that is supposed to be reported under the stimulus broadband mapping program. Actually, it was the day before yesterday. But never mind that, it seems the day after that story was published, a group of telecom executives huddled with Larry Strickling, director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to express their concerns about the data that is supposed to be reported under the stimulus broadband mapping program.

There should be no surprises here. This was the other shoe waiting to drop.

snip The whole mapping exercise is already on its way to being substantially corrupted as the telecom industry's creation, which exists to prevent data from being public, is collecting mapping contracts right and left through the efforts of their lobbying and influence. There is absolutely no reason for NTIA to concede on the data collection. NTIA and its supporters in the Administration and in Congress should realize that if agency backs down on this assault from the industry, there will be that much less of value worth saving. At the end of the day, somebody is going to be in control of the mapping. It will either be the public, and the public interest, as represented by NTIA, or the industry.

And Brodsky on August 8: If this mapping exercise is going to be worth even 1/10 of the money Congress appropriated, it's about time for the government to step away from the table with the industry, remind itself of its public interest obligations and quit giving away the store. It doesn't matter if it was a "good deal" or a "bad deal" to make those changes. There was no reason for any deal. Either scrap the program, extend the deadlines and start over, or hold the industry to some meaningful commitments. NTIA has to choose, and these choices to start the gradual surrender process are not at all auspicious.

Feld: Verizon initially announced it would deploy FIOS universally in 2005, following deregulation of broadband. At that time, VZ had, I believe, 33 million subscribers.

Since then, VZ has shed its rural lines to drop to approx. 27 million subcribers. Of these, it intends to reach only 17 million with fiber. http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/2170

The Incumbents Do What They Please

Including Using FBI as Police Force, p. 49

Cecil: Fred, agreed to appearances. Looking at the affidavit, however, if we take the VoIP dispute out of this and what's left?

if memory serves, they could not get into the data center without the voip complaint. In other words, allege what you will as the remaining facts do not appear relevant to getting into that data center. And the owner has protested this vociferously at least in what I have read. Remember, the threshold here is alleging stuff on info and belief and reasonableness of the agent's belief. Fourth amendment thresholds, anymore, are quite permissive.

With that, do you think this could happen again given your knowledge and background and history of this industry and/or direction of voip regulation?

Secondly, are we so far gone as a nation of laws that we have to locate gear outside the country to protect our rights? Even if you do go somewhere else, couldn't
they just block your packets or is the point to have multiple diverse routes?

Third, why couldn't this happen with a DCMA dispute where prosecutors allege ISP involvement? Would it not be possible for a technically sophisticated entity to make out cases that your usual Joe Caberent state or federal judge might not see through?

Aug 15 COOK Report: From a European member comes these very useful links. Worth reading. A swamp and a jungle all rolled into one.

I like Erik’s comments.

Driven out of USA
Crydon Tech owner comments


The 21st Century Telco as Business Process Platform Enabler

BT Innovate & Design Crafts Open Platform to Take Friction Out of Multisided Business Processes


When Telcos Refuse to Innovate    p. 1

Catching Up with BT Design   p. 2

The Service Delivery Platform (SDP)  p. 3

JP Discusses Innovation in the Financial Services Industry.  p. 4

BT Innovate & Design  p. 5

The Analytical Background  p. 8

Voice: One Product, Many Business Models  p. 9

Voice as a Platform, Not a Product  p. 9

Be Proud to Be the Phone Company  p. 10

And Finally the Interview  p. 10

Six Generic Steps in the Customer Relations Life Cycle  p. 12

Platform Revenue Figures?  p. 13

Ultimately the Competition is Companies like Google – not other Telcos  p. 14

Interaction with the Rest of BT  p. 15

Needed a Cooperative Eco-System  p. 16

So What Exactly is BT? p.17

A Postscript on 21 CN  p. 18

A Note from Tim Cowen on the History and Reach of BT Global Services  p. 20

Kevin Marks Joins BT via Ribbit  p. 23


Symposium Discussion - July 17 - August 17, 2009

FTTH Versus Cable - Thoughts on the Strategic Direction   p. 24

Two New Papers from Carlota Perez  p. 26

Erik Cecil Explains Why Getting the Broadband Stimulus Right is of Major Importance  p. 27

Failing Municipal Networks in USA?  p. 31

NTIA Mis-manages Broadband Stimulus  p. 40

The Stench at NTIA Continues p. 43

Connected Nation's Other Shoe Drops On NTIA  p. 44

NTIA Losing Game of Data Chicken  p. 46

Verizon & Fairpoint and Then ATT and Verizon as Laws unto Themselves  p. 49?

ATT and Verizon as Laws unto themselves  p. 50

Executive Summary  p. 52