2020 Vision

Photo Credit ; Carmi Levy, @carmilevy more at http://writteninc.blogspot.com/

The world does not need another blog post about predictions or trends for the coming New Year. Or another Top 10 list. Those are far too common and overdone. For this years first blog post, I thought I would instead focus on a few topics that I see becoming of increasing importance, especially to service providers in the competitive space against Big Telco. You can read about 5G, AI, IoT and other acronyms elsewhere.

Telecom Fraud
The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in fraud on our networks. Hacking by criminal networks is easier than ever and they avoid prosecution by doing it across international borders. The migration to IP networks and softswitches have opened up new avenues fro the bad actors to attack. This trend shows no signs of abating, meaning that as an industry we must put more time, effort and manpower into safeguarding our networks and businesses to avoid catastrophic losses.

The Decline of Voice
Worldwide voice revenues continue to decline. We have highlighted this trend before here. Silicon Valley giants like Microsoft (Skype), Facebook (WhatsApp, Messenger), Apple (FaceTime) and Google have sucked away a lot of the consumer voice and messaging traffic from worldwide networks. As service providers we need to look for other sources of revenue rather than trying to compete for a slice of an ever shrinking pie.

This is where looking at other market sectors such as Enterprises and SMB for growth that are underserved or poorly served by Big Telco come into play. Or looking for markets like International MPLS data circuits or cloud connectivity where Big Telco does not have 90% market share. Finally, the best way to compete against “free” services is not to offer low cost service; rather it is to offer premium, high quality services that Silicon Valley and Big Telco are not equipped to provide. (more on quality here)

Recession is coming
We are now in one the longest, if not the longest, economic expansions in the history of the United States. History has shown that this cannot keep going indefinitely, a recession is coming soon. When the US gets a recession, Canada gets an even bigger one. As competitive service providers we must be prepared for this on two key fronts; expenses and top-line revenue.

Now is the time to tighten the screws on your organization from top to bottom. Examine all costs, especially all S,G & A line items to see where savings can be had. Billing systems, payment services, any form of overhead costs should all be examined and cost savings sought wherever possible.

Top-line revenue ? Here is a counter-intuitive tip from a veteran of many boom-bust cycles. Times of recession can often be times of the best top-line growth for companies like ours. During hard times, business customers are more receptive to moving away from their current providers to be able to save money. This is when they will look to competitive suppliers. So have your marketing and especially your front line sales staff prepared for this opportunity.

I hope these topics gave you few ideas for your business for the coming year. As always, Amitel and AurorA are here to help. Reach out to me to have deeper discussions on the above, or any other pain points you may be experiencing. Looking forward to growing together with you in 2020.

Your Friend in Telecom

Timo

Thanks again to Carmi Levy, @carmilevy for use of his superb photograph. Follow his work at http://writteninc.blogspot.com/

Global Internet Phenomena

Sandvine produces the Global Internet Phenomena Report

It seems that each year that I went to the Canadian Telecom Summit, one of the highlights was Dave Caputo, the former CEO of Sandvine, giving a presentation with pearls of wisdom from their Global Internet Phenomena Report. That annual report was also then quoted in many other presentations as the authoritative source for what was happening on broadband networks around the world.

For example, back in 2012, Sandvine focussed on Social Networking and reported that Facebook was one of the top 4 applications on the Web and that over 50% of mobile devices communicated with Facebook each hour !

The 2019 Global Internet Phenomena Report was just released by Sandvine on Sept 10. Sandvine, a Waterloo company (forgive me some local cheerleading) has unparalleled visibility into the Internet industry with an installed base of over 2.5 billion subscribers worldwide across over 160 Tier 1 and Tier 2 fixed, mobile, WiFi and satellite operators. (note that China and India are not included in this data set)

So what is changing in how the world uses the Internet ? A lot !

Video is obviously king, but in ways that keep changing and evolving. Netflix led the way with streaming but now we are seeing more and more competitive streaming services; Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and new ones coming from Disney, Apple, CBS and others. The big traditional cable and telco companies have been fighting back, trying to stop cord cutting with their own streaming offerings and video on demand.

How many different services will a consumer buy to replace their cable ? What do they do if the content they want is not on the services they are buying ? Well, the answer may be in this report as Sandvine is seeing a resurgence in BitTorrent traffic. The release of the final season of Game of Thrones on HBO , or the blockbuster movie Avengers:Endgame could be seen in the increase in BitTorrent traffic.

The big players in Web 2.0, the ones whose shares currently dominate the global stock markets are the FAANG ; Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Would it really be a surprise to find out that they also dominate the traffic on the Internet ?

Some other highlights from this edition of the report include:

  • Video is over 60% of the total downstream volume of traffic on the internet.
  • Netflix is 12.60% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire internet
  • Google is 12% of overall internet traffic, driven by YouTube, search, and the Android ecosystem.
  • Gaming traffic and gaming-related bandwidth consumption is increasing as gaming downloads, Twitch streaming, and eSports go mainstream.
  • BitTorrent is over 27% of total upstream volume of traffic
  • Facebook applications make up over 15% of the total internet traffic in APAC.

The report includes spotlights on the traffic share leaders for video, social networking, messaging, audio streaming, and gaming.

If you are interested, you can get a download of the report here

We’ve Reached Peak Voice

Woman looking at her phone in surprise

This article originally appeared in Telegeography

It’s true that 2015 marked a turning point in the international voice market—the first time since the Great Depression that international call traffic declined. However, that slump in voice traffic has turned into a rout, as carriers’ traffic fell a further 8.4 percent in 2017 to 484 billion minutes.

Graph of International Voice Traffic 1998-2018
What Goes Up Must Come Down International Voice Traffic 1998-2018

Going Over the Top

The same transition to mobile and social calling that drove a 20-year boom in voice traffic has left the industry uniquely vulnerable to the rise of mobile social media.


Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger topped 1.3 billion monthly active users in 2018, and WeChat is not far behind, with just over 1 billion active users in September 2018.


TeleGeography estimates that just seven communications apps—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, Viber, Line, and KakaoTalk—combined for over 5 billion monthly users in September 2018. These estimates exclude apps for which directly comparable data is unavailable, including Apple’s FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype (the latter two of which have over 1 billion downloads from Google’s App Store).

Calculating OTT’s Impact

TeleGeography has fairly reliable estimates of Skype’s traffic through 2013, when the company carried 214 billion minutes of on-net (Skype-to-Skype) international traffic.

GRaph of Carrier and OTT Traffic 1998-2018
OTT Delivering More Minutes Every Year Carrier and OTT Traffic 1998-2018

This calculation suggests that cross-border OTT traffic overtook international carrier traffic in 2016, and would reach nearly 952 billion minutes in 2018, far exceeding the 450 billion minutes of carrier traffic projected by TeleGeography.


Telcos terminated 547 billion minutes of international traffic in 2013, and Skype plus carrier traffic totaled 761 billion minutes. If we assume that total international—carrier plus over-the-top (OTT)—traffic has continued to grow at a relatively modest 13 percent annually since 2013, the combined volume of carrier and OTT international traffic would have expanded to 1.24 trillion minutes in 2017, and to 1.40 trillion minutes in 2018.

Want to know more? Take a closer look at the source—the recently-updated TeleGeography Report and Database.