Election Day

Today is finally the day of the 43rd Canadian Federal General Election. I am sure we are all exhausted from the campaign to date. This post is not about “who to vote for” nor an exhortation to go out and do your civic duty. Rather it is a short summary of some topics specifically related to telecom and technology in general in Canada that are really important to our future prosperity that I don’t think were discussed much in the platforms and debates.

Innovation
Canada’s future prosperity depends on innovation. The Council of Canadian Innovators say Canada’s “productivity is lagging and our future economic prosperity is at risk”. Entrepreneurs that create start-ups and grow scale-ups need an environment that encourages them to grow and scale here in Canada and allow them to compete globally. They need skilled talent (engineers, and also designers, marketers, sales professionals and executives), growth capital and access to markets and customers.

Canada produces a lot of world class talent in our universities and colleges and we need better incentives to keep them here as opposed to going to the USA for higher wages and more attractive opportunities. We need a mindset shift towards the entrepreneurs that are shouldering great risk to build innovative companies in Canada with tax measures supporting innovation, venture funding, employee stock options etc. Plus we need a Federal government that can attract attention to our innovative companies here, even to the extent of procuring products and services from them .

5G and Huawei
The next generation network is being built right now, globally and here in Canada. 5G is transformative, not just a faster network, but also providing lower latency and opening up a host of new use cases especially to power the Internet of Things (IoT). Autonomous connected cars are just one example. We are going to see all sorts of devices connected to our networks, direct machine to machine communications, that will demand security levels beyond what we currently have.

There is an ongoing debate worldwide, prompted by our Five Eyes national security partners Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand over whether equipment from Huawei, a technology vendor from Communist China, should be allowed access to our networks. The Huawei debate is also part of a larger debate about Canada’s relationship with China, a country that does not have the same norms and values as Canada. This was not addressed at all during the election campaign, yet it is vital to our future.

Connectivity (Rural , Remote and Financial)
Access to the Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity in the modern economy. We need to ensure that all citizens have reliable access to high speed broadband Internet. There is an urban/rural divide for sure, but this issue extends well beyond that. We need connectivity for rural areas; as an example, much of modern agriculture relies on internet technology now. We need connectivity in our remote areas such as the Arctic as well as Northern Ontario , Northern Quebec, Labrador. Of course so that people living there can participate in the modern economy but also as an extension of our sovereignty. With the changes in sea ice happening in the Northwest Passage we should also be looking into laying undersea fiber cables through the passage to provide another route connecting Europe to Asia. Finally, connectivity also means affordability . There are people in urban areas who are not online because they cant afford it. This digital gap also needs to be further addressed, especially for school age children who need the Internet for their school work.

I will be staying up late tonight watching the election returns as I am a political junky. Even though these issues were not front and centre in the run-up to todays election, I hope they will be addressed in our next Parliament as our future really does depend upon it.

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

Eat your own Dogfood

What is the best way to know your customer’s needs ?

Over the years I have developed very close ties with my customers. I like to say that at AurorA and Amitel I do business with “Friends and Family”. The best way I have found to really know my customers needs is to actually become a customer of theirs.

It is a variation on the concept of “Eating your own Dogfood” where employees are expected to use their own products and services as a way to understand its real world experience. By using my customers services, I have some skin-in-the game and really get to know my customers intimately.

Over the years I have bought SIP Trunks, DID’s, Internet Services, Voice Termination, PRI’s, T-1’s, and more from a wide variety of my customers. I have also been happy to refer prospects to them, looking for the same types of services that I’ve been buying myself. I feel confident in recommending a service if I actually use it myself and can honestly vouch for it.

The best part is that all of these companies are part of the competitive telecom and internet landscape, competing against the oligopoly. We are all in the fight against Big Telecom together.

So the next time you need a telecom service, look to your customers first. If it is something that they don’t provide, contact me ! If it is not something that AurorA and Amitel provide directly, I would be happy to recommend one of MY customers to you as I am probably using their service already myself.

Why do you hate your service provider ?

Unhappy woman with Thumbs down

Here is a fun experiment; Google industries or companies with the worst customer service. Any guesses at what industry comes out on top ?

Outside of government, telecommunications leads by an overwhelming margin with an Ipsos survey in 2018 having 38% of the US population saying this sector has the worst customer service in the country. (Healthcare was next with 18%… quite the drop)

Leading the top 5 industries most hated by customers according the the American Customer Satisfaction Index ? Cable Providers, Internet Providers and Wireless Phone Service Providers.

“Hated industries. You know the ones—the industries that customers avoid dealing with as much as possible. The places customers go out of their way to avoid talking to or interacting with. These are the companies that have bad reputations of dishonesty and not treating their customers fairly. The sad part is that most of these industries are nearly unavoidable, which means at some point, customers have to take the plunge and interact with them.”

Do you think this only applies to the USA ? Nope, it seems to be just as prevalent in Canada according to the Huffington Post, where telecom had the worst reputation among all industries in Canada. Even worse than oil companies !

So why do people love to hate their telecom service providers ? Could it be a combination of
– High Prices
– Unreliable Service
– Poor Customer Service
– Slow or unreliable products/services
– Time and effort to resolve issues via contact centres
– Unhelpful agents
– Surprise Extra fees, charges, overages
– (add your 2 cents here)

This is not new. I have spent my entire adult life in this industry , I’ve been in telecom for over 36 years since graduating from Engineering at UWaterloo with almost all of it spent on the competitive side. The side challenging the oligopoly , the handful of companies that control over 90% of almost every telecom service market in Canada; TV, Internet, Phone etc In those 36 years it has been a constant refrain I heard from consumers, friends and family.

Since Canadians love to hate their service providers, why don’t they demand better ? Why not support the competitive players that are challenging the oligopoly that are providing better service, at better prices with innovative products ? Why not demand more ?

Or is it just more fun to complain ? What do you think ?

Clearcable Technology Summit 2019

Clearcable Technology Summit Poster

I was lucky enough to score an invite to Clearcable’s 14th Annual Technology Summit 2019 held at the fabulous WhiteOaks Conference Resort and Spa at Niagara-on-the-Lake on June27th.

Statues welcoming you to the lobby of White Oaks

Clearcable Networks is a specialized telecommunications technical consulting firm focused on the needs of Service Providers by developing of new business revenue streams, maintaining existing infrastructure and proposing new advancements in telecommunications sector globally.

The Summit is a chance for the experts at Clearcable to bring in customers and partners and deliver to them up-to-date information on topics of interest to telecom service providers.

The topics covered included overviews of our connected future, the promise of 5G, Challenges with IoT data and security and Next Get PON (Passive Optical Networking). And that was just before lunch ! The afternoon covered Metered learning, Distributed Architecture and Remote Phy, LoRaWan for IoT, Evolution of cable networks, Routing Security and the Connected Home.

The amount of information presented made for a very full day of learning. It was also a chance to network with high level people from across the country in different industries all dealing with providing telecom solutions. It was a pleasant change for me to meet people from outside of my usual circle of contacts, (as well as discuss basketball with some new friends from the USA).

So thank you to my friends at Clearcable for inviting me and I already look forward to next years Summit !

Give Thanks for Protection from Telecom Fraud


It is an unfortunate fact that the hackers of the world like to plan their attacks on public holidays when network supervision may not be at its highest.

Please remember to be vigilant this Thanksgiving Weekend and guard access to your switches. For those in Kitchener/Waterloo, enjoy the Gemütlichkeit of Oktoberfest, but please be careful to ensure your network is protected first before indulging.

AurorA has to deliver any traffic that is sent to it , so you are responsible for any unauthorized access to your network. AurorA will pass on any alerts that it gets of suspicious traffic patterns. AurorA has also implemented automatic blocking of B numbers once we detect a suspicious fraudulent traffic pattern in an attempt to minimize losses.

As highlighted on this blog AurorA has taken other steps such as the weekly reports of suspicous blocked call attempts, an industry leading robust and accurate dial plan and intensified focus on high quality terminating routes.

We will stay vigilant, it is part of the value add of sending all your international traffic to AurorA.
Premium quality and the best mitigation of fraud.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving long weekend !

Timo Vainionpaa