The Future of Telecom

I spent some time at the RVC SoftEdge Conference today. The panel on telecomm was pretty depressing.

Dr David Cleevely, of the consulting firm Analysys, says that telecomm revenues worldwide are going to shrink over the next ten years as the business gets increasingly commoditized.

He also says that the mobile market is going to flatten out soon as that market saturates.

Maybe the most controversial comment Cleevely made was his opinoin that the WLAN (802…) market is not going to be very large as 3G and other technologies will be clearly superior.

Ohad Finkelstein gave us his entertaining “five layers” of telecomm

1 – In the ground – the fiber. so much of this investment will go wasted.

2 – The PTTs – they are around to stay, but with a ton of debt. they can’t innovate.

3 – Alternative Carriers – this wil be a very thin layer.

4 – Resurection – WorldCom and others. they will come back with clean balance sheets.

5 – Newco – none of these anywhere in sight.

These guys were really bearish. They may be right. But my take on this is somewhat different.

I think the telecomm market isn’t falling apart, it is just rebuilding itself in horizontal layers ala the technology industry. This deconstruction and reconstruction may take a while to play out and result in a lot of pain, but the net result will be an open network like the data network we have which is the Internet. that will provide a platform for innovation that will eventually take the telecomm industry forward again.