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Cisco’s Kevin Shatzkamer Discusses the Future of Mobile Video

Kevin Shatzkamer is the Chief Architect for Cisco Mobility and speaks to the mobile research Cisco has developed in helping Mobile Service Providers reach their ROI goals and objectives in projecting an increasingly demand driven market.

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Kevin Shatzkamer is the Chief Architect for Cisco Mobility and speaks to the mobile research Cisco has developed in helping Mobile Service Providers reach their ROI goals and objectives in projecting an increasingly demand driven market.

World Cup and Mobility

Q. How will current World Cup viewership demand impact the mobile community from a network capacity standpoint?

VIEWING SOURCE – WORLD CUP GAMES

Source Company %
Internet ESPN-ESPN3 31%
Radio ESPN Radio 8%
Mobile ESPN Mobile Sites 6%
“Traditional TV remains the dominate source of viewing for the games”

A. There has been speculation for years that increased demand for mobile video would tax and possibly crash current networks and infrastructures of mobile operators. A predictor may be The World Cup games being held in South Africa.  “We know that AT&T, VERIZON, SPRINT, MobiTV and QUALCOMM FloTV have teamed up to work with ESPN to offer mobile video coverage of the games.” From real-time research conducted by ESPN on current World Cup video demand has produced the following statistics:

MOBILE VIDEO TRENDING

Event Source Total Views Total Days
Vancouver Olympics Mobile 2 .0 Million 17
World Cup Mobile 1.8  Million 7

“What is interesting in these statistics is that not only are people watching on mobile video, but they are spending an inordinately long period of time watching video on their mobile device, which is significant. Speaking to network capability in handling this viewership, think of over one-hundred thousand cell towers in the U.S. alone, not to mention globally, to handle this demand and you can see the network is not currently being impacted significantly.”

Mobile Traffic in the Future

Q. Where does mobile traffic go from here and what are the demands going to be for video in both near and long term?

A. Cisco predicts that sixty-six percent of mobile traffic in the future will be video and whether the FCC’s reclamation of needed spectrum is enough is not yet known. Kevin goes on to explain that whenever you have a delivery method that leverages a finite resource, such as spectrum; there will always be increased contention depending on what people are doing over that network at any particular time. 

It’s important to remember that video over wireless can be taxing on the entire network, not just the radio interface.  One example is the backhaul network, which is always provisioned with some level of oversubscription.  There are technologies that can be used today like video optimization and multicasting technologies which can help a service provider better distribute and deliver mobile video. Other solutions include moving from streaming video to more adaptive protocols like fragmented MP4.

Video and the Network

Q. Why should we look at mobile video as just another application within the network and not a bandwidth hog that could potentially crash the network during peak usage?

A. As an analogy to building strong video infrastructure, Kevin points out that Cable Operators have invested tremendous amounts of capital in their video delivery platforms. It is important to understand that cable has the revenue models which support this kind of investment. Wireless on the other hand has not developed the kind of revenue streams for video since the demand has not been sufficient to support that investment, albeit on a smaller scale.

However, research indicates that as mobile video continues to grow, these kinds of investments will be needed to upgrade current networks to both capitalize on revenue streams and handle the burgeoning demand for video over increasingly diverse devices. Long-term, video might not be looked  at strictly as an over-the-top service for mobile, but instead an opportunity for mobile service providers to insert themselves into the value chain; if this successfully occurs, the infrastructure investments which need to take place will happen.

Cisco’s experience with operators continues to indicate a focus on optimizing the entire network, including the backhaul, which needs to be a primary consideration in subscription models. Cisco is helping operators control the impact of video by implementing intelligent network capabilities in the core, mobile services and gateways, and backhaul networks.  These solutions add immediate value by conserving the RF itself, but also provide the foundation for new monetization capabilities.  He adds that adding more spectrum is helpful to the problem, but should not be the only focus of mobile operators.

Kevin points to a consistent theme across all models whether it’s Docsis3 or LTE in that the Internet Protocol (IP) is becoming less about a transport mechanism and more about a service delivery platform. He compares Docsis3.0 carrying cable signals to a modem which becomes your access point, where mobile will use the cell tower as the same type user access point. In essence, from the access point back through the network, IP will be the primary technology for service delivery.

Net Neutrality and Regulation

Q. What is the potential impact of Net Neutrality possible legislation which could affect service provider ability to manage their networks?

A. The crux of Cisco’s policy release takes a practical view regarding any initiatives that would control service provider network management strength. In essence, “Cisco supports competition within the marketplace and believes that any regulation based on any perceived or potential future abuses are not in the best interest of logical network management practices.”

At best the outlook for where technology will be in the future is uncertain, but as progression in technology evolves as a result of private market forces, any attempt to regulate those forces would dampen private investment as a natural evolution. It is inherent that networks be managed in a way to promote bandwidth optimization which fills the needs of both casual and heavy users. Fair usage will be critical to enabling any network of the future and requires an intelligent IP infrastructure.  This also sets the stage to use tiered pricing to offer expanded services critical to a B2B and B2C economical model.

Tiered Pricing Models

Q. Why is tiered pricing important for Service Providers in the Future?

A. Quoting Bernstein Research to predict the evolution of mobile data and how fast it is growing in a shift from a voice dominated model to a data dominate model, Kevin conveys that 50% -70% of future revenue will begin to come from a data model with a de-coupling of mobile revenue and traffic with revenues now accounting for $.43 per Megabyte. Bernstein predicts that by 2014 those current revenues will drop to $.02 per Megabyte and points to current revenue models as becoming deflationary.

While networks are moving from circuit to packet models as they continue to upgrade their infrastructure, the amount of capital invested as compared to resulting ROI is expected to decrease 30% by 2014. Increasingly mobile service providers will be looking for ways to monetize their networks. While the tiering trend has been with the cable industry for quite some time, it has not yet evolved within mobile markets.

Kevin predicts this will change as the industry evolves to the tiered approach beginning with flat-rate for basic users and progressing to higher level packages as individual demand increases. Using the 80-20 rule, Kevin compares how only 20% of all users can demand an exorbitant amount of bandwidth and tiering is an inevitable market force in the future. In reality, this will not affect the majority of users where pricing will be very competitive, but will take the heavy users to an appropriate bundling strategy that can handle specific demands at a relative price model.

Creating New Revenue Models becomes Critical

It can be surmised that current pricing models within the mobile industry is driving traffic to higher levels especially with the amount of rich applications being afforded customers due to the iPhone and Android appearance on the scene with open source development driving those applications.

However, mobile operators are only covering their costs with current revenue models and will need the new service offerings and pricing models to create additional revenues and ROI in the near future. Kevin, shares that tiered pricing is only one model of the total business spectrum service providers should be looking at to grow ROI. Cisco is committed to helping providers find other businesses and models to extrapolate the potential of future networks.

That being from a standpoint of B2B services in environmental, energy savings and monitoring services with which both businesses and consumers could reap much higher benefits from these kinds of services. Mobile data penetrations are nearing 50% and voice penetrations are already at 95% which brings further credence to understanding the need for service providers to differentiate mobile service offerings, including mobile data, to retain existing customers, grow their subscriber base, and increase their revenues.

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Len Grace is a technology industry veteran with over 18 years experience with Comcast Corporation. His insights into pertinent and relevant issues within the Broadband/Telecom/Cable/Wireless and Mobile sectors both inform and enlighten readers on current industry trends, analysis, business strategy, competitive landscape and legislative agendas. Len is the founder & editor of The Cable Pipeline, a technology blog who contributes to various technology websites including Light Reading, BroadbandBreakfast.com (Expert Opinion), SiliconAngle, Cisco Community: Service Provider Mobility, Amdocs: InTouch Community Portal, Bloomberg's bx Business Exchange, CircleID, and Sys-Con Media/Utilizer. Also see his reporting.

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Steve Lacoff: A New Standard for the ‘Cloudification’ of Communications Services

The cloudification of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing service.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Steve Lacoff, general manager of Avalara for communications

The line of demarcation between what has traditionally been considered a telecommunications service was once very clear. It was tangible – there were wires, end points, towers, switches, facilities. Essentially, there was infrastructure required to relay voice or data from point A to point B.

Today that line is fuzzy, if not invisible. The legacy infrastructure remains, but an industry of cloud-based services that don’t require the physical connections has exploded. Voice, data, SMS, and video conferencing can now be conveniently delivered OTT. Enabled by simple API integrations, businesses can embed just one of these services or a complete communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) into an app, service, or product.

Cloudification is a game changer

This “cloudification” of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing application, product, or service. These are essential components for many business models.

Consider these services we have come to rely on in our daily lives: food or grocery delivery, ride services, and business and personal communications. These require multiple methods of communication with shoppers, drivers, co-workers, watch party groups, and external business partners.

The exciting news is there is no end in sight. Use cases will continue to evolve and growth will continue to skyrocket. The scale cloud delivery accommodates is massive. These untethered, easy to embed communications services are a critical differentiator for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer buyers, and the lifeblood of the businesses providing both the end user subscriptions and the APIs.

In fact, one industry juggernaut saw H1 YoY video application service demand grow nearly 600% in 2020.

Not surprisingly, as business demand for these services increases smaller CPaaS players continue to enter the market to quickly snag market share. According to a recent IDC study, “the global market revenue for CPaaS reached $5.9bn in 2020, up from $4.26bn in 2019, and is expected to reach $17.71bn by 2024.”

Merger and acquisition activity is aligned with this hockey stick growth forecast. Large telcos, SaaS providers, and even other CPaaS providers are all on the hunt. Whether they want to add additional features to punch up their products or eliminate the competition in a very tight, nuanced market, the end game is clear – as the market expands, the players will ultimately contract leaving only the most competitive offerings.

Don’t let communications tax take you by surprise

One of the least understood risks when adding cloud-based voice, data, SMS, or video conferencing to an existing product or service is new eligibility for and exposure to the complex world of communications taxation. Making mistakes can get costly very quickly.

Here are some of the key pitfalls to keep an eye on:

  • Expanded nexus: Understanding communications tax nexus is different – and exceptionally more complicated – than sales tax. There are approximately 60,000 federal, state, local, and special taxing jurisdictions, each with uniquely complex rules that tend to change at their own pace. Rules are very different for each service.
  • More complex calculations: The more communications services you provide via API, the more complicated communications taxes will be. Each feature can be taxed at different rates in each individual jurisdiction, or the whole bundle can be taxed at one rate. It’s critical to monitor monthly to avoid audit issues.
  • Maintaining overall compliance: Just as tax rates and rules need to be maintained, so must tax and regulatory filing forms in each jurisdiction. Some of these are very long and require significant detail.  They must be filed in a timely, accurate cadence to avoid additional audit risk.

Bottom line: Don’t assume, be prepared! As these communications services become more pervasive a larger swath of technology providers will find themselves liable for communications tax. The more your business falls behind, the more it can cost you.

It pays to be proactive and prepared. Tax and legal advisory experts can help determine your level of risk, and tax and compliance software providers can help you keep up with changing rules and regulations. Don’t underestimate the ongoing value of networking with peers who are either struggling to answer the same questions or have already overcome the hurdles you’re facing today.

Steve Lacoff is General Manager of Avalara for Communications. With a focus on data, VoIP, and video streaming, Steve has spent 15 years in various product and marketing leadership roles in communications and technology industries, including Disney’s streaming services and Comcast technology solutions. Steve now drives business strategy on today’s changing industry landscape and associated tax impacts. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Jonathan Marashlian: The Legal Landscape Emerging for Robocalls Under the TRACED Act

The biggest risk is likely to come through enforcement actions by state attorneys general and civil litigation, says Marashlian.

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Jonathan Marashlian, Managing Partner of Marashlian & Donahue, LLC, The CommLaw Group, is the author of this Expert Opinion

Requirements for voice service providers emerging from the TRACED Act and the Federal Communications Commission orders that followed have changed the risks and threats to voice service providers.

Voice service providers have just passed some major milestones: Certifying SHAKEN and/or robocall mitigation in the FCC database and refusing calls from unregistered upstream providers. Does that mean it is time to kick back and relax?

Not at all. The legal landscape in the new STIR/SHAKEN era is much larger and more diverse than mere technical compliance with FCC requirements.

We are already seeing clear and unmistakable signs that compliance with the bare minimum requirements established by the FCC—implementing STIR/SHAKEN and robocall mitigation plan procedures—is insufficient to mitigate the myriad of business risks arising from the government onslaught against the scourge of illegal robocalling.

Reading the tea leaves, the biggest risk or threat is likely to come through enforcement actions by state attorneys general and civil litigation initiated by private parties. Wherever the legal landscape provides the opportunity to recover damages, class action plaintiff’s lawyers and attorneys for large enterprise consumers of voice services, such as call center operators, are certain to seize upon those opportunities.

‘Know your Customer’ rules come to the telecom industry

We anticipate that questions around the meaning of and extent to which the “Know Your Customer” requirements apply in different contexts will ultimately be answered through litigation and enforcement, and less so through the FCC regulatory rulemaking process. Questions around damages and who is or can be held responsible for originating, passing, or terminating illegal robocalls are also going to be fleshed out by regulatory enforcement and private litigation.

Perhaps the most significant risk, even more so than the FCC, are the federal and state consumer protection laws that are being developed around robocall mitigation. Starting with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where the FTC’s strict “known or should have known” standard is applied to hold voice service providers accountable for illegal robocallers using their networks.

Many service providers and telecom consultants pore over FCC regulations to try and understand the requirements. Is that sufficient? Are there other things they need to worry about?

FCC regulations are a good starting point and, telecommunications providers should stay abreast of updated regulations and releases. However, FCC regulatory compliance alone may not be enough to defend an action if provider’s face the FTC and state attorneys general’s “known or should have known” standard or the creative, evolving litigation strategy of the plaintiff’s bar.

Marriott filed a lawsuit in federal court against unknown perpetrators, “John Does,” who made illegal robocalls misusing Marriott’s name. Why would Marriott do that? What’s the point?

This is sheer speculation, but as often turns out, the actual perpetrators who harmed Marriott likely will be insolvent or outside the reach of Marriott. By using “John Does,” Marriott preserves its ability to amend its complaint to implead carriers and providers that carried or transported the fraudulent traffic.

Marriott could rely on the FTC’s “known or should have known” standard to show underlying carriers are the “John Does” that profited from bad actors (now insolvent or extra-judicial). It’s unlikely Marriott would commence this litigation without a strategy outside positive public relations for pursuing bad actions; rather, the “John Does” will likely turn out to be carriers of bad traffic who settle Marriott’s claims.

The Call Authentication Trust Anchor Working Group issued Caller ID Authentication Best Practices, which the FCC published and endorsed as voluntary measures. Then the Fourth Report and Order on Robocall Prevention mandated affirmative obligations to prevent service providers from originating robocalls. It seems like momentum is building toward holding service providers responsible for knowing their customers and the nature of their calls.

Based on recent trends, there is certainly momentum in that direction and Know Your Customer will likely continue to grow in importance. Thus, providers should ensure they have a good KYC policy in place, particularly as new risks emerge, and scrutiny grows. However, as discussed above, this appears largely driven by the FTC and state attorney general actions.

Of note, the Industry Traceback Group in July 2021 published a Policies and Procedures booklet with a best practices section. All voice service providers should review the booklet, and particularly the best practices. Accountability will keep mounting and the weakest link—the weakest KYC policy—will be the first to break, and that provider will be accountable and “holding the bag.”

Jonathan Marashlian is Managing Partner of Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group, a full-service telecom law firm located in the Washington, D.C., area catering to businesses operating in and around the dynamic and diverse communications and information technology industries. Their clients include providers of VoIP, wireless and traditional telecommunications services, SaaS-based and cloud computing technologists and Internet-of-Things application and network vendors. The CommLaw Group has formed a Robocall Mitigation Response Team to help clients achieve the level of compliance needed to avoid the emerging threats of litigation and regulatory enforcement. Jonathan S. Marashlian may be reached by email or by phone at 703-714-1313.

A prior version of this piece was published on October 6, 2021, on TransNexus. This lightly-edited Expert Opinion is reprinted with permission. Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Mike Harris: Investing in Open Access Fiber Optics is Investing in the Future

Chattanooga’s municipal broadband network has delivered $2.7 billion in social and economic benefits during its first decade.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Mike Harris, the co-founder of SiFi Networks.

In the United States, most Internet Service Providers are privately owned companies who have established copper network infrastructure exclusively for their own use, forcing customers into often unreliable, unsustainable internet package deals. But in 2010, the small city of Chattanooga, Tennessee invested in an early publicly owned fiber optic network.

As the co-founder of open-access telecom company SiFi Networks, I believe that investments in similar open-access infrastructure will help bridge community divides and futureproof a city’s economic and social prosperity.

According to a study by Bento Lobo, department head of finance and economics at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga’s municipal broadband has delivered over $2.69 billion worth of social and economic benefits during its first decade. With a population of just 185,000, imagine the potential savings for a city the size of New York.

So, how did Chattanooga achieve this and what were the city’s motivations?

Motives behind the madness

In 1969, Chattanooga was dubbed America’s dirtiest city. A post-industrial wasteland, it entered the late twentieth century with a stagnant economy, declining population and high levels of unemployment following the closure of its large manufacturing factories. It’s not surprising that decades later publicly owned utility company, EPB, chose to invest in its residents’ future.

EPB began replacing the underground copper wiring — originally established to exclusively handle telephone calls — with fiber optic cables feeding connectivity to the entire community. Fiber optic networks are vastly superior to copper because they can transport data using photons travelling at the speed of light. Previous infrastructure uses electrons capable of less than one per cent of that speed.

Where before Chattanooga was perceived as an underdeveloped, low-income area, suddenly businesses were moving in, employment was growing, and more adolescents were graduating from high school. Is it about time for other cities to follow suit?

Why other cities should follow suit

Internet connectivity is a human right much like water, electricity and gas utilities. Yet 21 million U.S. citizens are still living without reliable broadband according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Research also shows that 40 percent of schools and 60 percent of healthcare facilities outside metropolitan regions lack internet download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. This is the acceptable speed defining a reliable broadband connection.

As the Chattanooga model demonstrates, the solution is the establishment of fiber optic infrastructure. With fiber networks, EPB offers residents and businesses gigabit speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, or 1 Gigabit per second. In hindsight, with this capacity Hamilton County was well equipped to deal with the 75 percent increase in total volume of bandwidth being used per day during the pandemic, with residents being forced to work and educate from their homes.

These gigabit speeds also allow for a high degree of network responsiveness necessary for establishing a smart grid system. Most US cities use standard grid systems, which rely on consumers informing a service when they have a power outage or system failure.

Smart grids establish a two-way communication network using digital devices and automation so that service providers are notified immediately when problems occur. EPB’s Hamilton County smart grid, for example, can quickly re-route power around storm damage decreasing outages by 40 per cent in minutes, according to Lobo’s study. He estimates Chattanooga’s consumers will save $20.6 million per annum simply from avoiding spoilage and loss of productivity due to power outages.

Saving money, saving livelihoods

EPB has more than proven that fiber networks are a socioeconomic investment benefitting everyone, not just those lucky enough to live in a fiber area. Better, faster connectivity will enable businesses in all neighbourhoods to thrive, creating job opportunities. During the ‘gig decade’ (2011-2020), EPB’s fiber network directly supported the creation or retention of approximately 9,500 jobs in Hamilton County, luring the migration of global corporations like Volkswagen. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reflected this, stating Hamilton County’s unemployment rate being 4.7 percent as of November 2020, compared to the U.S. overall percentage of 6.7.

Chattanooga at night

The social benefits don’t stop here. A study by South Australia’s premier, Jay Weatherill, correlated gigabit networks with improved support for police and fire communications, wastewater management, traffic control and medical diagnostics. These are all features of SiFi Networks’ FiberCity and if Chattanooga has demonstrated anything, it is that fiber networks improve residents’ quality of living above all else.

FiberCity — the next step?

Chattanooga has demonstrated the importance of staying connected. To this end, becoming a SiFi Networks FiberCity could be the next step for cities across the US.

Privately financed networks, like SiFi Networks’, are often the best option to guarantee necessary funding for construction, maintenance and expansion of fiber infrastructure. Municipalities wouldn’t have to rely on taxpayer’s dollars, which can instead be diverted to healthcare, education and other social entities. During a period of continuous technological evolution, FiberCities have one simple mission: to combine advantages of Chattanooga’s gigabit speeds with futureproofed smart city services across the U.S.

Mike Harris is a successful entrepreneur and technologist, having previously founded Total Network Solutions Ltd in 1989, which he later sold to UK telecoms giant British Telecom in 2005. He subsequently co-founded SiFi Networks and is a current investor in the company. He is also the chairman and owner of the New Saints Football Club in Wales, UK. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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