Creative Capillary Connectivity

© Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved

Short-range radios today play an essential role in connecting smaller devices to our mobile phones. We can expect a lot of new applications leveraging the Bluetooth Low Energy and Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Network standard (IEEE 802.15.4) with connectivity through a smartphone or wireless access point – also known as a capillary network. This concept is emerging to address the unique network needs that many new applications will have.

The obvious driver for introducing short-range radio is battery life and the need to avoid cabling. Many emerging devices, such as sensors, cannot be charged as frequently as smart smartphones and need to be run using a zero-maintenance model (e.g. deploy and forget). The ability to introduce a wireless device with no or low-charging needs enables a whole range of new industrial and consumer applications, like sensors (temperature, humidity and pollution), alarm generators (windows, fire) and smart control and consumption (gas, water, electricity).

This new application paradigm will be cloud based, with devices running close to the customer while the back end will run in the cloud. Capillary network connectivity provides an end-to-end connection between the device and the cloud. This connectivity bridges the short-haul private area network with fixed or wireless access, metro transport, and the cloud. As the primary target is commercial applications, the value of capillary connectivity will be application dependent with little correlation to the amount of bits used.

As part of the zero-provision paradigm, the applicable devices will rely on automatic discovery, directory and provision mechanisms provided by the network and the cloud. A key part of the capillary network concept is automated provisioning end-to-end. These connections also need to provide the right security levels for the application at hand. This can be achieved by leveraging existing security mechanisms in mobile networks.

My predictions for the future of capillary networks are:
• Devices connected through smartphones or access points with low-power radio is a rapidly growing network application area
• The ability to provide end-to-end support, to devices with mobile-like capabilities through capillary networks, is crucial for broad industry acceptance.
• Zero maintenance is a vital requirement for both the powering and provisioning operations of these new devices.
• Operators can introduce new revenue generating capillary connectivity services tailored to application needs.

Powerful performance play provide profits

Powerful performance play 16x9

Making real performance improvements in the network is an ever-more-important issue on operators’ agendas. This is being driven by three strong trends in the market: word-of-mouth marketing, the growing importance of Net Promoter Score and user selection criteria for mobile services. As a result, we are entering an era with clearer correlations between real performance and profit margins, one in which you don’t want to be left behind.

Wharton@Work recently presented a study that showed that 84 percent of consumers trust advice they get from friends and family. This is just one example of how word of mouth in marketing has never been more important – a reality that any network provider must consider. This trend is driving the current focus on Net Promoter Score as the most important KPI for network operators, with network performance also the most important user criteria for staying with or leaving a given network provider.

With this in mind, it is time to consider alternative views on the value of real performance in the network – one in which profits can be derived from how you and I talk about the performance of our operators’ networks.

A new study, “The value of performance”, conducted in collaboration with Columbia University has analyzed the correlation between increased investments in network performance and enhanced profits. One of the key observations in the study is the correlation between increased capacity and market share gains. A one kbps increase in downlink speed resulted in 0.012 higher market share the following quarter. Another way of looking at this opportunity is to see what a 10 percent yearly increase in capex would generate in terms of increased profit margins. In both the US and Brazil, a 10 percent increase in capex has been found to deliver 5 percent higher revenues and a greater than six percent increase in EBIDTA.

With a future around the corner in which video barrels are going to replace data buckets as the user reference for how well networks meet their needs, we have a new scenario in the market. 50 percent of mobile traffic will be video in 2019, and 40 percent of YouTube views are mobile already today. Therefore, investments over the next three years in network performance are central to growing market share and profits. There were doubts about the mobile broadband business case in 2006, and the market adoption of smartphones then took us with storm. There might be doubts about the business case for investing in network performance in 2014, but it will be a risky decision to bet against it.

My predictions for the future of a performance- and profit-correlated future are:
• Network performance will continue to be the number one selection criteria for users, and will only grow in importance.
• Network performance will only grow in importance, driven by video-, VoLTE-, mobile enterprise and M2M-driven applications.
• The most valuable conversations about network performance will take between you, your friends and your family. Performance is and will be an easy topic to discuss as a personal experience.
• Network investments focused on performance will pay off and will be central to operator strategies.

2X @20% @20% 2020

© Peter Linder 2014 – All Rights Reserved
© Peter Linder 2014 – All Rights Reserved

The first 20 years of mobile and internet evolution was characterized by innovating for users, but this ‘smartphonification’ is rapidly approaching saturation in developed markets. However, the current growth wave is different. It is being driven by a mobile and cloud-centric evolution in which the pace of innovation is accelerating with businesses in focus. The question now is: how large can this transformation be?

The first five billion mobile users and their primary devices have been driving a significant market. The emerging mobile-cloud revolution has the potential to unlock even greater business values as enterprises transform to smart enterprises on top of the smartphone wave. So how much value might the next 45 billion devices be expected to generate? My hypothesis is that the new devices on average can generate 1/10th of the monthly revenues generated by a smartphone. Such a scenario mean network revenues could double in a mobile and cloud-centric business world by taking advantage of extended network capabilities to support the new devices?

With the adoption of new network architectures we will see a significant reduction of elements in the networks as we move towards optimized, virtualized and software-defined networks. Considering the fast pace of evolution in computing and storage technologies, it is possible to envision a scenario where a future network can be run with 20 percent of the network elements deployed today. The net result of this is that powerful programmable platforms are coming in, and legacy network elements are being retired.

The massive growth in connected devices, connectivity types and new business models call for a very high degree of automation of network operation procedures. This affects all steps including configuration, provisioning, monitoring and charging and billing. In addition, businesses expect the network to be agile, with the ability to serve their changing needs with on-demand service delivery capabilities. Imagine if it was possible to run the network with a significantly lower staff, say 20 percent of current levels – and require a much different skill set from employees.

A vital industry question is how fast this transformation will go? The smartphone wave and the very fast ramp up that came with it was a surprise to many network operators. Given the very strong momentum among industries in adopting mobile-first strategies for transforming their operations, fast and large-scale adoption for the mobile and cloud-centric wave is also likely to be very strong.

Imagine if already by 2020, the new network and new operational models can be fully deployed by operators. In addition, legacy networks would need to be phased-out gradually and a reality by 2020. Businesses could be fully mobilized and leveraging the mobile and cloud-centric advancements with the network playing a key role in the middle.

Here are my predictions regarding the size of these transformative forces:

* Potential revenue growth is tied to both customization of network services and business model innovation, in order to secure that value is both created and captured.
* The possible reductions in network elements and staff are tightly coupled to the ability to phase out the old in addition to building new. Expect the sunset of legacy networks to be harder than the sunrise of the new.

DOTs Define Desired Data Destiny

© Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved
© Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved

Mobile and cloud are driving network evolution, in public as well as enterprise networks, and access networks are becoming advanced hybrids between fixed and wireless access, with the latter shaping the overall development.This is a rapid acceleration, but the speed of change in telecom and ICT is being matched in Formula 1 auto racing, where engine development has taken huge leaps in rough conjunction with mobile advances. So what can we learn from the evolution of Formula 1 engines when predicting the future of mobile enterprise access?

At business premises, fixed Ethernet LAN was long the only option to connect data services to desktops and laptops. The technology evolution during this time was powerful, with speeds going from 10Mpbs through Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet. This era coincided with a time when F1 cars were powered by 3.0 liter V10 engines, between 1996 and 2005.

As laptop adoption grew and business data usage became more nomadic, Wi-Fi was introduced as a complement to the Ethernet LAN, and network design for business Wi-Fi was soon replaced by a low effort design model, in which Access Points (APs) were simply deployed in a few strategic locations. Mobility was introduced as a value-added complement, but the lion’s share of all network capacity remained in the fixed LAN.

Meanwhile, in F1, the power train shifted during this period to a smaller 2.4 liter V8 engine with an electric power unit capable of delivering 80 extra horsepower during braking.

Today businesses are in the beginning of an implementation cycle in which mobility and cloud are driving the local network needs. Next generation Wi-Fi and LTE small cells are emerging as the primary access technologies, with the role of the Ethernet changing into feeding access points and securing adequate capacity for local as well as cloud-based services.

In F1, the same kind of step happened when F1 engines moved to a 1.6 liter V6 engine with a 10x more powerful electrical power unit that could deliver 160hp for 30 seconds.

But now racecars are making even a greater leap, as Formula E, a circuit of pure electrical racecars, will be introduced later in 2014. So, in that spirit, why can’t we move to a pure mobile enterprise network and skip the LAN altogether?

We can’t yet, and the answer is about maximizing performance. Even with a 200kg battery, a Formula E car can only run for 25 minutes. A pure mobile enterprise would have similar limitations.

My predictions for the future of mobile enterprises are:
• Mobile and cloud represent strategic inflections that are redefining enterprise networks (see my previous post on wireless business environment)
• Ethernet and classic WiFi are table stakes, and the differentiation will come from LTE small cells and next generation WiFi (read this post on small cell deployments).
• Enterprise networks will remain hybrids between fixed and mobile access for the foreseeable future.
• The enterprise application environment will remain a hybrid between on-premise and cloud-based applications for the foreseeable future.

Ring Revolution Reduce Reactions

©Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved
©Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved

Networked rings represent a new type of technology wearable, emerging as part of the smartphone ecosystem. At Fashion Week 2014 in New York City, Ringblingzintroduced their first ring connected to a smartphone. So what role do we see fashion accessories such as rings playing in the Networked Society?

As I outlined in my blog post on networked watches, most wearables that are connected to a smartphone and are accompanied by an app. A networked ring is a smaller notification device than the phone-watch combination and further exploits the technology miniaturization potential. The screen size takes us back to the early mobile phone days, when 20 characters were visible to the user. Vibration is a vital trigger for the user and short range radios connect the ring to your phone.

These first networked rings are targeting younger user segments. The design of the ring is a key buying criteria since it is as much a fashion statement as it is a communication device. Networked rings belong to one of the 4-5 wearable tech product categories (together with watches, activity bracelets, health monitors and life-logs) with mass market potential.

The primary applications for networked rings are social media notifications and lifestyle trackers. The differentiation in relation to watches and bracelets will be its small size and stylish look. Aggregating data from a variety of sources and screening out the most relevant is an attractive tool for reducing information overload. New smartphone generations, with larger screens, can remain the pocket or purse for basic information tracking.

My predictions for the near-term future of wearable tech are:

* All wearables will be designed as slaves to smartphones, with short haul radio, dedicated smartphone apps and motion sensors as basic ingredients.
* Wearable design will continue to grow in importance and rings are born into a fashion category from start.
* 1-2 wearable devices will gain mass market appeal in 2014, opening up for a breakthrough for networked rings.
* Use will be reactive and triggered by light buzzes, prior to watching the micro screen.

Trucks Trusted To Transport Towards Tough Timelines

66 Trucks trusted to transport towards tough timelines

The consumption of goods, especially in cities, is making urban transport more complex. This is being driven by shorter cycles for seasonal goods, growth in web-based shopping, and higher expectations on short delivery times. Mailboxes serve fewer and fewer letters. Post-offices are closing down and trucks seem to be the worst urban parking violators around.

Transport needs are shifting as internet shopping grows and businesses delivery needs become more and more complex. We now order our weekly groceries online and have them delivered to our door. We pick up parcels at a variety of locations in our neighborhood, depending on the shipping company or the type of goods. The cycles for seasonal goods are getting shorter too as urban retailers push to have as little stock as possible due to expensive floor-space.

Allowing for high-accuracy tracking through networked packages opens up for a number of benefits. Delivery expectations can be set to very specific timing windows. Delivery addresses can be changed en-route without manual intervention. Urban businesses can reduce the inefficiencies from excess waiting times for goods and spare parts. If we know exactly where the package is, we can also make more efficient delivery decisions.

A greater variety of distribution points in cities will lead to smaller vehicles for intracity delivery. The modern postal vehicle is too small and was optimized for the delivery of letters and small packages. They also occupy too much space wherever they stop. Networked vehicles tightly coupled to re-loading centers outside urban centers and package distribution points represent a vital development area.

Here are my predictions for the future of networked goods delivery:
* Real-time tracking capabilities will emerge for e-commerce goods scheduled for urban delivery
* Intelligent delivery points will support flexible pick-up since the best location can vary from order to delivery
* Smaller connected trucks provide a link between packages and the overall tracking system.