First Impressions at Broadband World Forum

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First times are always fun. Mixed with the expectations and unknowns, there is no experience as exhilarating as having the chance to learn something new – which is, I guess, one of the reasons why I have always been drawn to technology and engineering in general.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam for the first time, while also attending the Broadband World Forum for the first time. Being that this is one of the biggest telecommunications events in the world, I was not in a bad spot.

From the moment you arrive in Amsterdam, you can see applied engineering and its effects on how the city’s residents and visitors flow. This is true in their canal system (dating back to 17th century), intrinsic 400 km cycling network, advanced trains, and subway tracks. Efficiency and ease were thoughts that came to mind, and one can see how well our hosts are doing in getting people from point A to B as fast and conveniently as possible. But one can also easily note their respect and pride in their culture and past, which are happily maintained and cultivated in their traditional clothes, cheeses, arts, and much more. And it is hard not to correlate those qualities with the telecommunications arena.

No matter where you are or what size of the screen you are interfacing with, people want to reach information and interact with it at a faster rate than ever before. And it’s not stopping there. It seems like each day, I learn about a new service or tool available to assist a specific use case, leveraging the Internet, cloud, and all the array of acronyms that come with it. Social networking, social media, shopping, travelling, traditional utilities companies, and service providers, including government agencies, are building web portals and apps, which is driving the demand for faster speeds on data and Internet access.

The Broadband World Forum focuses on the telecommunications providers, their products, technologies, and needs, and it was clear to me that MSOs, telcos, and service providers are ahead of their games and already planning for what’s next. The themes for this year’s BBWF were: Network Innovation, Service Optimization and Consumer Monetization.

In between demos and discussions around solutions and projects, I had the opportunity to walk the floor and see what was going on. Here are a few interesting things to report:

  • A whole section was dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) and automated home gadgets, which means more and more packages and services around this might be coming to us directly from your provider soon. What would we be calling that? Penta-play, anyone?
  • G.fast is approaching with a vengeance, and had a strong presence at the show. It’s ready to compete in terms of speed with DOCSIS, and with FTTx in terms of costs.
  • On the monetization side of things, Big Data and analytics were also common topics of discussions, including at our own booth.
  • Also, Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and its broadband access natural extensions, Software-Defined Access Network, were hard to miss, being hailed and pushed by many exhibitors for their flexibility while optimizing networks, streamlining operations, and bringing back the creativity into network design and planning by removing most of their physical barriers. 

London is where the next BBWF will be hosted. As a techie, while always looking ahead, one needs to also be cognizant of the past and how things evolved into where they are today. We can use this knowledge to help innovate the industry and keep it moving rapidly. I am sure that Amsterdam will be missed by many. It has certainly made an impact on me, and is one place I would like to visit again. Until then, I will keep the memories of the city and BBWF 2014 at the top of my mind at home in Canada.

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