The Next Big Thing

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You have to admit that you’ve got at least one thing in mind when going to an industry trade show. You want to find out what’s happening out there and what’s cool. You wonder: “What’s The Next Big Thing?”

The delegates attending this year’s Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in Amsterdam are no exception. Fittingly, so much of the change we see in our lives is driven by the convergence of information, telecommunication, and entertainment. It’s little wonder, then, that the BBWF show puts a spotlight on innovation, creation, and adaptations of technologies that collectively make “The Next Big Thing” happen.

We are seeing increased attention on Internet connections to, from, and around the home. On the application level, there is a big focus on smart home or digital home services enabled by interconnected and centrally managed devices, all through the Internet Protocol (IP): entertainment delivered to multi-screens; multi-rooms at the click of a button; smart home services for intelligent household monitoring/surveillance; and energy management. Service providers are increasing their pace to deploy home gateways as a central point into a home, interconnected with modems, set-top boxes, cameras, and sensors.

Of course, a paradigm shift doesn’t happen overnight. Even the technology uninitiated would tell you that Rome wasn’t built in a day. From platforms to tools, from applications to gadgets, it’s easy to see that the focus is on transforming concepts to real-world applications and how they can be practically delivered.

From a platform perspective, Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Network (SDN) are no longer just buzzwords. They are set in motion. An entire section of BBWF was dedicated to multi-vendor NFV POC Live, bringing efficiency and scalability concepts such as service orchestration and virtual CPE management through the cloud to life. Industry collaboration makes all this possible. Back-office OSS/BSS thus also needs to adapt in a NFV world, to enable service delivery from concept to consumers through a multitude of access architectures onto devices.

Service delivery and Quality of Experience (QoE) remain crucial as a customer roams from device to device, from network to network, and from one application to another. Big Data analytics allow the collection and correlation of that usage experience and enable service providers to continually make it better.

The “Next Big Thing” indeed may not be a gadget. It may well be the process that connects those gadgets. The “Next Big Thing” is about creating new services and service management. And that makes service provisioning and the ability to have fingers on the pulse from the network edge that much more critical. For those of us working in this very area of service provisioning and device management, this is an exciting time. Our role is no longer a discrete function focused on a single device of any type. We are challenged by our colleagues on the operators’ side to provide that holistic view user experience from the moment a service is created on demand for a particular subscriber, all the way down to changes as requested, and back to understanding how a subscriber actual experiences his or her services: video, voice data, WiFi, IPTV, etc.

Each of us is taking a small step, and it’s the cumulative progress that’s helping revolutionize our lives. That “great jump forward for mankind” moment is actually happening right in front of our eyes, albeit in slow motion.

Until next time.

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