Friday, September 22, 2006

The Hague Telecom Day 2006 (2)

Malcolm Matson, the former CEO of COLT Telecom, kicked off the meeting as a representative of the foundation Open Public Local Access Network (OPLAN). It looks like he got thinking after his Colt time by founding the foundation with the object to advance the education of the public about all aspects relating to digital technologies and their social and economic benefits particularly as deployed in open public local access networks (OPLANs). The title of his speech was one of the classics these days: The end to traditional telecoms. (Where did I hear this before; just give me any area and you have such a title: the end to traditional publishing and the end to traditional broadcast). Behind this worn title, however, was a vision on telecom and society.

He did not mince many words about the traditional telecom business model. This was a vertically integrated business model, which does not work in the MSN and Skype world any longer. Malcolm Matson gave the audience a kind of creed. Traditional telecom is facing disruptive and abundant digital technologies. This brings another economy about in which local economies will prosper and cities, citizens and societies will benefit. But also the human spirit and relationships will thrive through them as people are in a constant conversation with themselves. This will eventually lead to improved investment risk/return from funding them. His full presentation of 72 sheets is available.

Pursuing the theme of OPLANs was Esmee de Guzman Vos of Muniwireless. The tiny fragile lady is an expert on municipal wireless cities. On September 10th, she released her report on the US wireless cities and concluded that there were 60 operational networks funded on a public/municipal base, 35 municipal use only networks, 135 planned networks and 25 areas under consideration. Esmee went into the financing structure and the deployment structure. Financing has three models: public, municipal, public and municipal funding. Deployment can range from free networks to public/closed networks and networks for municipal use only. In the Netherlands public wireless networks started in Leiden and its surrounding towns and villages such as Jacobswoude. So far wireless networks are not a craze and even in Amsterdam there is not a public or municipal network, even not in the central station and/or museum area.

It is interesting to see that telecom is changing fast now. In 1980 the early adaptors of new media were all using the example that a local computer call from Amsterdam to Rotterdam could go through New York. Now it is all happening (see her presentation). In fact new applications have overtaken voice traffic in the Netherlands since February 2005. So far this has lead to the rise of telecom companies and the competition among these companies. But in the coming years the constant conversation should break the commercial harness and benefit cities, citizens and societies.

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Blog Posting Number: 516

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