Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

Telco 2.0 Meets Web 2.0: Network Mashups

There’s a great report posted on called “Telco Web 2.0 Mashups: A New Blueprint for Service Creation.” There are some pretty choice pull-quotes from this paper.

“As Microsoft has long maintained, if an operator wants to play in a world of composite services, it will need to expose its capabilities at a much higher level than SIP or Palay X, so that they are easily accessible to developers with no telecom-specific knowledge.”

“The emergence of Web 2.0 concepts – not IMS – is fast becoming the single most powerful reason why operators need to change their service creation practices and tooling to become more like IT/Internet companies at a service level.”

“IMS is not, on its own, enough to enable an operator to deliver a rich se of revenue-generating services to the market.”

“Operators should be urging their next-generation application suppliers to get with the Web 2.0 message, too: asking them to open up their black boxes and make both core and value-added functions reusable and mashables, so that the telco industry as a whole can increase the rate of service creation and beat the Internet companies at their own game.”


“Over the past two years, Microsoft’s vision of composite services has been moving closer to the service creation approaches emerging in the Internet world.”


During several recent events, I have had the opportunity to talk with customers in a panel-style discussion about Web 2.0 and the impact on the service providers.

When I ask a blogger (or someone who regularly reads blogs) “what is Web 2.0”, I hear answers like “social networking”, “collaboration”, “user at the center”, “control at the edge”. When I ask for examples of Web 2.0, invariably I hear more about mashups of sites like Flickr, Google Earth, and Virtual Earth than I do about individual sites themselves.

When I ask someone in a telco what is Web 2.0, I get a very different take. Within 5 minutes, I typically hear something about IMS and network monetization (and if someone doesn’t offer it, I try to force the point… it’s good to be the moderator in a panel discussion). What I don’t typically hear is efforts to take Telco 2.0 out to the user through services that can be mashed up.

Look at projects like AT&T’s Lightspeed or Verizon’s VCast, and I see a huge opportunity for mashups. Wouldn’t it be cool if video-on-demand services could be mashed up? I come up with a cool Popfly idea that will use Live calendar services to invite my friends over for a Saturday afternoon of Georgia Bulldogs football, limiting to those Saturdays where the games are televised in my area. How about allowing me to mashup caller ID data to figure out based on NPA and NXX what approximate area someone is calling from and put that on a Virtual Earth map?

As I look at the work did at the MIX conference using Silverlight in mobile devices and what did with Silverlight in the browser, I cannot help but think of the sudden realization that some of the cable and telco providers must be having. If Silverlight can provide HD video over the web, and I can get an insanely rich experience through the browser and on the mobile device, do we need to rethink the impact of Web 2.0 on Telco 2.0? Do we need to rethink the race for voice, video, and data? The landscape used to just include telcos, cable providers, and the threat of VOIP… now the content producers have a stake in the game as well. A great quote at about the real impact of Silverlight:

“Video over the Internet can now rival the quality of video you have delivered to your TV.”

Yeah, yeah, the buzz for developers is all about RIAs and the DLR. But the real impact for the business is that the quality of video is now comparable to TV (even better than over-the-air TV and non-HD signals), not just the grainy low-res “good enough” video we see on YouTube.

There’s a huge opportunity for the telcos here. They have the network, they have the infrastructure, they have the services. Figure out how to take those services to the edge like BT is doing, and you have a recipe for beating the Web 2.0 game. Work with the broadcasters to deliver the content through the largest network, monetize through additional services, subscriptions, and licensing for commercial mashups, even inject an ad-based model into the play-out stream, and you have a recipe for moving past IMS and into the hearts and minds of the end user.

Instead of simply charging for bandwidth, telcos have a real opportunity to provide innovative services to the edge and change the telecommunications landscape, to take charge and win back the user.

Come to the Denver Web Experience Event this Friday to hear more about this concept. Oh yeah, there’s still time left to win an XBox simply by blogging about the Web Experience Event in Denver (no attendance necessary, just looking for some link love).