The future of telecom

UpTop CEO John Sloat recently checked in with Kim Baker, Area Vice President-Global Accounts, CenturyLink Business Solutions Group, for his thoughts about the future of telecom.

The future of telecommunications: What do you see in your crystal ball?

I see further consolidation of players (providers) in the market over time, with the dominant players having a suite of applications that they provide access to – similar to the model of a video provider providing access to content but not owning the content themselves.

So, the players will provide access to voice, security, networking, applications, etc. It’s a model leading from the content portal out to the end user, with management all the way to the point of access: Phone, tablet (or any mobile device), PC, TV, etc.

What do you consider the three most impressive innovations in telecom in the past five years?

These don’t qualify as innovations, but the biggest shifts, from a momentum standpoint, have been:

  1. The broad adoption of Ethernet for service delivery.
  2. Virtualization. Services no longer rely on placement of hard-circuit electronics; they are now more flexibly controlled via software. This pushes the value envelope for providers across a wide range of content that users want.
  3. Video consumption. The broad consumption of video on intranets and the Internet is a significant shift. It also reasserts the power of providers that have eyeballs (i.e., consumers) over providers that just have access to content.

If you could wave a magic wand and make one change in the industry, what would it be?

Ubiquitous fiber optic deployment as the last-mile infrastructure in the US. That would give us the high-speed access we need today to support the communication needs of tomorrow, enabling innovation we have only begun to imagine.

What’s the one word that comes to mind to describe the telecommunications industry today? And of course, why?

Transformation. The rapid change in technology from mobile devices to cloud computing to software-defined networking and globalization of the economy makes for an interesting future that few will be able to predict.