2013 Predictions for Communications

Happy New Year! It’s Prediction time!

I hope everyone had a pleasant NYE. At the beginning of the year it’s fun to make predictions (well honestly it’s fun any time, but popular to do now). Therefore, I’ll be putting myself out there to see where these ideas lead. Here are three predictions for 2012:

The Rise of WebRTC

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) regularly holds meetings revising the standards we use to communicate on the Web. Everyone has to speak the same sorts of languages in order to have sites which can be read by modern browsers. Their latest revision, called HTML5, contains a piece of Technology called Web Real Time Communication, affectionately dubbed WebRTC by the masses. WebRTC has the power to bring real dramatic change to communication. Here’s how!

WebRTC lets two computers communicate via video or telephony using only a browser. But Wait! Don’t you already have Skype? Guess what! Skype is a program that’s downloaded on your computer and anyone who doesn’t have Skype can’t talk to you. That’s not like a phone at all! WebRTC is like a phone for your browser. You don’t have to install anything beyond FireFox and Chrome and anyone can be reached as long as they’re online. Ubiquitous communications require ubiquitous technology, and WebRTC solves that hurdle. My prediction is for much more development of this Technology and proliferation throughout the Telecom world. Look for the first Video WebRTC Clients to start hitting soon, if not already, and the first carrier grade WebRTC clients by the end of the year.

The Cloud Meets Telecom

2013 is the year that the cloud meets Telecom. Sandy in 2012 showed the impact that single datacenter hosting has on Telecom and the associated downtime is simply unacceptable. This is the year where on-demand and spot instances really become part of the Telco lexicon. Let’s face it, there’s tremendous pressure on legacy systems coming from the upstarts. RingCentral, which, to my mind, isn’t really a cloud, is putting a ton of pressure on the traditional service providers by running a lean, focused business. Add operational efficiencies gained from IaaS like AWS and you could have a carrier that could beat RingCentral (which is the gold standard in the US today).

Put simply, to win today you need to be both operationally and strategically lean. Using a big iron server in a datacenter somewhere isn’t going to save you during a hurricane. What will save you is hosting small servers in multiple datacenters all over the place; and, strangely enough, it will save you money too. Look for proliferation of Cloud Infrastructures in Telecom. More carriers will seek to move their hardware away from Private Colos and into IaaS like AWS.

Contraction

This will be another acquisition-heavy year for Telecom. I know of multiple carriers looking for matches right now and many of them are large. Someone is setting up to compete with AT&T and Verizon, and my money is on CenturyLink. There are plenty of small carriers to be gobbled up and this matriculation will be helpful for Telecom overall.  In addition, there are many large fiber providers that look to be good acquisition targets for Zayo Group, the ultra-leveraged Fiber company. I think level3 will be pretty quiet in 2013 as they get their financial house in order, but I’d expect to see additional acquisitions from AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and MAYBE Telepacific. Time will tell. My prediction is that there will be at least two 100M+ telecom acquisitions this year.

Bonus: Startup Prediction

There will be a breakthrough Health startup this year, but there will also be a telecom startup with a lot of success. Last years big story was UberConference, and maybe Plivo, depending on who you talk to. UberConference was the followup smash from the folks who did GrandCentral (Now GoogleVoice) and Plivo is an API-based communications company not unlike Twilio. My prediction is that something a little bigger is coming in 2013, and I’m not talking about SDN which had a bunch of smash hits in 2012. No my friends, something is coming, and it’s going to be awesome.

So there we have it, WebRTC, More Cloud Adoptions, Some big money acquisitions and an awesome big story startup in Telecom+Health for 2013. Check back with me in December and we’ll see if I’m right ;) .

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