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November 25, 2013updated 22 Sep 2016 2:03pm

Digiworld Summit 2013: Digital gold mines

CBR takes a trip to Montpellier to join IDATE in panning for riches. Did we strike gold?

By Ben Sullivan

This year’s Digiworld Summit, organised by IDATE and held in Montepellier, focused around the idea of ‘digital gold mines’.

Whereas last year, the think tanks were rallied around the theme of ‘game changers’ such as mobile cloud and Big Data, the idea of digital gold mines produced two days of conversations and presentations around smart connectivity, video as a service, digital malls, data monetisation and digital money.

After a boozy welcome party hosted in a grand opera hall thanks to Huawei, and a French qualification for the World Cup, the next morning’s introductory keynote and first plenary session came in surprisingly tight.

Smart connectivity was the initial topic, and the question was asked as to whether putting telecommunications forward as a promising source of value is seen as provocation, bearing in mind the crisis facing the sector in Europe. IDATE said that they believe whatever the evolution of the digital ecosystem, we will increasingly need flexible, very high speed access for both fixed and mobile systems.

A recent report by the analyst firm revealed that after a setback in 2009, the global telecoms market has been inching back to a more solid recovery since 2011, growing by a modest 2.7% in 2012.

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While this translates into a telecom services revenue of €1.1bn a year, analysts warned that this is a slower recovery than the economy as a whole, but IDATE CEO Yves Gassot denied it could mark the beginning of the end for the industry.

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He said: "The market is still growing in the US, despite the pessimistic outlook in Europe. However, telcos are not condemned to finish like the Polaroid camera, but they do have to reinvent their footprint and business models in the internet ecosystem."

Gassot added that telcos must focus on smart access, 4G and fibre to take advantage of smart connectivity.

Dor Skuler, VP of the CloudBand business unit for Alcatel-Lucent, admitted: "We’ve failed in ‘time to innovation’."

Speaking in relation to the use of cloud inside the network, he went on to say: "We were using ’90s methods in the 21st century."

Vivek Badrinath, deputy CEO of Orange, added: "We’re no longer perceived as access providers but augmented life providers. We have to be smart telcos, and we won’t invent the future alone, open innovation will bring a lot of value.

"The biggest change maker to us at the moment is mobile banking."

Badrinath said that Africa holds massive potential for this, and that increasing network coverage is the key to this expansion.

He finished by saying that telcos have "trust, expectation and reliability" but that has to be built on.

According to IDATE, the number of worldwide mobile customers should top the eight billion mark in 2017, with one billion internet users also coming in 2017.

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In regards to the idea of digital malls, we were treated to speakers such as Tristan Nitot from Mozilla, Vincent Martin from Dailymotion and Brendan O’Brien, the director of global marketing for Cisco.

The idea put forward was that the success of smartphones has also been that of the applications and the main suppliers’ own shops.

Could this model be reused but encompass the entire range of smart devices like connected TVs, smartphones and game consoles, especially as other players such as social media giants employ platform strategies capable of grouping offers and drawing in consumers?

Mozilla Europe’s founder Tristan Nitot had some interesting things to say, and made it apparent that they’re eager to keep pushing Firefox, in particular their Firefox OS handsets.

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Nitot went on to speak of Apple on one side, making fortunes with its mobile ecosystem and the App Store, with Google on the other generating millions from using personal data from its apps to sell to advertising.

"The data is oil," remarked Nitot, "but I don’t want these guys coming and drilling in my backyard." Nitot reiterated that it’s his oil, and says others should get off his land.

"But the developer no longer has a choice; the developer has no link with the end user. It’s very dangerous. Apple leaves no room for discussion. Why must we obey a company that decides what can or cannot install on my device.

"We want these web technologies to become open marketplaces like our emerging Firefox OS."

However, as Nitot went on to prove, no one is totally unshackled from Google or Apple domination. Remember that Mozilla is a non-profit company, and upkeep has to come from somewhere. Mozilla’s contract with Google is vital to ensure its financial survival, and Nitot said that their contract had once again been renewed with the search giant for another year.

Nitot did go a little quiet when talking about the concessions offered to Google for the renewal of that contract. "We have good relations with Google, they buy us traffic."

"If we do not renew the contract, there are alternatives, there is competition," he says.

In regards to monetising the digital marketplace for operators even more, the central question was summed up in two words: trust and transparency. Gregory Gazagne, European director for Criteo, speaking at the data monetisation plenary, said: "You do not build a business on the collection of data without being attentive to the balance between growth and protection of users."

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The Digiworld Summit 2013 was rounded up by most plenary sessions punching home the same message, that companies and operators are urged to take hold of rapidly upcoming technologies fast to be able to monetise them.

Telcos were urged to deploy fibre technology, 4G and 5G as effectively as possible.

"Some players are seeing their revenues erode and wondering where the value is," said Idate CEO Yves Gassot. "Others are questioning the digital ecosystem’s real contribution to growth. Yet the multifarious innovations surrounding the Internet and digital technologies are unearthing rich new veins ripe for mining."

In his speech, Dor Skuler, vice president and general manager of the CloudBand business unit at Alcatel-Lucent, also added that telecoms firms must embrace the cloud and learn from their OTT rivals. "We have given our lunch to the OTTs," he said, adding that the telecoms industry must rejuvenate and update its archaic solutions.

Dor Skuler urged telcos to "embrace the cloud as the best way to get back on track, since it can be highly scalable, fully automated, open source and inexpensive".

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Illustrations courtesy of Nicolas Loubet from Storify, who was live-sketching the event.

Other sessions at Digiworld focused on the future of Internet networks, and the tailoring of the future networks for the Internet of Things.

Eutelsat presented a white paper called ‘Advanced TV services for all, available now with Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV solutions.’

Published by Idate in collaboration with Eutelsat and Orange Group, the paper gives an overview of current trends towards hybrid network models that bundle broadcast TV reception with services available through the Internet.

The paper aims to underline how hybrid broadcast broadband TV unites the complementary assets of broadcast TV and broadband Internet, providing high quality linear TV and a best-in-class cost-efficient on-demand TV experience.

"This quick-to-market solution combines the efficiency of broadcasting for homogenous, live, quality TV available simultaneously to a large audience with the advantages of broadband networks for delivering individual choice of on-demand content," Eutelsat says.

Based on examples in key markets that include Korea (Olleh TV Skylife), the USA (DirecTV), France (a Fransat partnership with Samsung), Poland (Orange Polska) and the UK (Freesat), the paper explores how hybrid solutions are delivering a ‘high quality and enriched’ viewing experience.

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At a presentation that discussed the evolution of the Internet of Things, the conversation rotated around the emergence of apps tailored to the IoT and a proliferation of data pushing to rethink networking. IDATE says that developing intelligent networks will be the key to provide analytics on data. In a published report on the Internet of Things by IDATE, 15 billion things (machines, connected devices and objects) were connected to the Internet in 2012, up from 4 billion in 2010. According to Samuel Ropert, project leader of this report "In 2020, there will be 80 billion where IoO (Internet of Objects) will represent 85% of the total IoT, ahead of communicating devices with 11% and M2M (Machine to machine) with only 4%."

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An audience member posed a question the IoT roundtable as to what role startups will have in the explosion of IoT. In response, Jean-Pierre Temime, Director of technology and innovation at Orange France, said:

"I think that startups will play a very active role in making applications. Anybody, and any startups, will be able to make apps like people do today for Apple and Google.

"The floodgates will be opened."

 

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