IDC Forum: Adapt or die

IDC tells telcos to jump on the Internet bandwagon and converge

Adapt or die was the overwhelming message to European telcos at the first day of analyst firm IDC's European Telecoms Forum in Venice on Monday, repeating very much the tone of last year's event.

Since voice and data converge and Internet protocol has made voice calls over the Net a reality, the position of traditional telcos looks increasingly difficult, according to IDC's speakers. European incumbents are coming under heavy criticism from governments, consumers and businesses for their failure in keeping up with the pace of change of the new Internet economy.

Speaker after speaker urged European operators to jump aboard the Internet bandwagon and take up their roles in the convergence of voice and data, Internet and broadcasting by acting in an appropriate and responsible manner. As one speaker put it, "either they do, or they die."

According to Brian Keating, vice president of broadband services at network provider Newbridge, BT (quote: BT) and its European equivalents are losing up to 10,000 customers a week, and he urged telcos to "turn their copper into gold" or lose out to cable and satellite operators. Using Kingston, the Hull-based telco that is currently rolling video-on-demand, e-commerce and Net connectivity via ADSL, as an example of how forward-thinking telcos can make their copper profitable, Keating said: "Kingston is an incumbent carrier harnessing the broadband revolution. All the incumbents can do it."

All speakers agreed that the telecommunication landscape is about to change. "There is no longer a telecoms industry, just high-speed data network applications," claimed the chief executive of online content provider Madge.web, Robert Madge. "The market will be divided into telcos that grab that nettle and become application providers and those that don't."

Ajit Pendse, chief executive of eFusion, summed up the opinion of many, accusing traditional telcos of being too slow to take up the challenge of e-commerce. "Telco lethargy is out of synch with Internet velocity," he said.

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