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My take on Jeff Pulver's predictions

Jeff Pulver is out with his annual predictions for the IP Communications Industry. And here I am with my reax.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

Jeff Pulver is out with his annual predictions for the IP Communications Industry. And here I am with my reax.

Jeff's comments are intended. Mine are outdented.

1) Broadband penetration will continue to snowball in the US, but not at a pace fast enough to raise America's mediocre global standing in broadband penetration. We, however, begin to appreciate the benefits of Metcalf's Law, as broadband penetration snowballs and opens the door for an unprecedented surge in creativity and uptake of new Internet applications.

Agree that we will still lag on penetration, but as usual, developers will create broadband apps that outstrip ease-of-view and ease-of-use for many. Reasons? Ain't much money in developing apps for yesterday's dial-up technology. Plus, developers want to gee-whiz their bosses, and each other.

2) Lobbyists and Policymakers in the US will continue to try to apply legacy rules and regulations on Internet based applications, be it voice, television or radio.

 Yes, sadly. Lobbyists are protecting their broadband cable and telco employers, who want to control the pace of innovation to cover their tails and raise the barrier to entry to competitors.

3) In the US, the remaining "Baby Bells" will grow up and hold a virtual "family reunion" of sorts, which will, in effect, establish "Walled Gardens" in their collective broadband product offerings. Expect other incumbent operators around the world to join this implicit cartel. In parallel, Wireless Operators worldwide will continue to roll out their 3G strategies and grow their own Walled Gardens, leaving both academics and the Internet pioneers wondering "what ever happened to the dream of the Arpanet?"

Yes, very sadly. Bums me out, but we are headed toward a broadband oligopoly.

4) The FCC will attempt to extend its definition of indecency laws to the Internet, Cable and Satellite networks.

Well, 2006 is an election year. Prohibiting or limiting bare breasts and F-bombs on Showtime and HBO helps "moral values."

5) (a) As filmmakers start to feel comfortable with the concept of going "direct to the Net", 2006 will be the year when this starts to become the norm, rather than the exception.

 I think that this is true for B-grade flicks that can't get theatrical distribution, as well as for intellectual art movies confined to houses in sophisticated cities. But I don't agree that this will be the norm, though.


(b) Look for "Television" shows to premiere first on the Internet and then appear on Broadcast TV, Cable or Satellite.

 Maybe not just on the Internet but on iPods. And don't be surprised if you see the Internet used for focus group testing of prospective series.

(c) Look for more TV shows to be become downloadable forviewing on personal communication devices.


Of course. We're seeing it now. There seems to be a business model emerging- one that is satisfactory to networks, programmers, and distributors. And in that model, people get paid.

6) VoIP peering will continue to happen between carriers, but the business models driving peering will not be worked out until 2007 or beyond. Look for Enterprises to explore the benefits of federating their communication networks.

 A great idea that ought to happen.

7) There will be at least two major acquisitions in the billion-dollar-plus price range, matching or exceeding eBay's purchase price to acquire Skype. Major media and Internet companies will announce blended, transformational IP-based communications plays.

Well, at least one. Vonage might sell itself, although an IPO looks more likely at this point.

8) Hurricanes such as Katrina and other natural disasters in the U.S. and around the world will compel the U.S. and other governments to look to the Internet and IP-based communications as the vehicle to improve emergency response and post-catastrophe communications.

This ought to happen, but I have to tell you, the Federal Government's procurement process is so hidebound, RFP, procedure-driven, that I don't look for progress toward IP communications as incremental.

9) The Internet application providers, such as Google, yahoo!, eBay, Amazon will increase their presence and influence in DC and on communications policy.

 They are already.

10) The sides in the communications policy wars will become more apparent, with Internet Access Providers on the one side and Internet Application Providers on the other.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'- Bob Dylan

11) Governments around the world will look harder at VoIP regulation, with an eye towards imposing social obligations such as emergency response, lawful intercept and disabilities access. We will see a deepening divide between those countries that nurture the emerging industry and technology and those that stifle innovation by imposition of unnecessary, overly-broad and economically-debilitating one-size-fits-all regulation.

 I fear the U.S. may pursue the latter course.

12) Look for the support of "voice" to become part of the eCommerce strategy for many Websites.

I've been saying this all along. Another reason for a company such as Net2Phone to be acquired by News Corp. as a "call me" facilitator for MySpace.com, or by Amazon for a talk-to-seller appy.

13) Wireless will continue to replace wireline at a faster pace and may also continue to outpace the growth of consumer voice over broadband services sold to consumers.

It is. That's because wireless is not just about mobile conversation. It is about extending your reachability, your footprint so that location and distance is irrelevant.

14) ENUM continues to happen around the world and the US will still lag behind.

ENUM (Electronic NUMbering) is essential for the efficient routing of VoIP services. This really needs to happen. Yet like so many other related technologies, ENUM is not widely understood. I hope the ENUM Forum goes forth with missionary zeal in both the policy and technical arena, and not too many befuddling equations that muddle the importance of ENUM.

15) The RIM (Research in Motion) patent challenge will become a boon for integrated IP Communication enabled devices.

As a BlackBerry blogger, I do have to admit Jeff is spot on. Eventually we are going to see one robust device that combines VoIP, WiFi, standard voice, robust data, rich email,always-on applications (such as machine-to-machine medical monitoring, games, camera and GPS. But for this to happen, we have to get better at device-centered design, GUI, and - most important of all - power management.

A device without power is a paperweight.

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