Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

The Telecom Innovation Vs. The Internet Revolution

Posted on: August 28, 2007

“This is going to be such an unfair post”, I am thinking to myself as I mentally jot down all the points that the Internet and the Telecom world do share, differ from and the trails of path that they’ve left behind behind. They are contrastingly different in their methods, approach, deployment methodologies, strategies and existence, that a comparison just seems unfair. But perhaps there are things to learn from.

I am a telecom guy (compared to a web 2.0 guy). I say that as if its almost a personality type. I do love to push the limits of communications and enable the masses, but not unless reliability can be assured, security is on the design framework, and everytime i pick up the phone I can hear the dialtone greeting. That’s a heck of a rate of reliability.

The Telecom world has been a very closed one. The way the standards are defined, maintained, modified and revised are all very structured. There do exist standards bodies which do fight out which ones to stand and why. In the end, it always seems that the best and better one survives – or maybe we just dont ever get to know of the other options. In any case it has worked out so well so far.

On the other hand, there lies the web. The vast ocean of devices, all with radically different specifications, protocols, and applications that are geared to achieve very different purposes. The network is plain simply dumb and all the intelligence lies on the end nodes, which act as either servers or clients – depending on what it runs and what it is broadcasting.

Most people would say that the telecom world hasnt evolved fast enough. I am not sure if I would agree. From the landline phones, to the Cellular world, where there are enough variations in protocols and standards, along with the measures which provide reliability which can deliver stunningly amazing performances of any web service or application that one might need. Caller IDs, Voice Mails, Ringtones, Short Messaging, Automatic Call Distributions and the complex world of Agents, Presence, all are great instances of killer applications that the telecom world has produced.

Let me stop here and ask one question. Tell me one application in the Web world that has outlived its lifespan and continues to live? I am not sure about you, but I can’t think of any. Not even one. Even Skype seems to be dying away.

I am even more confused at the way standards are defined, and application deployment practices are managed in the web world. AJAX, and the gazillion variations of web technologies and other platform specific languages and tools, no one knows how they get along, and there is no way to enforce or even suggest the right way of implementing a specific functionality. It’s ruled by sheer chaos, and sometimes its almost a miracle that the net still continues to stand on its feet.

With all the openness of the web, with all the creativity that could be birthed, what has the web accomplished? Apart from Emails, of course.

4 Responses to "The Telecom Innovation Vs. The Internet Revolution"

that is a very interesting thought and a highly debatable one!

I remember reading somewhere that ‘world is shrinking because of web’ and I feel it is very true. there is no geograpbic boundaries in web… and a person sitting next to me is virtually at the same distance as a person sitting in another part of the world. and in the web world, I have the same power if I am sitting in India or anywhere in the world. this cannot be said about telecom and I feel that is one of the greatest achievements of web.

Now about products that are going to be here, think about searh engines, e-commerce.. I cannot think about a day with out google:). and i think e-commerce has a better reach than tele-marketting.

I can’t agree more reading both your thoughts. So different the telecom and web worlds are, so challenging will be to merge them. Or can they ever be merged? I have a vision that they can, but what’s your opinion? Is it about the one world to eat up the other one or is it about a friendly live next to each other? Wouldn’t certain internet players be happy to access subscribers they can’t access today but would the telco operators happy about that? What’s your vision?

Frank, I’d say they can.

As I always say, the infrastructure will come from the telecom world, the applications will come from the web world. That’s the future.

Right, I share your view. That means that operators will need to give up their walled garden (especially in the mobile world). The business for them could look like to focus on efficient data pipes towards the consumers, content and applications to come internet like from the web. This will be a rocky path and require a major change in mindset and time!

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