Communications At Home and Abroad

Top of Mind

Communications At Home and Abroad

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  April 25, 2012

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

In an effort to ensure 911 and other critical communications infrastructure is available to all customers not matter what technology they use, the Federal Communications Commission in mid February issued a report and order that will hold interconnected VoIP service providers to the same outage reporting requirements as traditional operators. This comes at a time in which nearly a third of U.S. residential telephone customers use VoIP service at home.

The new rules for interconnected VoIP service providers were generally well received.

Brendan Kasper, senior regulatory counsel for Vonage (News - Alert), told INTERNET TELEPHONY: “We applaud and appreciate the commission's willingness to take into account issues identified with the original proposed outage reporting rules and to craft well-targeted rules focused on advancing the commission's mission to protect critical communications. The new rules will help ensure that the commission can protect critical communications, while at the same time avoid subjecting VoIP providers to substantial and unnecessary development and implementation costs.”

8x8 Inc. CEO Bryan Martin (News - Alert) commented to INTERNET TELEPHONY: “This ruling would provide service providers with a requirement to notify the FCC of any outage or interruption of services and emergency calling capabilities. I think it is further validation of the significant penetration and use of IP-based services in the U.S. communications services marketplace. Businesses of all sizes are now relying on cloud-based, hosted communications as their primary communications infrastructure, and the FCC (News - Alert) is acknowledging this simple fact with these new rule proposals.”

On an altogether different front, I recently spoke with Diane Landau, founder and CEO of consulting firm Global Resources Inc., about important developments abroad as they relate to the communications space. Since 1991, Landau has worked with developing and emerging countries to design and implement ICT and infrastructure projects.

Landau earlier this year headed off to South Africa – which has one of the largest and most developed telecommunication networks in Africa, but where broadband penetration is just 7 percent – for an engagement with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. The agency selected Global Resources to work with stakeholders in the South Africa ICT sector to identify and develop projects for potential USTDA funding support in an effort to increase broadband penetration and create opportunities there for global suppliers.

Other areas of the world that present exciting opportunities for the ICT space, according to Landau, include Azerbaijan, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey. The prime minister of oil-rich Azerbaijan has named ICT as the country’s second area of focus, says Landau, who was recently hired on by that country’s leadership to help expand efforts on that front. With the recent elections in Morocco, that country has seen a fair amount of change recently. But Digital Morocco 2013 is one of the best national initiatives Landau has seen developed. The effort aims to position Morocco as an ICT leader and technology hub by making broadband more available and accessible, by developing national digital content, by leveraging its human and digital resources to attract business from overseas, and by reinforcing cooperation between Morocco’s research institutes and the private sector to turn the country’s existing national research potential into marketable technology and products.

BT (News - Alert) obviously sees the appeal of these parts of the world as well, as it just announced expansion plans on this front. According to BT, the addressable market in Turkey, the Middle East and Africa was worth a combined $8.5 billion in last year, and IT spending growth across the regions is expected to top 10 percent this year.

“The Middle East already hosts some of the world’s main business hubs, and is a crucial region for many of our customers,” said Jeff Kelly, CEO BT Global Services (News - Alert). “New opportunities are rapidly emerging in the region, and we are now expanding from our thriving base in the United Arab Emirates. Turkey is a key business bridge between Europe, Asia and the Middle East and is growing rapidly. Sub-Saharan Africa remains largely a new frontier for ambitious businesses and is currently showing strong growth rates in a number of countries. We are extending our network capabilities in that region beyond our strong South African operation, with the ambition of serving our customers wherever they seek new opportunities. We are also seeing the emergence of a new generation of local companies in these regions, eager to expand globally. Our new initiatives show that when we talk about global ambitions, we truly mean global.”

Although expanding into some of these areas of the world would seem to have a significant amount of risk, the desire to expand globally clearly has strong appeal. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2010 GDP in advanced economies increased on average 3 percent while it increased 7.2 percent in emerging and developing areas. This trend is only expected to continue.

Edited by Jennifer Russell