Last week I attended Supercomm, spoke on a panel in the AdvancedTCA forum and attended the first day of the PICMG MicroTCA working group meetings.
I've been focused on mobile communications so, for me, the 3GSM and CTIA conferences are more important than Supercomm with its focus on traditional telecom operators. None-the-less there were some interesting trends.
Fixed-mobile convergence was a major issue at the earlier mobile shows as mobile operators are running out of new individuals sign up, at least in the developed countries, and so are looking for services they can sell to enterprises. The idea is one service (one or two numbers) works at your desk, on your mobile phone using VoIP over WiFi in your enterprise (or a hotspot) and on your mobile phone over regular cellular otherwise. Well at Supercomm, it was apparent that all operators, fixed & mobile are interested, as are IP-PBX vendors. The issue is who will be the primary service provider. I saw more vendors and more IMS (IP Multimedia Systems) hype, but nothing particularly new versus the article I wrote 6-7 weeks ago for International Wireless Telecoms (UK).
Whether I believe the IMS hype or not, we (NMS) sell a lot of systems that are used for media services in the Intelligent Network and the evolving IMS, so fixed-mobile convergence is good for NMS.
AdvancedTCA was everywhere. Last year at this time, there were chassis, boards and other AdvancedTCA components available, but few systems. This year there were system-level products based on AdvancedTCA on display in a wide variety of booths. NEC, Huawei, Alcatel, Nortel and Siemens have each stated they are migrating the majority of their platforms to AdvancedTCA over time. Other vendors, like Lucent, also spoke about migrating platforms to AdvancedTCA, but without a firm commitment as to when or how much. In any event, it was clear we've turned the corner -- AdvancedTCA is happening in a big way.
The PICMG display area had many AdvancedTCA component vendors, including NMS, displaying a wealth of technology: chassis, components, boards, software, many different Advanced Mezzanine Cards (AMCs) and quite a few MicroTCA chassis. The latter were a bit surprising as the MicroTCA specification is still in development and unlikely to be final before the end of the year (at the earliest).
Among other things, NMS demo'ed what I think is the first implementation of iTDM, the Internet TDM protocol, approved by PICMG a few months ago and discussed in this article.
Triple (or quadruple) Play for the ILECs based on IP-TV over DSL or various flavors of PON. It's hard for me to picture the major ILECs catching up with cable company offerings anytime soon, but there was an enormous amount of equipment on display.
QoS, SLAs and Flow Control were widely discussed and promoted. The industry is trying hard to duplicate the fine-grained control of ATM. This is a poor use of capital, understood in Internet circles (for example see this by Dan Blicklin), but the debate goes on... I shouldn't complain, as NMS has a significant play providing media servers, media server technology and other audio and video media infrastructure for IMS and NGN networks.
This is the last Supercomm. The TIA and USTA are parting ways and the name will end. Next year the TIA will have Globalcomm in Chicago June 5-8, 2006 and the USTA will run TelecomNEXT in Las Vegas March 19-23, 2006. Too many shows...