Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Facebook's 10-Year Roadmap Includes "Connectivity" as Among Top 3 Technology Directions

Here’s another illustration of growing changes in the Internet ecosystem that pose a huge challenge to incumbent access providers.

Facebook has released some details about its 10-year roadmap. On the agenda: virtual reality, artificial intelligence and “connectivity.”

Connectivity includes drones, satellites, terrestrial solutions, telco infrastructure.

A couple of key points: Internet access no longer is the exclusive province of telcos, cable TV, fixed wireless or satellite providers of Internet access. Many other entities, including ISP businesses set up by local government, independent ISPs and application provders, are going to bundle Internet access with their other products.

That is not so unusual. Broadcast TV, broadcast radio, linear video entertainment, fixed and mobile voice and text messaging are apps or services that bundle access as part of some other product.

When we say that content is going to a growing part of the access provider business, that is only a reflection of the broader historic reality for many managed services.

Over time, it is highly likely that content and apps will be bundled with access for consumption by consumer users and customers, as connectivity, storage, computing or other services often are bundled as part of specialized business customer networks.

Source: Facebook

The other observations are that participants within the Internet ecosystem often expand into adjacent roles within the ecosystem, while it also is proving to be easier to move “down the stack” than “up the stack.”

When access providers add managed services or Internet apps, or app providers add access, those are examples of firms taking on additional roles within the ecosystem.

When app or service providers become device suppliers, or device suppliers become access providers, those are additional examples of ecosystem participants moving into adjacencies.

When app or service providers build their own devices, those are examples of moves into adjacencies.

Sometimes the moves are driven by strategic reasons, such as maintaining or gaining dominance in a market segment.  In other cases the moves might simply reflect the ability to grow gross revenue or reduce costs.

Ericsson has built an interesting business operating service provider networks, for example, essentially allowing access service providers to outsource operations.

The long term implications for access providers are clear enough. Staying within the one assigned ecosystem role (access) is going to be difficult, or dangerous, as time passes and more suppliers in other parts of the ecosystem decide that access is something they should be providing.

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