Why Telecom and Internet App Cultures are So Different

Those of you who have spent any appreciable amount of time in and around both the telecom and application industries recognize there are cultural differences between practitioners in both types of industries, beyond any differences in age, gender, educational attainment or any of the other “protected class” categories human resources people deal with.

There are good reasons for those differences. The fundamental business models that drive each industry are quite distinct, and in some ways polar opposites. Ubiquitous access and mobile networks are capital intensive and based on use of “scarce” licensed spectrum resources. Internet-based application businesses are asset light and based on abundance (nearly zero costs to product an incremental unit).

And though the direction of change in the access business is towards more abundance, retail access facilities remain relatively expensive and capital intensive, where it comes to scaling operations. “Web scale” providers also have to make heavy capital investments upfront, but the cost of supplying incremental units of supply is quite low.

In fact, it would not be incorrect to say that whole Internet application business model is based on abundance: universal access by anyone, on any device, from anywhere, for any reason, at any time.

In other words, to a great extent, application business models are based on Moore’s Law, and the abundance Moore’s Law brings to computing. As with coding, resources are so abundant (compute cycles and memory) that resources can be “wasted.”

Rarely are access network professionals so casual about “wasting” resources. In fact, much effort goes into finding ways to minimize the need for additional investment in capability.

source: MIT Sloan Review
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