Two keynotes by the leaders of ATT and Cox Communications covered topics near and dear to their respective hearts. Neither were particularly earth shattering, but getting the birds-eye view from the executive suite is useful because it informs us of companies' directions, goals and priorities.
John Stankey, President and CEO of ATT Operations, started off the day with his view of the broadband market in the US and where AT&T is going. While he didn't say anything as provocative as Verizon's CEO Ivan Seidenberg, he did open saying he was sad because of an FCC meeting and ruling on network neutrality. No one likes uncertainty, but let's face it, government regulation doesn't occur in a vacuum. The bulk of his keynote was more upbeat and in many ways a call to action.
Stankey points out that the broadband market is unpredictable. Broadband providers are investing in technology, he says, and investment is up even while the market tanks. There is more regulatory risk with proposed new rulings, and there are new demands from enterprises and end users. Add in additional demands that cross wired and wireless broadband, demand from enterprises and users for application and network mobility, seamless synchronization and reduced costs, and this adds up to network/broadband companies facing increased pressure to offer new services while not increasing fees.
He also talks about the opportunities to provide rich applications and experiences to end users and how AT&T and other carriers are building intelligent networks (showing Verizon's CEO that carriers can create smart networks that are equitable to all applications) that use intelligent routing schemes, fast route convergence and VPN. In fact, Stankey points out that these advanced capabilities enable the delivery of wholesale/retail network access, storage and hosting. He feeling downright positive about the strides AT&T has made to improve the manageability of their network.
He's not Pollyanna, though. "There are days when we feel like we are staring into to the abyss trying to scale capacity to demand and knowing that demand is going to keep increasing," Stankey said. I have to admit, the tier 1 carriers have a monumental task creating a flexible, cost effective network that can scale upward and he points out that they make long term investments in equipment. Carriers don't rip and replace willy-nilly. I have to respect the amount of work they put into building out their network.