Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Content Driven Industry

While we are all net - savvy and connection oriented today Internet has brought a new meaning to all of our lives. No, I am not talking about social networking.... That is the bad part.... What I am talking about is Internet is becoming a sort of necessity when it comes for us to do our regular activities like travelling, shopping, chatting etc....

I was in the First year of my college in 1998 when I first had the brush with this amazing world of the world wide web. Those days the most interesting part in the internet used to be the e-mail. It was wonderful that how we could now send messages that would have been otherwise sent by post to somebody as far as the other part of the globe in seconds. After that I begun to pay a visit to the cyber-cafe regularly. You could send files, pictures etc by e-mail and that was phenomenol. Then came another innovation, the yahoo chat room. Yes that was really a big leap at that time. Now you need to wait for a reply. You could fix up a time and chat with your friends in all parts of the globe in a group real time. Yes real time. That was like invention of the wheel. But now that too is obsolete and primitive.

In the past 16 years that I have experienced the internet and for the past 13 years that I am working in this sector I find the most important thing that has evolved this technology/industry as you may call it is "CONTENT".

Now when we talk about content this is a very vast topic and probably one blog post is not enough to discuss the entire aspect of content. However, to make it very short content is the matter that is being served by a particular web service or app or any other internet driven tool. We as telecom engineers can talk about lot of things. Like there was circuit switched network, then packet network, then more expansion. On the Mobility side moving from GPRS to EDGE to 3G to HSIA+ to 4G LTE. Much as we say that the evolution in the telecom was to increase the effective available bandwidth towards the users. And why did the users need higher bandwidth increase... That was due to enriched "CONTENT". Yes demand alone does not drive this industry it is CONTENT that drives the industry.

A popular content can create a huge demand and this compels Telcos and ISPs to provide higher bandwidth for this service. Needless to say that since it is the content that drives this industry the revenue shares for a content provider would and should be the maximum in the value chain.

Refer the link below for more details on how to create better content for a content driven startup.
Alpha-Digest (Experts in Content Creation)

Therefore it is but apparent for any budding technical professional or any one in this telecom industry who would want to evolve to make a venture to the Content Industry. But hey... Just one minute though.... Content is not purely technology. When we make this move from going to a content driven industry from a conventional telco as an individual choice we need to keep this thing in mind that this is a transition from Science to Art. Well, I still believe there is a lot of science left in the Indian Telco Industry apart from the large volume that it has, but that is a different story. Content creation and content design is an art and a lifetime of experience may not be enough and sometimes and accidental Idea may be having the potential to generate Millions of bucks. Look at ideas like Facebook, Youtube and Whatsapp... The idea is worth millions and as they evolve more they make more revenue not only on the popularity factor but also the customer inquisition factor. Every customer wonders, what will be next?

So if there is need to start up a content driven business one has to first understand the following aspects .

1. What are we targetting?: We have to be very clear as to what are the people we are targetting. Eg linkedin targets professionals, myntra targets shoppers and so on.

2. What should be the Frontend Presentation of the same?: Based on what we are targetting the frontend of the webpage should be made user friendly to that degree.

3. What should be the effective weight of pages?: India is a bandwidth starved country rather than a bandwidth rich country. As per the latest surveys we rank very low in the levels of internet speed and experience. Of course this is not in every part of india. A heavy loaded page would consume more bandwidth and a lite platform will make it available faster but will compromize on the richness of the content. So here is the trade-off call that needs to be taken by Artists and Engineers together. Of course different versions of the same content page can be made and this is another form of content engineering that can be.

4. How to distribute the content?: While there are content creators and hosters there are also content distributors. Just like any product is made in the factory but it reaches the market only due to the distributors so it is apparent that this time the appropriate content host and distributor is chosen. The Distributor can be a third party distributor in some regions, in some regions it can be the telco itself.

5. How to monetize the Content?: Now this is a critical part. If your content is popular among the people then there should be the ability of the company to actually capitalize on that. So proper analytics of the content in the terms of hits and views and downloads have to be maintained so that this can be a factor to get more ad revenues and more people interested in uploading their own objects as a paid service through your website or app.

6. Feedback and constant Evolution: This is a very important process towards maintaining the validity of the content and that it is always evolving based on the feedbacks collected. As we know content is a product and product has a market and market has cosumers with voice. So it is imperative to listen to the voice of the consumer whcih changes the market and modifies the product accordingly.

I am not an expert though in this business of content creation. However, I thought this would be a very interesting and a different topics for many telecom engineers who are probably bored by just handling one tiny part of the Internet that deals with Delivery assurance rather than the content itself.

As listed in my post before also you can have more details on how to create a good content for any startup in the following link.


Till then keep innovating and keep evolving.



Thursday, March 31, 2016

New demands of higher throughput...... What are the ways to enhance your network

When there is a steady increase in demand and it seems that conventional ways will not be able to meet the TTM then realize that time has come to change the game.... Time has come to have a new approach......

Recent approaches in Mobility networks

2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, A-LTE, 5G Ready, WIMAX and what not. As we go ahead in this journey of telecom we see that almost every year a new revision of 3GPP is coming in increasing the last mile throughput standards. India being a market of around 1 Billion users is not untouched by such developments and with the developments in the world India also wants to keep pace with the same. But the real challenges are that how do you constantly expand and evolve networks that are mammoth in size.

A typical tier 1 network of an Indian Telco consists of 50,000 + network elements of different kinds. While the Mobility technology changes there will be changes of course in the last mile RF and in the Packet core but a substantial change also occurs for the expansion of the entire transmission network.

Transmission networks are to be changed with respect to Technology ( from TDM to packet), Platform ( from traditional tunneled architecture to a full IP base), Capacity ( Penetration of nX10G or 100G networks in the access), Flavour ( Putting access DWDM for future growth) and Topology ( from Ring to a self restoring mesh). What I understand that replacing the last mile RF equipments is relatively easy as they are the last mile points however evolving the transmission network is a bit challenging.

Indian operators have wonderfully handled this challenge with respect to changing networks from TDM to packet and now subsequently changing to self healing ip mesh but the major aspect which is the capacity is the thorn in the rose. Increasing capacity needs CAPEX and Time both of which are crititical to the service margins and time to market. So now let us look at the two approaches that people take to handle this.

1. Make the network FAT... (Conventional Grey Hair Planning)

I have introduced this term of "Grey Hair" Planning because in India it is becomes very difficult to convince "Experienced" persons to do something new. So this kind of planning for the future is the planning that the experienced people do and will keep on doing unless the owners realize that they have been totally gone kaput.

Nothing intelligent in this. The concept is still the same that there is one particular or few particular core locations of GGSN, Billing, PCRF and all of the content has to come from the core passing these gateways. Of course now the amount of content is much higher and more in volume. So to meet these high demands they need to make the network FAT. 10G networks to 100G and then introduction of DWDM in the access. More expenses... More complications and more people to look after.

The conventional way of network expansion

Now while this is really impressive and expensive we need to understand the major problems in this kind of growth. I am not saying that expansion in this fashion is not necessary. Yes it is. However, only thinking in this manner is not the key. This form of expansion has its challenges of time and especially in India where the network sizes are large the planning needs to be really careful. Most of the CAPEX is reserved in this but the experience for the users hardly increases.

2. Futuristic way of Planning

Most of the "Experienced" planners may not agree to this method so my humble request to them is please do not read this section and waste your time.

Most of the time we assume that critical services are going to be always in the core and not realizing that as and when there will be more demand for services they have to be closer to the users. The key to this is Virtualization and then localization in the edge. In this case expansion can take a back seat for some time and the operator can concentrate to distrubute services like Billing, PCRF and CDN in the edge so that content is deliverted from the Edge itself.

Virtualized network
In this approach we introduce the concept of virtualization but making VNFs (Virtual network functions) at critical edge locations. This makes the PCRF and BSS more distributed. In this structure the content is now localized at the edge. The network is not planned to catter Million subscribers but is now distributed to cater Several sets of 1000 customers in actual sense.

Creating this infrastructure will take much less time and less capex than creating an expanded infrastructure.

But I know, my dear friends, this is unconventional. It will take more time to convince the grey hairs to start the work for this. However, time will come when they will give way. So have

Normally it takes more time to convince the "Experienced" people for this technology than to actually lay down this technology.....