For those operating in the telecommunications industry, there are a number of exciting developments on the horizon for 2010.
Some will lend to continuing to drive innovation, while others will open the doors expanded new products and services. For Aelea Christofferson, president of ATL RespOrg Services, 2010 could easily see the introduction of regulatory decisions that could fundamentally change the competitive advantage of IP carriers and the wireless industry.
Christofferson spoke with TMC (News - Alert) CEO Rich Tehrani (the full interview is provided below) on the impact of the 2009 recession and how it actually helped ATL RespOrg Services as companies are reviewing options that reduce their overall cost of operation. With Obama now in office, Christofferson is excited about the support of competition in the market and anticipates great things from the new FCC (News - Alert) Chair.
If she were to assume the highest elected office in the United States, Christofferson would move to settle regulatory and government issues that continue to slow innovation. In looking to the future of the industry and where market growth should be expected, Christofferson pointed to wireless. As for outrageous predictions, Christofferson leaned toward hopeful in anticipating FCC and Congressional decisions that will move underlying costs of supporting high-cost geographic areas to the new wireless and IP carriers.
Their exchange follows.
RT: What’s the most innovative product that’s going to hit the market in 2010, from a company other than your own?
Aelea Christofferson (pictured left): I don’t think it will be a product. I think it will be regulatory decisions that could fundamentally change the competitive advantage of IP carriers and the wireless industry. If you consider AT&T’s issue with Google (News - Alert) blocking high cost rural areas from their voice service and the Obama administration’s statements supporting competition in the telecom arena. The decisions made will influence telecommunications infrastructure and direction.
RT: We entered 2009 in a recession and now we’re seeing signs of the economy picking up. How did the slow economy affect demand for your products and services and what are you anticipating in 2010?
AC: I sometimes hate to admit it, but our business does better in economic downturns. All companies use telecommunications and a poor economic outlook drives the users and the providers to review products and services they normally just let ride. Since our multi-carrier routing service brings the ability to lower the toll free bill, the users are more likely to be interested in understanding the option than in good times when it doesn’t seem so important.
We see a lot of activity at the government level in 2010 around homeland security and disaster recovery. Works in progress such as the national infrastructure protection plan will be able to be implemented more easily as the country recovers economically. More than 90 percent of entities being considered in these plans are in the private sector.
RT: President Barack Obama has been in office for nearly a year. What has surprised you, whether a pleasant surprise or disappointment, about his presidency, policies and administration?
AC: I can’t say it was a surprise, but certainly as expected president Obama’s administration is more competition friendly than the last administration. For eight years the telecom industry saw competition slowly erode without much government interference. With the new FCC chair I am hoping that we will see a new interest in supporting competition.
RT: If you were president of the United States, what tech-friendly policies would you enact?
AC: I would start with moving quickly to settle the regulatory and government issues that are slowing down technical innovation. Investors have to be frustrated when they don’t know if regulation is going to make their investment grow or stall. Is the country going to continue to support low-cost rural phone and broadband and who is going to pay for that? Now that the bell system has been rebuilt, how will that lack of competition affect new technology? With these questions unanswered a lot of innovation might be stalled.
RT: What are some of the areas of market growth in the next few years?
AC: I see wireless as a real growth leader in the next few years. If you look overseas, the countries that started spreading their telecom footprints when wireless became available were able to skip a whole expensive wireline installation step and that has given them a real advantage. Government spectrum sales and how that is bundled with national security issues may fuel that growth in new ways.
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO East 2010 in Miami, to be held Jan. 20 to 22. Talk to us about your session or sessions. Who should attend and why?
AC: I will one of the presenter in the “co-opetition” session. I was pleased to be selected for this session because this topic has been a passion of mine for years. It’s the “why not get something instead of nothing” approach that is so important as landline, wireless, and IP carriers compete for the same markets. I will be talking from my expertise, toll free, which is an interesting part of the industry for working together. IP carriers need wireline to get the callers connected to their network. All carriers need other carriers to provide end-to-end disaster recovery. Recognition of these symbiotic relationships has been slow in coming.
RT: Please give me one outrageous prediction pertaining to our markets for 2010.
AC: Decisions will emerge from the FCC and congress that will begin to move some of the underlying cost of supporting high-cost geographic areas to the new wireless and IP carriers. This will change the bottom line competition models between wireline and non-wireline carriers.
To find out more about Aelea Christofferson and ATL RespOrg Services, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2010. To be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Christofferson is speaking during “Co-Opetition: Don’t Fight ‘em, Join ‘em!” Don’t wait. Register now.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan