Open platform key to profit says Intel chief

The telecoms industry needs to turn to open interfaces and a modular architecture in order to drive costs down and deliver new...

The telecoms industry needs to turn to open interfaces and a modular architecture in order to drive costs down and deliver new revenue-generating applications for customers, Intel chief executive Craig Barrett said yesterday (4 June) at the Supercomm conference in San Francisco.

The current telecoms doldrums will pass as new services emerge that bring value to customers, especially ones that they can easily take advantage of different fixed and mobile devices, Barrett said. To bring out attractive services and return to profit, service providers will have to keep up some level of investment despite the hard times, but the key is to get a better return for that investment, he added.

The industry needs to move from proprietary systems built to perform specific tasks to standards-based modular building blocks, in Barrett's view. "The new structure of this industry has to be different from the old," he said.

Intel recently has been making a big push into the networking and telecoms industry in order to take advantage of the emerging trend in LANs and metropolitan networks, as well as pushing the Intel computing architecture for service-provider servers and network devices.

Barrett said that as Intel packs more transistors on a processor, the cost of integrating networking functions such as support for wireless networking will become almost zero. The company will eventually be able to integrate radios for all wireless protocols on every class of processor, he said.

A new generation of revenue-generating services will require broadband of a different class than that typically offered today in the USA, Barrett added.

"Three-hundred or 400Kbps is not real broadband," Barrett said. Throughput of 5Mbps to 10Mbps is needed, he said, which requires a national broadband policy to get high-speed access widely deployed.

Speeds of 5Mbps to 10Mbps probably will not be widely available for at least two years because of high cost, said LeRoy Rice, director of product management at Celite Systems, a digital subscriber line equipment startup in Texas, USA. Celite is developing equipment for service provider networks that helps them make better use of the existing copper wires to customers' homes, boosting speed - but not to the level required by Barrett, yet.

As for the carrier industry adopting the Intel architecture for its equipment, Rice indicated Intel may have a long road ahead. Motorola is well entrenched in the communications chip market, and the Compact PCI interface is perceived in the industry as not robust enough, he said, although it might not be difficult to make it more solid.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)