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Industry Perspective: Eugene Roman

Eugene Roman, CTO of Bell Canada, is giving a talk titled "We are all connected". 

"This year is the 125th anniversary of Bell Canada, and in that 125 years, telecommunications has evolved into a highly complex set of networks", begins Eugene.

What is the impact of Moore’s Law, and what is the impact of Metcalfe’s Law?  He re-asks the question as what is the impact of the digitization of everything, and what is the impact of ubiquitous, always-on, always-available broadband?

Eugene talks about the emergence of the hypernet — the next evolution of the Internet.  Based on FTTN, FTTP, IP v6, XML as lingua franca and as routing system, meta systems, work BOTS, and hosted services.  It’s a world where applications efficiently harness the power of the network, and the compute power in end point devices.  This is the future of innovation.

10 years ago, if you had said Internet technologies are the future of communications, you would have been laughed out of the room.  Today, everyone would nod their head.  The autonomic, always on user is about smart devices everywhere, the anytime anywhere user, the emergence of the 4th screen (cellular phone?), and the digitization of everything.

The broadband world is all about services on demand.

Bell is focused on migrating their access network to FTTN, high speed wireless access networks, one IP/MPLS network, and introducing IP value added services.  He mentioned the introduction of Bell Digital Voice, and talked about the unique strategy of using a softswitch to drive the PSTN. 

He talks about new uses for the network once it’s on.  Mostly pedestrian uses of networks that are already here.  But as Nicholas Negroponte once said "The future is already here.  It’s just unevenly distributed."  He uses this as a jumping off point to talk about how digital services and products are different.  He used the example of a recent wedding he went to — he called it the Digital Wedding — where he took 800 photos, and got 10 really good ones.  The ratio is about right for an amateur photographer, but no amateur in the world of film would have spent the money on processing for 800 pictures.

What matters in a broadband world?  The triple "S" play — speed, security, services.  He says we need more than 22 mbits!  Here here! When can I go to my Bell World store and order it? Security must be enhanced.  60% of email in North America is SPAM.  Over 8,000 new viruses released in the first six months of the year.  But innovative new applications are the most important piece.  What will people do with this always-on bandwidth.

I liked this talk a lot.  It related technology to life, and it’s impact on how we live, socialize, and work in the future.  No earth shattering new ideas, but a lot of riffing and re-casting of common themes and popular ideas that made you rethink them.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Michael Elling September 29, 2005, 1:44 pm


    It’s funny to hear a bell-head opine on the next generation Internet. Lessee, we break-up AT&T, competition ensues in the WAN, the disparate RBOCs resort to flat rate local pricing to preserve their Class5 monopoly, and datawonks (the ones who like distributed anarchy and promote SPAM) see an opening to the access barriers through distributed local data access (Steve Case, et al). That’s the foundation for the first internet. On top of that was piled IP/arpanet, www, html, browsers, email, search, commerce, porn. That’s Internet 1.

    So how does Eugene come off saying that the bells will be able to drive Internet II? As best I can tell it will once again be through unintended consequences from actions taken to preserve their access monopolies! At the same time, legacy service providers and vendors face the widest pricing and application chasm (of Mt Everest to a mole hill proportion compared to 1988) that they’ve faced in 20 years. So no room, this time around, for mistakes and unintended consequences.

    Michael Elling
    Information Velocity Partners, LLC

  • Alec September 29, 2005, 2:50 pm


    Naturally, he has to say that in order to be seen as relevant. But, of the Bells, BCE is one of the best. Dig through their annual reports. You’ll see they’ve been a quad play player since the late 90’s. Unlike the situation in the US, there was no breakup in Canada. Eugene truly does have a rich and diversified set of communications assets. The challenge for him, now, is to make those assets work for Bell in the face of competition from cable, and IP insurgents.


  • Eugene Roman October 20, 2005, 8:34 pm


    I was puzzled by your commentary. I can only assume you weren't at VON to hear my presentation first hand. In my speech at VON, it was clear that I did not offer a suggestion as to who was going to drive Internet II. I believe that the powerful ecosystem which I call the Hypernet (you call it Internet II) will expand and grow in unpredicatable ways along a variety of vectors. Yahoo, EBay, Google arrived unpredictably and disruptively. DSL has been deployed disruptively in some countries (Japan, Korea) and is taking off in the US after a slow start.

    Carriers (a broad definition) that "get it" (some will, some will not) will have to focus not only on building the ecosystem but also providing useful "digital services" in order to monetize the investments needed to support this high performance digitial ecosystem. Over the top (OTT) providers of digital services will focus on specific vectors which create useful value chains. Some will innovate and grow, others (remember the dot com bomb) will not.

    Lots to discover, even more hard work ahead of all of us – the workers of the emerging "on demand digital era"….

    P.S. Don't assume that folks who work for a carrier are "bell-heads". You might be surprised at the creative talent to be found in the carrier co's….yes even in the good old USA….. We might consider calling them…"bell aheads"….


  • Tony Manganiello December 9, 2005, 3:55 pm

    I agree with Michael, the Bell’s are dinosaurs. Bell Canada couldn’t seem to “get it” for the last 7 years and always fell short of expectations. Even with the significant headstart, they managed to blow it and let the cablecos and “IP Insurgents” eat their lunch.

    At this point the slow death of the traditional Canadian ILEC’s has already begun.


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