The Dawn of the Stupid Network
In recent history, the basis of telephone company value has been the sharing of scarce resources -- wires, switches, etc. - to create premium-priced services; glass fibers have gotten clearer, lasers are faster and cheaper, and processors have become many orders of magnitude more capable and available. In other words, the scarcity assumption has disappeared, which poses a challenge to the telcos' "Intelligent Network" model. A new type of open, flexible communications infrastructure, the "Stupid Network," is poised to deliver increased user control, more innovation, and greater value.
Telephone companies (telcos) have always pushed technology improvements that promote the smooth continuation of their basic business. They invented the stored program control switch in the 1970s, as a move toward cost reduction and reliability. Programmability also made possible certain call routing and billing services. In the 1980s, phone companies began marketing these services as the "Intelligent Network." Technology continued its trajectory of improvement, but because technology began to change the value proposition in ways that the old business could not assimilate, the telcos seemed to "fall asleep at the switch" at the core of their network. Meanwhile, the Stupid Network – based on abundant, high-performance elements that emphasized transmission over switching, as well as user control of the vast processing power at the network’s edges – was taking shape.
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