Metro Connect USA 2013 – Post Event Newsletter
February, 2013 – Capacity Conferences would like to thank all of the 372 attendees, 167 companies, 13 sponsors and 12 exhibitors for giving the 13th annual Metro Connect USA such a vibrant, buzzing atmosphere.
The renowned pre-event BBQ & Beers (hosted by LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS) helped set the tone for the conference with great food, good beer and interesting company under the miraculously rain-free Miami sky.
The opening keynote on day one teed up discussion points echoed throughout the conference as the moderator, Fedor Smith, President at ATLANTIC-ACM navigated the threats and opportunities apparent in the metro market today.
The C-level panel, comprising of Kevin Koyne (FIBERLIGHT), Kevin O’Hara (INTERGRA TELECOM), Clint Heiden(SIDERA NETWORKS) and Dan Caruso (ZAYO) covered a vast range of topics.
Each member of the panel was asked about the consolidation and M&A continuing in the market. On the subject of the Lightower merger Clint Heiden said that for Sidera ‘the most important thing in the M&A process is keeping up productivity and stressing the importance of our fibre’. For Dan Caruso, ‘consolidation has created a balance between those who have fibre and those who need fibre’ and from his point of view the industry ‘needs to know how to create equity value through performance’. Expanding on the valuation point, Kevin O’Hara said ‘fibre players are in favour, CLECs are out of favour but what is never out of favour is a great business’.
The opportunities touted in the keynote session were diverse too, Dan Caruso said that for him revenue growth will come from ‘dark fibre to the tower’ to service wireless carriers. Clint Heiden placed his bets on the cloud (‘creating diversity and unique routes for the cloud ecosystem is a creative opportunity’). He also urged fibre-based delegates not hand the cloud over to data centres and emphasised the value that fibre networks create for the industry: ‘the network is the cloud’. This sentiment was echoed by metro service providers throughout the conference with many participants voicing their support for the network, including Tim Biltz (LUMOS NETWORKS) who, in his keynote interview on day 2 of the conference said, ‘we should not give away the cloud to another industry’.
The panellists agreed that latency is no longer a revenue-growth priority with Clint Heiden saying ‘latency is becoming a tougher thing to chase after but it is a differentiator’.
Other themes explored throughout the conference on day one included an executive evaluation of SDN (‘elastic pipes’ are seen to have 3 – 5 year adoption timeline) and strategic analysis of company valuations and M&A in the marketplace. The day was rounded off by an executive-level assessment of the network (products, services and technologies) and Mike Hurley (FIBERTECH NETWORKS) moderated an interesting debate with a varied panel including LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS, NEXXCOM WIRELESS, SUNESYS and XO COMMUNICATIONS.
Competition was seen across the entire agenda as a threat for the metro market with both cable companies and municipal networks causing some worry for service providers. Karen Schmidt (COMCAST BUSINESS SERVICES) perhaps added to the fear during the keynote interviews on day 2 (presided over by Randy Lowe, Partner at DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE) when she spoke about how COMCAST BUSINESS SERVICES had built themselves into a $2.4 billion business.
On the other hand Christopher Mitchell (INSTITUTE FOR LOCAL SELF RELIANCE) who advises communities on the implementation of municipal networks stressed that communities will only fund the construction of their own networks when they feel that their local businesses and households are frustrated and disadvantaged by poor service in their area. Christopher Mitchell also mentioned that larger cities are increasingly prioritising telecoms infrastructure as a means to attract enterprise and compete on a national level. Tim Biltz (LUMOS NETWORKS) shared his company’s motto “let us not forget” with delegates and emphasised the need for operators not to forget their core business as infrastructure providers and to ‘keep the table stakes strong’.
The keynote was followed by a dissection of the current status of wireless backhaul across the US and an amazing insight into an $7 billion lit industry. All the panellists (Steve Leeolou, CONTERRA BROADBAND SERVICES, Greg Flanagan, ENVENTIS and Ron Mudry, TOWER CLOUD) agreed that whilst small cells were an exciting development on the horizon their economics remained a challenge for operators. Steve Leeolou suggested that the most viable way forward for operators to make the small cell numbers work would be through infrastructure sharing.
Given the fibre-oriented demographic of the audience and the tone set by Clint Heiden, (‘the network is the cloud’) Metro Connect USA 2013 closed with an in-depth discussion of cloud and how data centres and networks can leverage each other’s core capabilities to build a profitable cloud for all involved.