Open platform key to profit, Barrett says

The telecommunications 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 Corp. Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett said here Tuesday in a keynote address at the Supercomm conference.

The current doldrums of the telecommunications industry will pass as new services emerge that bring value to customers, especially ones that they can easily take advantage of on 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.

In order to get that extra bang for the buck, 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 telecommunications industry, emerging as an optical interface maker to keep up with what it sees as the emerging trend in LANs and metropolitan networks, as well as pushing the Intel computing architecture for service-provider servers and network devices.

The news is good for end users too, he said, with new products emerging such as notebook PCs with 802.11 and Bluetooth wireless capability built in. As Intel packs more transistors on a processor, the cost of integrating networking functions such as support for wireless networking will become almost zero, Barrett said. The company eventually will be able to integrate radios for all wireless protocols on every class of processor.

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

"Three-hundred or 400K (bits per second) is not real broadband," Barrett said. Throughput of 5M bps to 10M bps is needed, he said. A key to that is a national broadband policy to get high-speed access widely deployed.

Supercomm continues through Thursday.

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