Industry speakers at Business Telecom 2000 here Wednesday urged vendors and corporations to rev up development of the applications and services that will define the broadband Internet experience that users are now looking for.
"The holy war now is not between DSL and cable, but between broadband and narrowband services," said Solomon Trujillo, former head of Denver-based US West Inc.
With Trujillo at the helm, US West aggressively ramped up separate cable and DSL infrastructures before the company was gobbled up in a merger with Denver-based Qwest.
Trujillo said both broadband technologies soon will overcome the major hurdles standing in the way of massive deployment.
For cable, those are mostly security issues around its shared infrastructure.
For DSL, there are serious implications now tied to its distance limitations.
"In three to four years, everything will be different. There will be more predictable bandwidth. And for DSL, especially, that will be important," Trujillo said.
Trujillo's maturation-of-broadband theme played right into the conference's second keynote speech, where former Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Greg Maffei elaborated on his vision of the next-generation networking cycle.
Maffei -- now CEO of Seattle-based 360 Networks -- also said developing broadband infrastructures will fuel rich, deep, consumer and business Internet services.
"Once users don't need to dial up, the amount of time they will spend on the Internet will go up and the amount of services they will consume will go up dramatically," Maffei said.
Ticking off a list of ingredients in the networking world to come, Maffei called for continued acceleration of data traffic and an "explosion" of network services.
Maffei also said the telecommunications industry, like the hardware and software sectors, will become increasingly horizontal.
On Thursday, conference keynote speaker Anthony Craig -- chairman and CEO of New York-based bandwidth trading company Arbinet-thexchange -- will elaborate on the future of telecommunications, predicting that bandwidth will become more of a commodity.
In an interview before his conference address, Craig detailed the steps now leading up to more corporate use of such exchanges.
First, corporations will look to bandwidth exchanges as a way to take on additional capacity for select applications and as a means to handle overflow demand. Increasingly, that will lead to the use of exchanges for select applications.
"The easiest example of corporate use of the exchange is videoconferencing," Craig said.
Using an exchange, enterprises could now buy the capacity at the prescribed time at an auction-rate price.
Now standing in the way of widespread corporate use of bandwidth exchanges is the lack of a way to measure bandwidth so it can change hands as a commodity.
Currently, trading operates mostly with carriers offering up batches of minutes -- be those voice, data, or fax.
"Right now there is no standard for the unit or for how to count how big a packet is and how to trade that," Craig said.
Several networking start-up companies are aiming to come up with ways of divvying up traffic to broaden trading possibilities.
Jennifer Jones is an InfoWorld senior editor.