Telecom Tunnel Vision

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-06-11

Top executives at major international telecommunications carriers are seeing light at the end of the economic tunnel, and are convinced that a global recession has been averted.

But executives representing British Telecommunications, Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Telecom Italia and Australias Telstra also caution that they must focus now on basic business models, moderate growth, measured capital expenditures and efficient use of legacy systems.

Speaking at a Global Market Forum at last weeks SuperComm show in Atlanta, the executives said they remain optimistic, despite the sudden economic downturn, because of vast untapped markets for broadband services, both wireless and wireline.

Hugh Bradlow, chief technology officer at Telstra, said the company plans to focus its growth on Asian markets, where it sees the potential for hundreds of millions of fixed and mobile Internet connections.

Italys largest carrier is working on bringing its legacy systems to full capacity, reducing expenses and simplifying its architecture, said Stefano Pileri, Telecom Italias president of network services. And the company is exploring wider broadband markets, including trans-Atlantic connections to South America.

The economic slump is the "end of the beginning" of the communications revolution, said Jost Spielvogel, a member of the board of Siemens Information and Communication Networks Group.

Calling for a balance of network growth with service demand, and a balance of new technologies with legacy systems, Spielvogel, also CEO of Siemens unit Optisphere Networks, predicted international carriers will find new opportunities in broadband applications and come out of the economic slump in better health.

"Who will emerge from the tunnel first — or who may come out in a body bag — remains to be seen," he said.

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