The biggest challenge facing attendees at MW Americas last week was which sessions to attend. Open discussion of topical subjects is the hallmark of TM Forum events and when our industry was clearly segmented into neat silos it was easy to stick to one stream and be happy. Today’s CSP is becoming anything but siloed and people often have as much interest in attending the Cloud Summit as the New Services and Business Models or Customer Experience summits. What a conundrum!

However, this year’s roundtables are stole much of the limelight. The Insider sat in on a few, where space permitted, and found intense debate the dominant theme. Maybe it’s that the event was being held in the USA, but it seems that people here have shed the mantle of shyness and quiet introspection and were outwardly contributing to the discussions.

This year’s theme of ‘Beating the Revenue Crunch’ was probably best exemplified in the ‘Monetizing Bandwidth’ roundtable where the issue of ‘net neutrality’ reared its ugly head. Most of the discussion revolved around providing differing levels ‘QOS’ (quality of service) to be able to charge differentially. The mere introduction of things like policy management, traffic shaping and traffic prioritization, critical in delivering higher levels of service are, in essence, contrary to the basic premise of net neutrality.

The issue here is not about filtering or censorship but one of providing premium service for applications that need it, e.g. health services and video streaming. CSPs that invest millions of dollars in network infrastructure feel they should have the right to manage the network as they please and be able to monetize premium services to subsidize lees critical traffic. Most are having to do that already, simply to cope with high data volumes. Even the provision of VPNs could be deemed to be contrary to the net neutrality argument.

Investing more and more on network capacity is not the only answer with smarter management of data traffic a sensible option. That’s presuming the regulators don’t legislate against it. Some CSPs in attendance suggested that the TM Forum lead the charge but surely all those whose revenue streams are being threatened should group together at national level and voice their collective concern.

You will surely be hearing a lot more on this subject and I will be producing a Quick Insight from the findings of this roundtable later this year for the TM Forum publications team. That should be one to look out for.