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Listen: Next in Tech | Episode 158: Mobile World Congress Review

The curtain has come down on Mobile World Congress for 2024, but the repercussions are just beginning to settle out. Brian Partridge and Rich Karpinski join host Eric Hanselman to look at what happened at the Congress and how the implications are panning out. 5G advanced and 6G were being soft pedaled as operators look to monetize the investments they’ve already made in 5G. The promise of AI loomed large and the promise of API delivered network services offered a new service opportunity.

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Next in Tech - Episode 158 Mobile World Congress Review

Table of Contents

Call Participants.............................................................................................................. 3

Presentation.................................................................................................................... 4

Question and Answer...................................................................................................... 6

Call Participants

ATTENDEES

Brian Partridge

Eric Hanselman

Rich Karpinski

Unknown Attendee

Unknown Attendee

Unknown Attendee

Unknown Attendee

Presentation

Eric Hanselman

Welcome to Next in Tech, an S&P Global Market Intelligence podcast where the world of emerging tech lives. I'm your host, Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst for Technology, Media and Telecom, S&P Global Market Intelligence. And today, we're going to be reviewing what we saw at Mobile World Congress, the annual gathering of the telecommunications community and so much more, but I wanted to start us off a little differently today just to get characterization, this was such a big sprawling event. And as you heard on the preview episode, we were looking for a lot of different things. We grabbed a few of the analysts and got them to do a forward summary of what they felt. So here's some quick views on that.

Brian Partridge

Hey Eric, it's Brian Partridge, I'm Head of Research for 451 Research and Kagan. And 4 words to describe Mobile World Congress in 2024 would be 6G is not here.

Unknown Attendee

I'm [ Luna ], Senior Analyst. My 4 words are it's all about AI.

Rich Karpinski

Yes, I'm Rich Karpinski, Principal Analyst, Leader IoT team and have a deep telecom background, so the show has been very interesting. My 4 words are generative AI and traditional AI.

Unknown Attendee

Hi. My name is Beatrice and I'm from the Automotive Digital Transformation Internet of Things channel. My 4 words are mobile and automotive innovation.

Unknown Attendee

I'm [ Joe Valencia ], research analyst for Asia Pacific Mobile. My 4 words are industry-driven, collaborative, AI powered and transformative.

Unknown Attendee

I'm [ Victoria Weinhiem, PortBev & Consulting ]. My 4 words are Edge, APIs, private 5G and quantum computing.

Eric Hanselman

As you can see, a significant amount of variation in terms of characterization, a lot of walking. I think we all did. And we've got 2 of the gang who are here with us today, Rich Karpinski and Brian Partridge, welcome back to the podcast to both of you.

Brian Partridge

Hey, Eric, thanks for having me.

Rich Karpinski

Hey, Eric, good to talk to you.

Question and Answer

Eric Hanselman

Well, I hope that your legs have recovered from all the walking. Hopefully, trips back were uneventful. And there is just so much to tackle in terms of what was there. I guess, first off, why don't we talk a little bit about some of what was the show itself and your impressions. So we've gotten you more words. But there was a lot that was going on this year. And I guess some of the main themes were kicking around, I guess, what did each of you see as some of those top-level things that you sort of spanned the event itself?

Brian Partridge

Yes. First, it's great to be back in Mobile World Congress with the full team. I think we had like 10 analysts there, which is really the most amount we've ever sent to that show, which is really telling it's interesting, right? It to me is symbolic what Mobile World Congress has become, which is really a much broader technology and innovation event than maybe it was just 5 or 6 years ago. And we had -- on the preview, we were talking about like 6 themes that are just spanning everything you can imagine.

Eric Hanselman

It really does. You had a great helping of AI there. You had Edge, you had transformation of CX. You had digital surrounding everything. You had virtual reality and spatial computing. So there was really a little bit everything for somebody. And the question always comes back to what's the key telecom takeaway with all this sort of stuff flying around the show. And as we know at this show, hope is pedaled extensively. And so we always go into this show and try to understand, okay, where are we really at relative to the things that are being talked about and the real opportunity for the telecom operators to, in fact, take advantage. And I'm thinking about things like private networks and satellite networks and APIs, mission-critical networks, cloudification, autonomous transportation, all of that was there in droves, and sort of we're like, okay, well, where is the real opportunity?

Rich Karpinski

Alongside a couple of packs of robot dogs and a few hovercraft, lots of drones, a full-sized electric vertical takeoff and landing mockup in one stand.

Brian Partridge

It was crazy. But that -- those markups have been there for a few years. And the question is, okay, so what's the real role for telco and in this case, autonomous transportation and what for C to X and V to X so it makes for some really interesting conversations at the show.

Eric Hanselman

And Rich, what were your thoughts about overarching themes.

Rich Karpinski

Yes. I mean I think picking up from what Brian was saying, this whole idea of promise versus reality has always been something that sort of dogged the telecom industry. And the show was good evidence that many of the promises are starting to become more real, but it also lays out the fact of how much more groundwork needs to be laid, how much more path needs to be traveled to make the things that you can put together in a demo or on a show floor, a reality at scale with customers out in the real world, with partners out in the real world. So there's a lot of ground left to be traveled, but it's sort of more real than ever across all of the types of use cases and applications that Brian was mentioning. Just the whole idea of connected industries. I think out of the areas that I cover primarily, it was really, really notable to see all the work being done and showcased around, Brian mentioned, transportation, mobility, manufacturing, supply chain, et cetera. These are real opportunities for telcos, but it's also a real challenge to get there.

Eric Hanselman

Well, it does seem like we're in this world in which there's an understanding that interconnection is the fundamental fabric that has to bind all these together. The question is who actually provides it and where does that connectivity come from? Because this is something where, hey, we're moving forward with 5G capabilities. And there was a lot of promise that was there, one of the things I'll call out to my mind was the fact that while there was a lot of overall integrated connectivity that was really the core piece of a lot of the messages that were there, looking at the next stages of development, which historically have been the purview of MWC, taking a look at things like promise of 5G advanced and 6G and these next stage technologies.

A lot of those conversations weren't happening and in many of the conversations I had, there was a tacit acknowledgment that the operators are still really trying to capitalize on their investments in 5G. There's maybe a little disappointment about how far they've been able to get, both in terms of monetizing networks, and what those returns started to look like and maybe a little reticence to jump into the future.

Brian Partridge

No, I think, Eric, you nailed it there, right? And that was the elephant in the room as you walk around the halls of the Fira. In many, many ways, 5G has been a disappointment because it just has not created the new pools of revenue that were initially sort of built into the business case. And therefore, the lack of that discussion and really the aggression around things like 5.5G and 6G, I think, was really the suppliers reading the room and understanding that, that is not the set of messaging that operators want wrapped over their head at the moment, which is why we saw a lot more focus on opening APIs in the existing network investments, i.e., sweat the investments that have already been made and incrementally sort of start to build the value on top of what's there.

And so I understood it completely that sentiment. At the same time, though, we still need to start to understand what were the things that didn't get into 5G that really needed to be there to start to shape what the next phase is. And it was interesting in talking to some of my colleagues at the show, it's almost a truism that the GSM, the overall mobile industry suffers through a disappointing G on the odd numbers and really gets it right on the even numbers. So pulling that forward would be -- the way to think about that would be 5G sort of didn't get us all the way there. Now 6G will ultimately deliver on what were the early promises of 5G.

Eric Hanselman

But that says, maybe we've got to wait until 6G for all of the whiz-bang stuff.

Brian Partridge

Yes.

Eric Hanselman

I mean there was certainly no shortage of at least impetus to try and do more, you mentioned APIs. And I think that's one of those things. We're looking at new consumption models and trying to figure out how do we take a lot of what's there in the network, make it available and potentially monetizable. And that's -- it's opening up the network to a developer community that we've seen M&A activity that was driving some of this, Ericsson's acquisition of Vonage to get some of that access to API expertise and consumability. The question, though, is whether or not we're going to make that step in the network, if you look at things like communication platform as a service. [indiscernible] so I'm just recently talking about CPaaS and CCaaS kinds of things.

Those are basic functions. There's something that -- there's an understanding that this is something that you can consume as a function to and of itself. What we're talking about now extending that API functionality into environments where you're now consuming network capabilities, things like quality on demand. And those are areas in which allowing programmatic control of the way the network operates has been a sensitive area for the network operators themselves because they've always been a little hesitant to open up that level of control, but yet that's a path to monetization that might generate new revenue streams for them. So it seems like they're really balancing that question.

Brian Partridge

Yes. I think, Eric, the disaggregation of the network, then moving on to open platforms, et cetera, the API-ifiction of the network. I think all those things are happening, but the jump to monetization is really, really challenging, remains so. It's an industry that does its best-selling pipes and trying to manage ARPU to move into sort of an API-driven consumption and economic mode is a big leap. It's something that the IT industry does extraordinarily well, and you see it moving from OpEx to -- CapEx to OpEx to outcomes even these days.

For the telecom industry, it's a big jump, and they're always faced with over-the-top challenges, whether it be in the consumer market or even in the enterprise market where things could be done over their network, cutting them out or at least making them secondary players, and it's a challenge they're facing as they move from 5 to 5.5G to 6G as they start looking at network slicing and other kinds of opportunities to be in the monetization stream is where they want to live, right? But it's just not the way that they're used to doing business or really very good at doing business. So that's going to be, again, a big challenge.

Rich Karpinski

They're sensitized to this because they're -- one of the big complaints about the whole transition to the digital capabilities of 4G was that they missed out on the over-the-top communications market. And they desperately were clinging on to text messaging, SMS kind of technologies. And yet they got all these providers that leaped up over-the-top and built services on top of them and captured all the additional value at that high level of abstraction, where the abstraction is where the value is and so they vowed that they're not going to have that OTT problem again and yet they're still not jumping in with the...

Eric Hanselman

There's a lot of hurdles to get over here. I think the whole open API and open gateway opportunity and challenge, quite frankly, needs to be unpacked, maybe in the different buckets. So a lot of focus is on those quality of service, turbo lanes and so forth, where it's really quite a leap to think about how developers are going to get from a place where they really developed around the network to a place where they're consuming APIs that need to be paid for to get premium service. But there are other things happening around SIM swap, number...

Rich Karpinski

The security piece, location. Yes, those are the things that seem like there's real traction, but those are identify -- and we can dive in them but identify that the challenge is that those are things that are just having the network provide information not control. But you're saying SIM swap, location, those are things that are...

Eric Hanselman

And it's a capability that is in the network, can be abstracted potentially with the help of some partners that really play a developer game well. Your hyperscalers and so forth providing a platform and a meeting point and even in Vonage for that matter. And so you can really see that. Now the challenge there is that there are alternatives. It's not like there's no competition, but there is competition. So you're in a competitive marketplace and you have to. There's dominoes that need to fall relative to those network investments we talked about. And you need to have a certain amount of investment in your core to be able to expose these things. So there's a bit of chicken and egg. And then ultimately, we don't know exactly how much gold is in the hills.

Rich and I, I think we worked on some work, maybe 7 years ago when we were talking about telecom data as a service. And at the time, we're saying, yes, there's a good opportunity here. But can the telcos get over the cultural inertia and their lack of real understanding and skill in this marketplace to create any sort of revenue scale. So it remains to be seen. We have seen this movie before. What's different, though, is potentially the tech platforms have become modern, and you've got additional actors in the mix here when we think about hyperscalers and even what Vonage brings to the table, that ultimately, I think, can help tackle that skills and inertia challenge maybe head on.

Rich Karpinski

Well, we've got at least some promising developments. So there's an API standards community, CAMARA that is looking to at least standardize the API environment so that if you're a developer, you have one standardized interface to be able to work through an API to be able to request this, but we still need to have someone who aggregates that information because if you have to ask each of the individual operators with things like location and the location process is pretty straightforward as it's privacy aware, there are a lot of good things. If you're in an application that wants to validate, you can do something really straightforward, like say, "Hey, is the calling party in this location?", and the network then gets to come back and tell you yes or no. And -- but the problem is if you've got to go to Verizon, Telefonica, Orange, each one of them individually to make those requests depending upon where the caller happens to be that from an application developer's perspective is a real pain.

Brian Partridge

It's a nonstarter.

Rich Karpinski

You got to have an aggregator. Yes, you got to have somebody who aggregates that and granted, we've now got a couple of players who say they're going to be the aggregator for this. Seems far from settled in my mind.

Brian Partridge

Yes. We saw some -- I saw some interesting developments in that area, the IoT area, right? So the IoT market, which is both everywhere and nowhere, right? So I mean, the data coming off all of these endpoints is driving things like AI and a lot of the applications. But at the same time, the market from a revenue perspective around connectivity is still relatively small. And it's real challenged by the regionality, as you were describing, Eric, right?

And so was talking to some relatively smaller IoT providers at the show and they're starting to be able to take advantage of sort of this disaggregation of the network and build their own distributed core platforms, right? So cores around the world, network cores around the world can work with different operators, or they can basically build an overlay, an intelligent overlay network for IoT, so you can get a consistent connectivity. You can get some consistent network QoS and sort of APIs, et cetera. So this whole IT-ification and cloudification of the entire network could help solve some of those problems, but it's going to need some new entities to come in and be creative about how they take advantage of all of these -- the new way the more intelligent network operates.

Eric Hanselman

Well, if we think about who drops into that, I mean, I guess, many of the operators think they have a role, but I mean, I look at -- and again, we've been talking about the challenges in getting 5G to a point at which it's able to get to this high level of functionality. And I'll call out the fact that we're still at a point at which a lot of the networks, a lot of deployed networks still are in this hybrid mode of what's called 5G non-standalone, which is that they're -- they've got 4G components at the core and the switching, they've got 5G radios that getting to the 5G stand-alone, which is the real full 5G everywhere all of the benefits of what 5G has, even as it stands today, still has yet to be realized. Now granted, I think most operators are getting there. But again, one more thing that they've got to cover in terms of actually delivering on a lot of the promise of 5G.

Brian Partridge

Yes, it's true. I mean I think the macroeconomic environment and things like inflation were pretty serious headwinds in terms of seeing that next phase of investment into SA, which as you mentioned, brings you all of that sort of cloud-native agility stuff in terms of network slicing, but it still continues to come back to the monetization question and really the lack of the killer applications for which all of that new capability can be easily applied to put into a business model and where the ROI is obvious. I'd say the industry on a whole is still finding its way around those things.

Rich Karpinski

And I'll give you another example of the challenges around getting the whole 5G network rolled out, right, rather than non-stand-alone. So this idea of having a stand-alone network is available to support in the IoT area, what they call RedCap, or reduced capability IoT. So around 100 megabits rather than full 5G or a 1 megabit for sort of LPWAN. So it's a nice sweet spot. But to get that rolled out globally is a massive challenge. And then there's the cart before the horse challenge of there are just our new devices. And 2024, we are supposed to begin seeing RedCap devices. At the show, they were very much missing. I was at a large network equipment manufacturer who was showing fixed wireless RedCap devices, which is exactly not what this capability was thought to support, right? So you've got some cameras, you've got fixed -- but you don't have the mainstream RedCap devices that would go into industry and really drive that sort of IoT deployment. And again, it's challenging to roll the network out.

It's challenging to get the chip sets in place and the modules and then the devices themselves. It's just a long time to get this kind of stuff off the ground.

Eric Hanselman

Well, I'll also make the comment about sort of where we are from a semiconductor side, and we are seeing 5G modem costs drop. And it sort of raises the question of, I don't know, do you think we start to skip over Redcap because devices are functional enough. I mean one of the big benefits is that it's reduced power consumption, you now start to be able to look at battery-powered devices. But I guess that was one of the things that I came away with was sort of the question of, well, not so if we can actually get to full 5G in low cost, low power implementations, maybe we don't need it or I don't know.

Rich Karpinski

Yes, I think that's one of the challenges of having a long lead time, decades long development cycle, right? And when you start moving from being a telco to a techco, right, it's not the same cycles. And so the best laid plan sometimes gets disrupted by things you don't even see coming. And so I think that's something that operators are going to be facing where they've got these long-term plans and then someone comes in and disrupts with battery-less connectivity or as you were describing some of the things that could come in. And you're on a plan to move a network very slowly, in very large fashion over a long period of time where everything else is moving very quickly, iteratively. So I think that's in and of itself a major challenge.

Eric Hanselman

Hey, I'll call out battery-less that if we're thinking about cool things, the idea that you could look at Ambient Energy to go power sensors, that certainly was up there in my list of interesting stuff that we saw at the show, making this transition to what has been a strong shift to wireless capabilities and now taking it to that next stage of actually moving it into self-harvesting energy environments that I thought was pretty nifty.

Rich Karpinski

Yes. It's definitely something that I've seen coming out of some startups and some of the larger manufacturers starting to think about it. And it's -- along with satellite, which is another sort of game changer potentially, I'll talk a lot about IoT, right? So cellular hybrid satellite networks are really interesting. Battery-less sensors are very interesting. Again, it's those kinds of things that can sort of shift the game from what we think it's going to be into something else completely. And again, the operators need to be watching that very carefully or else get leapfrogged and not be able to come along with those larger trends.

Eric Hanselman

And of course, the biggest leapfrog or hot technology, however you want to label it, overhyped concept, generative AI, which was, of course, all over.

Brian Partridge

It really was. And we should get a prize for waiting 20 minutes to bring this up because it really was. Probably the first thing we should talk about because it was everywhere. And Rich and I were talking at the show, and we actually were saying it was impressive the way the entire industry has mobilized to the opportunity and thinking about and actually getting beyond thinking about but productizing and beginning to commercialize real capability. And so a lot of people talk about the hype here. I wonder if it's not hyped enough. And -- because as we know, the telecom sector is a place that is starving for digital reinvention, it's starving for efficiency, especially given what the situation is on the top line. It's starting for new revenue opportunities, which, in theory, anyway, could be very well augmented with some AI capability.

So I actually wonder if it's -- the hype is probably aligned with the opportunity. Now the other side of this coin though is we know how "fast" telecom industry moves. It doesn't move fast. It moves at a glacial pace, in fact. And this technology is going to require new acumen, new capabilities around -- I mean, data is the currency for AI outcomes. Telecom sit on mountains of data. The problem is those mountains of data tend to be vertical. They tend to be siloed. The people that own the data tend to not get along with one another, and they've walled off different governance requirements. And really, in order to unlock that, you really need to take a completely different approach to how you're structuring your data, how you're sharing your data, provisioning your data, exposing your data. So there's a lot of change here that's required in order to get to the good stuff, which is you've got network, you've got IT, you've got service capabilities.

You've got customer experience. You have all of these things and areas, just like every CEO in every business is taking a top-down look, "Hey, where should I be applying this? Where is the low-hanging fruit? Where is the tougher stuff that I need to get my sleeves rolled up and dig into." I mean there is that in droves. And so the suppliers, your IBMs of the world, even your Nokias and Ericssons recognize the opportunity. However, it's like, okay, how do I understand which of my customers are actually in a position to be able to move quickly who is going to be kicking tires and really not in a position based on their own structure to do anything of import. And therefore, they may be able to do some co-piloting, but they're just not going to be on that journey as a creator of things yet and where is everybody else along those continuums. And I think that's what the hard part of this is going to be. But those that get it right are going to be the winners. They're going to be the operators that capture the profit in this industry.

Eric Hanselman

I mean that seems to be the challenge, right, though, it's you got to get good enough at it. And as you're pointing out, this hasn't been an area that the telecom world has often been good at. So I guess I wonder whether or not the -- is this more a disruptive for us than it is a transformational force. And I guess we see some of the early use cases, clearly, customer service applications where you now start to get more efficient, more effective in terms of how you deal with customers, getting access to data, you're troubleshooting problems. But that next stage in which you're actually leveraging capabilities to take a look at that data in more detail, sounds like they still got some hurdles to get over.

Rich Karpinski

Yes, I do think the level of disruption we've talked about today, though will end up being a transformative amount of change, right? So I think there are going to be winners and losers. They're going to look different than they have in the past from a telco point of view. It may not be as regional as we talked about in the IoT area, we're seeing some spinouts and some other things. We're seeing investment being able to flow because of that into these spin-offs because of just everything is working on the same sorts of platforms driven by cloud and Open Data and now we're talking about AI.

And so I think the dynamics of what makes a winner or a loser, how those winners build a sort of business model, the things that we've been seeing coming from a platform point of view for quite a long time are here now, and we may be entering a moment of real change in the industry, again, in ways that may not be obvious at first glance. So if we come back in a year, I think we may see surprising things in terms of the structure of the industry, who's partnered with who and who is raising their hand as really having some success in this new world.

Brian Partridge

I think you're right, Rich. Someone asked me at the show, what do I want to see next year. I want to see material progress in addressing some of what Rich is talking about in some of the what I was talking about. What are the economics here around adopting this? And what are some of the other pieces that people aren't talking about like the sustainability impact of running a bunch of large language models all over the place. Bringing under a spotlight, what has been very murky and given either opaqueness on the business model or just a lack of maturity in some of these places. So yes, absolutely generative AI and sort of legacy AI, if we want to call it that, but the open APIs, the private networks, the open RAN pieces where I would say -- and I would like to get your perspective on this, Eric, I think we saw incremental progress on Open RAN.

And I would characterize the progress driven by a couple of things. One is the fact that there was an awful lot of discussion around the Ericsson and AT&T deal and what that looks like and sort of whether that, in fact, is open RAN or not by the academic definition or by the O-RAN ALLIANCE definition. But what we do know is that AT&T is requiring Ericsson to open its interfaces in order to support alternative radio vendors according to what we saw in the booth. It looks like they've done so. But what's going to be the real economic driver to get there? Because what we heard is the silicon has finally gotten to a place where performance parity is not going to be the thing that stops it. Then the question is, well, what about energy efficiency? And what about the overall complexity to get these systems out the door. So getting a little bit more clarity around that was -- is going to be a great outcome if we can get there for next year.

Eric Hanselman

Yes. And actually, that's a good point, Brian. I think you raised that as something of a model for the level of maturity that the operators are getting towards and virtualizing the radio access network has sort of been that holy grail. They want to get there so that they can then start to mix and match all of the various componentry that's out there and open RAN is sort of the ultimate. But my take is the same, which is that I think there is a desire for openness. They want the competition that can bring. But yet, in many cases, they're not ready to take on -- the operator is not ready to take on that -- the integrated role of being the one who's going to take all of these competing vendors and make sure they all play well together. And at the same time, it's the whole process of virtualization. You got to get good at the automation and the capabilities there. You've got to be able to get sufficiently good at the operational and technological underpinnings. You got to go cloud native and we're not yet there for most of the operators.

Brian Partridge

But we have to tip the cap, there is an ecosystem that's come around here. I do think it's becoming less a concern about the performance parity, which has always been the biggest impediment to open systems. "Hey, I can't get performance parity with an integrated system. So why are we even at the table?" I think we're getting there. I think the Dells, the HPs, the Lenovos of the world have solid platforms to run these workloads. But you're right, it comes down to who is my point of integration on these services? Is it my own team, am I outsourcing that to somebody else? And if I'm outsourcing it to somebody else, what advantage have I gained, especially if I'm going with a "single source open solution", am I just playing a public relations game with the choices I'm making or do I really want to try to derive benefit here. So I think, again, we're at a place where we're starting to get to see more scale in the initial deployments, and we're going to learn very quickly what those outcomes look like once we've got a year under our belt with them.

Rich Karpinski

Yes. And I think some of the things you don't see are almost more interesting, right? So the cloud RAN and the cloudification of the network is a massive undertaking, right? So it's moving slowly, really challenging, a lot of market dynamics. We saw some really interesting demos in the telco back office, so with operational systems that have also been moved on to standard platforms and consolidated off of proprietary systems.

And now that those are like that, they can go out and it's who knew this was going to be coming, right? They can go out and tap large language models and almost instantly create a conversational interface into operating and deploying and securing the network, which is an entirely new way of doing business on the back office for the telco that they could almost deploy in a snap, right, because they're starting to move along a different less proprietary trend line in terms of their technology. So that's an interesting sort of proof point that this can happen and may be happening slower on the network side of the interfaces, but just a ton of potential.

Eric Hanselman

Yes. You've got the cloud hyperscalers out there, providing cloud-based AI capabilities that are now looking at call content for security reasons, there is enhanced security. Yes, there's a lot that's in play there.

Brian Partridge

Yes, we saw one of those Eric, I think we're all at the same meeting, right? And I won't name who it was, but it was one of these hyperscalers who is using a language model in real time to evaluate a call stream so the media in real time to detect, whether it's a scam call. And I think all of us in our personal network, someplace, have somebody that's actually fallen victim to one of these, a telephonic scam. And so it's -- this service is able to detect that and then take some action, whether it's sort of texting you on another number or even breaking right into the call to talk about it to sort of warn you that, hey, did we think this might be a scam. You can see a lot of good in that. Now whether we can get through regulation and privacy and opt-ins and so forth is maybe another set of questions. But what this vendor was telling us is that, in fact, the regulatory bodies who control that -- those decisions, in fact, are leaning into this type of solution because it becomes such a scourge on society that a lot of our older generations and even younger generations fall victim to these scams.

Rich Karpinski

And it's a lot about appetite for risk. That's a great example, right? So the telco becomes in line in those conversations, which they already are, but they have to collect the data, apply an AI against everyone's conversations, which starts to sound a little scary even if it's anonymized, right? So Brian was mentioning earlier, we were doing work in location base in data as a service for telcos. And they were big into it and they got scared off not because it was illegal, but it was just risky. It was a public relations challenge. So that's not something that happens to the AWSs and Googles of the world. They're not afraid to put themselves out over their skis a bit. And so almost it's going to be as much a cultural thing as a technology thing to see if the operators can really have the courage to move forward with these kinds of services ahead of what maybe society is ready for the customers are ready for them.

Brian Partridge

Rich, we probably contend that you actually have to be able to get there if you really think you're on a journey from telco to Techno. Well, if you're on that journey, then you better best understand what those behaviors look like in terms of risk management and sort of how they behave as an organization.

Rich Karpinski

Yes. Somebody is going to do it, why not them, right?

Eric Hanselman

Well, that does seem to be the eternal question and one that we keep asking over and over. Well, I guess, we'll have to see where this pans out. And maybe we get back together a little further down the year and see what actually come to fruition and what has not. I appreciate all of the inputs from you both. Well, let's see what else comes up. And I will point our listeners to our research stream, where we'll be coming a lot of the things we've been talking about today. So thank you both for being back.

Brian Partridge

Eric, thank you. Thanks for having me. We'll talk again soon.

Rich Karpinski

Yes. Thanks, Eric. Really enjoyed it. Appreciate it.

Eric Hanselman

And certainly, much more to discuss. But that is it for this episode of Next in Tech. Thanks to our audience for staying with us. And thanks to our production team, including Caroline Wright and Kaitlin Buckley on the marketing and events teams and our agency partner, the One Nine Nine. I hope you'll join us for our next episode where we're going to be starting off talking about generative AI. Looking at AI use cases. I hope you'll join us then because there is always something Next in Tech.

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