The telecoms industry has the technology and new network architectures at its disposal to create the network of the future, but ultimately it will all come down to whether or not telcos are willing to invest to make it happen, Alcatel-Lucent's corporate chief technology officer Marcus Weldon said on Tuesday.
"The problem in front of us is not technology, but confidence and ambition," Weldon told delegates at this year's Broadband World Forum.
"The technologies are within our grasp. The architectures are within our grasp," he said. "It's really a question of choice and the economic reality."
Weldon outlined the vision of a future in which the capacity crunch created by myriad wireless devices is solved with small cells backhauled by wireline, of software-defined networking, virtualised network functions, and ubiquitous connectivity to the cloud.
"This doesn't have an Ethernet port," he declared, waving his iPad in front of the audience.
I too am working from a device with no Ethernet port and little storage capacity, designed with cloud connectivity in mind. This is proving to be a problem given that the WiFi connectivity on the exhibition floor at BBWF ranges from very poor to non-existent. The market is certainly nowhere close to ubiquitous connectivity yet.
But according to Weldon, we all have a role to play in convincing network operators to invest in connectivity. Consumers need to persuade telcos that it "is something we want," while there is a place for the regulators to step in too, he said. "We have to get the Web mentality of trying and failing…and succeeding periodically," he added.
"Can we afford to do this?" Weldon asked, before following up with the answer: "Well, yes."
It is possible for network operators to maintain profitability but offer more, he insisted.