The ITW 2020 conference was held in June.  As to be expected, it was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  SubCableWorld was there and will begin a series of reports on the presentations made during the event. 

This summary will cover the ITW 2020 panel discussion entitled “Connectivity in APAC.”  The panel included:

  • Moderator: Mohit Gidwani, Partner – TMT Practice, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
  • Robert Jones, CEO and founder of Bluefire
  • Kat Luna Abelarde, CEO of PLDT Global
  • Oliver Jones, Chief Executive, Chayora

We will focus on two of the major topics of the panel discussion.  One looks at the present with the impact COVID-19 is having on bandwidth demand; while the other looks into the future of how Esports will change the marketplace. 

Regarding the present and COVID-19’s impact, Oliver Jones said, “Business as usual ceased to exist about two-and-a-half months ago and the new business as usual is what we’re grappling with today.” 

He noted that having people work at home has led to huge capacity changes.  Cloud providers are talking of 10-50 times capacity increases being deployed to deal with the spike and to make sure the systems do not go down. 

“What we’re going to see in the new normal is a scramble over the course of the next six months as we anticipate secondary and tertiary waves of COVID-19 that will be coming through to make sure that customer organizations and infrastructure organizations don’t get caught short on capacity,” he continued. 

Kat Luna Abelarde noted that even before the pandemic, international connectivity in Asia was already growing by 50% CAGR over the previous five years.  As the impact of the pandemic grew in the spring of 2020, she noted a cultural shift that allowed telcos to really step up to meet the challenges the pandemic presented. 

“There was a collaboration not just between telcos but also other stakeholders within the telecom ecosystem,” she said.  “Things were getting approved faster, rollouts were quicker.  There was a lot of collaboration with the public sector.” 

Oliver Jones also noted another development during the pandemic, one that could be easily overlooked, that demonstrated the strength of the network. 

“There have been very, very few reported system failures,” he said.  “The apparent ease in which we transitioned is profound.  The fundamentals of the digital infrastructure world have performed extremely well under unparalleled pressure.  We haven’t seen health systems go down.  We haven’t seen banking systems go down.  We haven’t seen e-commerce systems go down.  That’s rather remarkable.” 

When looking into the future, the panelists pointed to impact Esports will have on the network. 

Esports is going to be huge,” said Kat Luna Abelarde.  “It’s been estimated that in ten years, there will be more investment in Esports than in traditional sports.” 

Robert Jones noted how 5G will bring Esports into the mainstream. 

“We have massive multiplayer games coming to the 5G networks that we’re building,” he said.  “I think, for the first time, we’re on the cusp of mass market reality for Esports with the new networks we’re building.” 

“Initially it was more difficult to stream content on demand than to broadcast, but that problem has been solved and now I think it’s pretty easy, relatively speaking,” he continued.  “The next problem is how do you handle millions of concurrent users all with very, very high bandwidth, low latency.  And how do you handle all of them simultaneously, when the communication is two-way, latency dependent, and the difference of a few mini-seconds means the experience is good or bad.”