Communications is about personalized experience: Greg Mumford, Nortel CTO

A few days before Red Herring shut down, I interviewed Greg Mumford, chief technology officer of Nortel Networks. We discussed the future of the networks and how the future is going to unfold. Here are some excerpts from that interview. I am sure you will enjoy reading this interview.

OM: What is the killer app of the future?
GM: I think the killer app is the (packetized) voice combined with high quality multimedia over broadband.

OM: What were the three key technologies of the past ten years?
GM: Optical networking, wireless and browser were three key technologies. Optical took the distance out of the long distance business and reduced the long haul costs to barely five percent of what they were ten years ago.

OM: How do you see the communications infrastructure evolving over next ten years?
GM: In the future the communications infrastructure is going to be about “personalized experience.”? It won’t be just voice and data specific. It a knowledge society where people collaborate, communications will be the marriage of high quality multimedia, voice and all enabled by broadband.

OM: So networks are going to become more human?
GM: The network today treats me as a fixed part of the network. I think the network in the future would be intelligent enough to see me as a person. The messaging and communications technologies will allow us to take our office environment with us. I think the compute architecture is going to change. There will be much more storage and network in the new model.

OM: Sounds complicated
GM: You definitely need a simpler interface for the user.

OM: So does that mean we need to get over the behavioral problems of technology. We think of computing as sitting in front of a screen with a keyboard?

GM: Voice recognition is going to get rid of the keyboard and the computer will be in the background. And clearly the handheld devices will get more powerful. More specialized as well.

OM: For instance?
GM: Say I am a real estate broker. My hand held device will be my tool of the trade. It will allow me to take videos and pictures and send them to clients because that is part of my business. And there will be phone and messaging. It will be tailored to my lifestyle.

OM: So what are your predictions for technology in the future?
GM: Personalized networks, cheaper optics and cheaper wireless. I think when wireless is cheaper it is a viable option for the local loop.

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