From easyMobile to NFV: a tale of virtual networks

More years ago than I care to remember, I journeyed to Nice in France to participate for the first time in what was then called Management World, organised by the Telemanagement Forum. My main reason for going? In all honesty, to hear EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou discuss the business plan behind his easyMobile venture.

Remember easyMobile? It was Stelios's effort to replicate a no-frills business in the mobile market. As we all now know, that venture eventually crashed and burned, but Stelios provided us with some vastly entertaining presentations at the time and sparked a lively debate about the value of no-frills mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), as well as provoking an equally entertaining legal battle with Orange over the right to use…orange.

Management World, now renamed the somewhat snappier TM Forum Live, takes place in Nice again next week and although Stelios is long gone from the telecoms world (at least for now--easyVoiP could still be a distant twinkle in his eye, who knows!) there are still plenty of attractions to entice the telecoms industry observer.

This year the conference is separated into different streams with a major focus on network functions virtualisation (NFV), software defined networks (SDN) and cloud, as well as a number of other key areas. In other words, this year virtualisation and the move towards digital is the name of the game for operators at the event.

A cable summit will also provide some insights into the challenges faced by multi-service operators (MSOs) as they seek to develop new services including mobile. The spirit of Stelios and his MVNO dream will still be reflected by some of the keynote speakers such as Liberty Global and Virgin Media, both of which have fully engaged in the MVNO model to add mobile to their service offerings. Spanish cable operator Ono will also be there, and this company in turn faces a more mobile future as it links up with Vodafone Spain.

Interestingly, Anne Bouverot, the CEO of the GSM Association, is one of the main keynote speakers at the event. Her topic will be 5G and how she sees the future of mobile networks transformation.

FierceWireless:Europe will be at this year's TM Forum Live to provide you with news and discussions about the "business issues relating to how advanced IT can help players innovate more effectively", as the conference agenda says.

TM Forum Live takes place in Nice, France from June 2-4 2014.--Anne