Martin Geddes

Martin Geddes

Founder, Martin Geddes Consulting Ltd
Joined on January 15, 2004 – United Kingdom
Total Post Views: 293,294


Martin Geddes is a thought leader in new business models in telecoms, IT and media. He provides consulting, training and innovation services to telcos, equipment vendors, cloud services providers and industry bodies. His specialisms are in new multi-sided market business models, voice and messaging innovation, and cloud communications. For more information see

He has previously held the positions of Strategy Director at BT, and Chief Analyst at Telco 2.0, which he co-founded. He was also a technology specialist at Sprint in Overland Park, KS, and is named on 8 granted patents. Prior to entering telecoms, Martin built large transactional systems at Oracle Corporation.

Featured Blogs

Why Don't We Have Peak and Off-Peak Pricing for Broadband?

I saw a poster on the London Underground yesterday, and as is often the case it got me thinking about the parallels with telecoms. The poster explains the peak and off-peak fare structure for tube travel. The purpose of this pricing system is to manage the relationship between supply and demand in a system that is capacity constrained. Over short and medium timescales the supply is essentially fixed, and demand can oversaturate that supply. more»

The IETF's Job Is Complete - Should It Now Scale Up, Down or Out?

My assertion is that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an institution whose remit is coming to a natural end. This is the result of spectacular success, not failure. However, continuing along the present path risks turning that success into a serious act of wrongdoing. This will leave a social and political legacy that will tarnish the collaborative technical achievements that have been accumulated thus far. more»

The Future of Networking (In One Slide)

I recently ran a workshop in Asia and to guide attendees through the content; I put together an overview slide which you might also find of interest and use. It is a description of the quality attenuation framework, originally developed and defined by Predictable Network Solutions Ltd, and documented and extended by myself and colleagues at Just Right Networks Ltd. more»

Let's Face Facts: We Need a New Industrial Internet

The Internet is a great success and an abject failure. We need a new and better one. Let me explain why. We are about to enter an era when online services are about to become embedded into pretty much every activity in life. We will become extremely dependent on the safe and secure functioning of the underlying infrastructure. Whole new industries are waiting to be born as intelligent machines, widespread robotics, and miniaturized sensors are everywhere. more»

If Slate Comes in Standard Sizes, Why Not Broadband?

Last week I was at the National Slate Museum in Wales watching slate being split apart. On the wall were sample pieces of all the standard sizes. These have cute names like "princess". For each size, there were three standard qualities: the thinnest are the highest quality (at 5mm in thickness), and the thickest have the lowest quality (those of 13mm or more). Obviously, a lighter slate costs less to transport and lets you roof a wider span and with less supporting wood, hence is worth more. more»

Where is the Standard 'Socket' for Broadband?

When you plug into a broadband socket, what you are accessing is a distributed computing service that supplies information exchange. What is the service description and interface definition? For inspiration, we can look at the UK power plug. One of the great unsung fit-for-purpose innovations in British society is the BS1363 13 ampere power plug and socket. This is superior to other plugs by virtue of its solid construction and safe design. more»

The Internet Needs a Security and Performance Upgrade

Many of you will have seen news stories that explained what was going on: a huge DDoS attack on the infrastructure of Dyn had taken down access to many large websites like Twitter. A great deal of digital ink has since been spilled in the mainstream press on the insecurity of the Internet of Things, as a botnet of webcams was being used. Here are some additional issues that might get missed in the resulting discussion. more»

The Great Telco Quality Transformation

The telecoms industry has two fundamental issues whose resolution is a multi-decade business and technology transformation effort. This re-engineering programme turns the current "quantities with quality" model into a "quantities of quality" one. Those who prosper will have to overcome a powerfully entrenched incumbent "bandwidth" paradigm, whereby incentives are initially strongly against investing in the inevitable and irresistible future. more»

The Lean and Antifragile Data Centre

Cloud is a new technology domain, and data centre engineering is still a developing discipline. I have interviewed a top expert in cloud infrastructure, Pete Cladingbowl. He has a vision of the 'lean' data centre and a better kind of Internet for users to reach it. He also has a roadmap for how these can be practically realised. The key is to apply established theories of value flow from more mature industries. more»

Hyperties: "Travel Adaptors" for the Cloud?

I have spent the day here in Berlin attending my second advisory board meeting for the EU research project reTHINK. I'm chewing over what I learnt about the possible future of the telecoms and cloud industry. There has been a decades-long tussle between the communications and computing parts of the ICT industry. Both sides wish to exert power over the digital economy. Sometimes this tussle works for the common good, sometimes not. more»

"Non-Discriminatory" Broadband: Just Carriage, or Miscarriage of Justice?

The foundational idea behind "net neutrality" is one of fairness by constraining ISP power over network mechanisms. The theory is this: if there is "non-discriminatory" local traffic management, then you have "fair" global outcomes to both users and application providers. There are thousands of pages of academic books making this assumption, and it is the basis of recent EU telecoms law. more»

New Revenue Models for the 'Software Telco'

I was recently asked how telcos might come up with new business models for a world where all resources are under software control. The core idea is to match network supply and demand in space and time (and at all timescales). I've typed up my notes for the curious to critique...Today's telco is more like a static utility 'pipe', the way that gas, electric or oil are delivered. It sells direct access to raw network mechanisms, and users buy circuits that offer a fixed bandwidth in space and time. more»

Why Broadband Speed Tests Suck

Everyone is familiar with broadband 'speed test' applications. When you have an ISP service quality problem, it is common to grab one of these tools to see if you are getting the service you feel you are entitled to get. Whenever you upgrade your broadband, the first thing you might do is to run a speed test. Then you can show off to your mates how superior your blazing fast service is compared to their pitiful product. more»

The Strange Structure of ISP Service Semantics

I have been having a number of conversations recently with several clients and colleagues about "semantics". It's clear that there is not a lot of clarity on this philosophical subject! Whilst is may be an obscure issue, it is a very important one. Our ideas lead us to take actions, and if we want those actions to have the consequences we had in mind, then we need to have done our epistemological homework. more»

Why You Should Demand 'Net Morality' Instead of 'Net Neutrality'

I have come to the conclusion that "net neutrality" is an ethical issue at heart, one about the appropriate constraint of unfair ISP power. Some people are (I pray unintentionally) on the wrong side of a now-clear moral divide. They are claiming to prevent harmful abuse of power, when in reality their actions create fresh harm. A central issue is one of technical competence to comment. If your beliefs are disconnected from how the world works, you cannot evaluate whether you are espousing something sensible or silly. more»

Welcome to Notflix! Your Streaming-Free ISP with the Best Quality of Experience!

It has been widely taken as "obvious" that a "no blocking" rule for ISPs is a good regulatory policy. Is this really the case? Does it save consumers from harm... or cause harm? Netflix has reached the point of being well over 30% of Internet traffic at peak time for some ISPs. This places three costs on the ISP and its users... So for someone who isn't a streaming video user, they are paying a share of the direct costs. more»

Mobile Is Not Everything (and That's OK)

As I type these words, I am perched on one of the benches in the main thoroughfare of the cavernous venue hosting Mobile World Congress (MWC). Above me is a video screen warning me of the perils of the infamous local pickpockets, so I know I'm definitely in Barcelona! In its current form, MWC has been the mainstay event of the telecoms business for a decade, and its roots go back to the late 1980s. The slogan of this year's event is "Mobile is Everything". I believe this phrase is a symptom of an industry suffering from dangerous strategic drift. Here's why. more»

Beyond 'Neutrality': How to Reconnect Policy to Reality?

I have some bad news: the published literature on 'net neutrality' fails to grasp the stochastic nature of broadband and its implications. This means that the relationship of traffic management to QoE is universally misunderstood and/or misrepresented. As a result the whole policy process is being placed into opposition with nature! Nature isn't changing to accommodate the policy process. So the policy process has to change. more»

Why SDN is Not Enough

A hot topic in telecoms at the moment is 'software-defined networking' (SDN). This term covers a range of technologies that put networks under the control of centralised management software. But what if SDN misses the point of why broadband networks exist in the first place? Network equipment vendors are busy pushing operator CTOs to adopt a 'software telco' approach. A small army of analysts and consultants cheer this process on. more»

Busting 3 Popular and Misleading Terms in Telecom

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language." (-Ludwig Wittgenstein) The words we use to describe telecoms networks often contain hidden metaphors and meanings that lead us into wrong thinking. Here are three examples... Why misleading? The word "best" implies both benevolent and optimal intentionality: the network is going to do the "right" thing for its users, and it will maximise the "rightness" in some way. more»

Are Telcos Becoming Slum Landlords?

In the 1950s and 60s, large numbers of immigrants came to London from the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries. They had few resources, yet needed somewhere to live. Many fell prey to exploitative landlords. These unscrupulous rentiers packed tenants into formerly swanky parts of town, which then became slums. This process even birthed a new word in British English - "Rachmanism" - to define the archetypal unethical treatment as practised by one notorious landlord. more»

The Real Reason Why Network 'Neutrality' Is Impossible

In "Net Neutrality: Discrimination, Competition, and Innovation in the UK and US", Alissa Cooper and Ian Brown explore the relationship between two broadband regulatory regimes and their practical outcomes. The paper is of (paradoxical) interest as it (unintentionally) demonstrates how policy is being made without sufficient understanding of packet network performance. This paper contains many common fallacies about performance. These fallacies are fuelling misdirected conflicts over broadband regulatory policy. The underlying (false) assumption is that 'neutral' (aka 'non-discriminatory') networks exist. more»

The Appeal Against Broadband Reclassification

A British perspective on a very American process... As a new member of the the "Tech Elders", I was invited to join yesterday's hearing in Washington, DC on the reclassification of broadband Internet access services. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decreed that Internet access should switch from being lightly regulated as an 'information service' (Title I) to a more heavily regulated as 'telecommunications service' (Title II). I'd first like to say that the process and content was a credit to the rule of law in the United States. more»

Did We Build the 'Right' Internet? (An Interview with Prof Andrew Russell)

The longer I have been in the tech industry, the more I have come to appreciate the hidden complexity and subtlety of its past. A book that caught my attention is 'Open Standards and the Digital Age' by Prof Andrew Russell of Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. This important work shines a fresh light on the process that resulted in today's Internet. For me, it places the standard 'triumphant' narrative of the rise of TCP/IP into a more nuanced context. more»

How to Tame Network Complexity

In a previous article, I discussed how telecoms is facing a growing complexity crisis. To resolve this crisis, a new approach is required. Here I explore how that complexity can be tamed... 'Invariants' are things that are meant to be 'true' and stay true over time. Some invariants are imposed upon us by the universe... Others are imposed by people. As engineers, we aim to establish these abstract 'truths' about the system. more»

The Growing Telco Complexity Crisis

The telecoms industry is facing a systemic problem of high operational complexity and excessive cost. We take a look at the root causes, and how to tackle them. Every telco in the world wants to both increase the quality of their customer experience, and also save money by lowering opex and deferring capex. A pervasive industry barrier to achieving this is one of complexity, which exists at many levels. more»

Why Telecoms Regulators Must Ignore 'Lawgeneers'

My attention was drawn recently to the article Europe Is About to Adopt Bad Net Neutrality Rules. Here's How to Fix Them by Barbara van Schewick from Stanford Law School. Much as I would like to spend my morning doing other work, I can see imminent harm that these (and many similar) proposals cause to the public. As a responsible professional and native European, I would like to summarise why it is imperative for EU regulators to ignore these siren calls (if they want to retain their legitimacy). more»

Time to Look Past 'Net Neutrality'. Let's Start a Fresh Post-Neutrality Debate…

Yesterday, as many of you heard, the European Parliament voted to reject the 'net neutrality' fundamentalist amendments to the already flawed proposals they had helped to create. That's the good news. The bad news is that the law that we now have is merely ludicrous, rather than insane. Furthermore, it doesn't properly protect end users, hold ISP feet to the service delivery fire, or truly encourage broadband ecosystem innovation. more»

Matching Apps to Network Access - A Postage and Packaging Problem

A number of conversations have recently converged on a single problem: how to match applications to network access. Let's unpeel this issue... When I was Chief Analyst at Telco 2.0, we proposed there was a significant untapped market opportunity for network operators to bundle together access with content, applications or services. The revenue opportunity is to charge the providers of those services for delivering fit-for-purpose data at bulk wholesale prices. This is the "postage problem"... more»

Bandwidth is Bust - Managing True Fundamental Network Resources, Not Fantasy Ones

I recently shared the idea that there is a new category of network architecture, the Network of Probabilities. This differs from classical circuits (Network of Promises) or best-effort packet data (Network of Possibilities). I personally believe it's the next revolution in telecoms. What's new is that it provides a trading space for allocating contention between flows, and does this with some novel applied mathematics. more»

The Network of Probabilities

At eComm, I interviewed on stage Neil Davies, founder of Predictable Network Solutions. (Disclosure: they are a consulting client, we are working together to commercialise their technology.) The transcript of the interview is up on the eComm blog, titled The Internet is Not a Pipe and Bandwidth is Bad. Neil's achievement is a breakthrough advance in the use of applied mathematics to describe behaviours of statistically multiplexed networks. more»

Is the Web a "Communications Medium"?

I've been having a short Twitter exchange with Paul Downey (@psd), someone who I hold in high intellectual and personal regard. I've made an assertion that has Paul snorting his coffee back up through his nose and into his keyboard: that the Web is not a communications medium. Justifying this claim can't be done in 140 characters. Now, there is a sleight of hand I'm pulling off here. You can build communications media on the Web, but my claim is that the Web itself is not one, and that has subtle but significant consequences. more»

Goo Goo Goggles: 700MHz Spectrum Auction and the U.S. Taxpayers

Scott Cleland claims the open access rules on 700MHz spectrum triggered by Google's bid fleeced the US taxpayer by $7bn. I don't buy it, even as a signed-up fully-paid network neutrality opponent. Firstly, the numbers ignore economics. If the C block was encumbered, that would raise the prices of the A and B blocks. So you need to take a much smaller differential as to the cost of the encumbrance. more»

A Packet of Lies

I've been reading the kerfuffle around Comcast's blocking of various random network protocols with interest. Whilst I remain convinced that blanket "network neutrality" legislation remains just a form of digital gripe water (cures colic for cybernauts), there's clearly a problem. As I previously alluded there's a definite consumer protection issue over what you buy when it says 'Internet' on the tin. So here's tuppence worth of additional input... more»

Frustrations with VoIP Phone Services

I ought to explain why I've suddenly gone cold on VoIP. It's just I've watched my own behaviour. I've grown tired of the inconsistency of PC VoIP calls, and instead I've reverted to using landlines, mobiles and Jajah (for callback). But I'm still using IM to set up many of those calls! The problem isn't unique to any one client - they're all proving unsuitable for business use with clients (which is most of my telephony needs covered). The worst of all seems to be Skype conference calling... more»

Help! This is Not an Emergency

I like the drift of the Pulver/Evslin proposal on emergency communications, and wish there was as vigorous a debate going on over here. I just hope we in the UK aren't jerked out of complacency by some major disaster -- although widespread use of pre-paid cellular means the problem of sunken landlines isn't as acute. Yet I can't help but wonder why the poor public has to wait for a disaster before they're given partial control over how their number maps to different destinations and services. Why can't I get a voicemail service from someone other than my connectivity provider? Why is ENUM hostage to the telcos, whose interest lies in ensuring that new services can only come from them? more»

Disappearing Telephony

I'm just stepping back a minute to think about what Emerging Telephony actually is. You might have seen my earlier musings on the different philosophical underpinnings of "Western" telephony and "Eastern" thought. In an oversimplified nutshell, the Western approach puts the individual in the centre of the universe. The Eastern idea is to put the group in the middle. more»

Would the Real Network Neutrality Please Stand Up?

I'm sure this is something that's been raked over before, but I don't see a common understanding of what 'Net Neutrality' actually is. Despite many of the Internetorati demanding it by law. There appear to be several different camps, which you could paint as "bottom of IP", "middle" and "top". The bottomistas would see enforced Internet Protocol itself as a premature optimisation and violation of the end-to-end principle. Unhappy that you only get IPv4 or IPv6? Still grumpy that you only have IPv4 and not even IPv6? Really miserable that your VoIP packets are staggering under the poisonous load of IPv6 headers? You're a bottomista. more»

Whither DNS?

The Domain Name System is often though of as an integral part of the Internet. Without it, how can you ever locate anything? Well, quite easily, thank you very much. DNS is used implicitly for many services, such as web browsing. It also includes explicit extensions for a few applications such as e-mail. (I'm talking here about DNS the system, not DNS the technology that can be re-purposed to things like ENUM.) But the most notable thing about DNS is its receding importance... more»

URLs: Ontologically Speaking

I was reading David Weinberger's reports on how the New York Times is planning on tackling its "link rot" problem where articles slip behind the pay-wall. Part of their solution appears to be to replace articles with their summaries. As usual, this got me thinking about telephony. Why don't phone calls and callers have URIs or URLs? ...Let's take addressing the endpoints first. Obviously, ENUM is one way of "Internetising" the phone number address space. more»

Why NAT Isn't As Bad As You Thought

Please do sit down. Should the shock cause you to suddenly lose consciousness, I hereby disclaim all responsibility for any subsequent loss or injury. I'm about to defend the anthrax of the Internet: NAT. Network Address Translation is a hack to enable private IP addresses on one side of a router (inside your network) to talk to public IP addresses on the other side (on the Internet, outside your network). It really doesn't matter how it works. The consequence is that unless the router is specifically configured, outsiders can't get in uninvited. So those on the inside can't, by default, act as servers of any service to the outside world. more»

Topic Interests

DNSIPv6PrivacyIP AddressingInternet GovernanceP2PCybersecurityTelecomEnumInternet ProtocolBroadbandWirelessNet NeutralityVoIPDomain NamesICANNMobile InternetAccess ProvidersCensorshipPolicy & RegulationWhite SpaceWebIPTVInternet of ThingsCloud ComputingData CenterDDoSCyberattack

Recent Comments

Popular Posts

Why NAT Isn't As Bad As You Thought

Whither DNS?

URLs: Ontologically Speaking

Would the Real Network Neutrality Please Stand Up?

Help! This is Not an Emergency