June 27, 2012

Forbes.com

A Venerable Internet Technology May Offer Some Relief for Carrier Woes

Since the spring, a select group of broadband subscribers in Argentina has been getting a very special treat: super-fast Internet.

The promotion is an effort by Cablevision Argentina to persuade customers to upgrade their service, and so far it’s been unusually effective. According to Marcelo Baletti, head of digital services at Cablevision, nearly 90 percent of customers who received an invitation to upgrade have responded to it.

The success of the Cablevision test has significant implications for the world’s biggest telecom companies  who are struggling to cope with the double whammy of rising capital costs and the erosion of traditional revenue sources such as voice and SMS messages. In response, companies like AT&T and Verizon are trying get customers to pony up for faster Internet speeds and more data.  But Cablevision’s experience shows there may be more innovative approaches.

“The challenge for the carriers is how do you deliver a differentiated service at a low price point, while still remaining agile,” said Gary Messiana, chief executive officer of Nominum, which is providing the network infrastructure behind Cablevision’s new service.

Messiana suggests that one way carriers can differentiate themselves is by building apps that offer their customers greater choice and more control over their Internet experience. In the past, this has been both a technical and business challenge, requiring hard-to-find expertise and coordination between different groups inside a carrier. But building apps on a new network architecture, such as Nominum’s, can make it easier.

In addition to letting customers try out promotions such as faster broadband, Cablevision is also using Nominum’s technology to prevent fraudulent connections to their network and to dramatically reduce the number of customers whose machines have been taken over by online criminals.

At the core of Cablevision’s new capabilities is the Domain Name System, or DNS, one of the Internet’s oldest technologies. For more than a decade, providing commercial-grade implementations of DNS to carriers and service providers has been Nominum’s bread and butter.

DNS is often compared to a phone book. Traditionally, its main purpose has been to translate domain names like www.yummycupcakes.com that humans can remember to machine-readable IP addresses like 72.2.233.170.  But Nominum has always had a bigger vision for the technology.

By Elise Ackerman, Forbes Contributor
To read the full article, visit:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/eliseackerman/2012/06/27/a-venerable-internet-technology-may-offer-some-relief-for-carrier-woes/2/