BT technology guru says OTE-DT deal favors both

OTE telecom has an opportunity to modernize and help the Greek economy and society in various ways, while offering Deutsche Telekom the opportunity for further development, says Dr Peter Cochrane, former chief technology officer at British Telecom. In an interview with Kathimerini during his visit to Athens to address the Telecommunications Management Conference, Cochrane commented favorably on the possible entry of DT into OTE’s management. What is your view of OTE’s cooperation with DT? OTE can become an excellent vehicle for Deutsche’s expansion into Eastern Europe. As for OTE itself, the cooperation could bring about the acceleration of the modernization and expansion of its network infrastructure in Greece. This would have immense social benefits in health, education and commerce. What is your general impression of the local market, which, though an EU laggard in broadband penetration, is showing the highest rate of growth? It seems Greece is moving into the future while looking backward. The expansion of broadband Internet is definitely of vital significance and the adjustment to the environment of Web 2.0 is vital beyond any doubt. The good news is that ADSL technology is not the most appropriate. Therefore a benefit in Greece’s case is that it has not spent an awful lot of money on the wrong technology. The drawback, though, is that Greece is not part of the modern world, has missed several opportunities and has many things to do before it obtains some influence in the European Union context. What lies ahead in telecommunications, both for society and for businesses? Telecoms and technology are the future. Insufficient technology means insufficient networking, which means insufficient entrepreneurship. Without a good enough infrastructure, Greece will not be able to participate in the global market and this will have an immediate impact on a below-average gross domestic product and a shrinking population. What is the main threat which telecom service providers face in today’s industry? The greatest threat in the telecoms sector is the very sector of telecoms! Its inability to break free of the old-network mentality combined with the obsolete business models that are 100 years old form a barrier that often makes telecom corporations seem disabled by their own inactivity. Besides the existing business practices and models, there often are some limitations related to labor issues, state intervention, regulating authority competences and competition rules. These are all factors that create a barrier to any real development. Do you believe that convergence and dominant positioning in the telecoms-through-technology sector are the strategic targets of telecom providers? I believe there are many false gods and the crusade toward convergence and the killer applications are simply two modern-day false gods. Reality shows that the progress of technology, appliances, applications, services, content and the participation or contribution of users themselves in content evolves at such a rate that convergence appears ever more impossible. I think we ought to look to where the market and demand themselves are taking the sector, instead of constantly trying to turn in a direction that the market does not want to go.