What network challenges does the industry face as we head to the middle of 2018 and beyond?
One of the challenges is the switch port cost vs. revenue ratio, which has increased significantly due to the price per minute on voice services declining. More demand for secure networks and direct connects have also increased networks costs. Increased use of networks and the additional deployment of facilities to meet the customer demand will continue to grow.

What technologies do you see changing / shaping the industry and how?
Switching as a Service (SaaS) has eliminated a large portion of infrastructure costs for many companies, making them more competitive. Many turnkey solutions are also available minimizing time and money for small and start up companies.

What impact will industry changes (you describe the industry change) have on digital transformation plans within organizations?
Digital/data security must play a key role in any organization. Cloud technology will continue to be a priority to our core infrastructures.

How important is SDN for the industry and what is your company doing to implement and deploy this technology capability?
KDDI Global is moving their office network infrastructure to a complete SDN. This technology offers us flexibility and a cost reduction.

Are you seeing Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning deployed (or planning to deploy) in your business - and how?
KDDI Global was one of the first to deploy a Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning fraud detection system to its international voice traffic. This has become as important as terminating calls around the globe for our customers.

What broad trends do you see in telecoms in the next 12 months?
Telecom players will need to better adapt to the OTT players now in the market. All are looking for new revenue streams. We will see more integration of voice, data and SMS services in our interactions with our customers. More SaaS deployment, as well as more machine learning.

What are new developments and initiatives that are exciting for your company in 2018?
Some are a secret. What I can tell you is that we continue to partner with strong long term retail partners for a variety of services and offerings.

What technologies or solutions inhibiting growth today and how do you see innovation adapting to solve that problem?
On the voice side, the machine to machine traffic can pose a big issue for us and our customers. Implementing more AI systems will help us detect and remove this traffic from our network and will provide valuable information to our customers.

Why is ITW such an important industry event for you and your company?
ITW gives us a chance to meet with all of our partners globally, while introducing us to new ones. ITW, as one of the largest telecom events, has always been our cornerstone show to help build our relationships with partners and potential partners all over the world.

Bob Imhoff is currently the COO of KDDI Global, an award winning Global Voice and SMS Carrier. Bob has been in the industry for over 30 years and has previously held various Management positions in AT&T, Verizon and Ricochet. Contact Bob at bimhoff@kddiglobal.com.