This year was more about how we will leverage new technologies and reconfigure our business models : It was about stuff that will turn the Telco world upside down….5G , Digitization , Software Defined Networks , IoT , Smart Cars etc … not many Telco CEO’s moaned about OTT players eating their lunch…thank heavens …perhaps they have finally accepted the fact that you can still make money by leveraging new technologies and penetrating adjacent markets with some creative thinking. So lets summarise the hot trends in 2016 world that will drive the Telco business agendas going forward.
1 : 5G is hurtling at us like the Starship Enterprise at warp 7. Tier 1 Telcos such as Verizon , NTT DoCoMo, BT , Etisalat etc are busy trialling with the main vendors in Test Beds and research universities are achieving speeds of I Tbs. Thats your HD movie download in 4 seconds. Governments from EU,Korea , Japan are throwing millions into research even as respective Regulators get ready to dole out Spectrum to utilize higher frequency spectrums ranging from 6 to 66 gigahertz. This would take it into the millimeter-wave band, which will enable multi-beam multiplexing and massive multi-input-output (MIMO) technologies.In future, 5G will have a much wider influence in areas such as realtime monitoring of IoT sensors, due to its low latency attributes. with the arrival of the 5G era marked by Gbps-level speeds and ultra-low latency, we will witness a dramatic improvement in the content and service quality along with increased number of content and service channel….. If you are a Star Trek fan, then 5G-powered Internet of Things (IoT) and Virtual Reality (VR) should fulfill some of your dreams..Beam me up Scotty !
2 : DIGITAL Telcos are the rage although the definitions vary but the desired end result is the same. The most successful CSPs are implementing customer centric systems that have the insight and visibility required to ensure every customer promise is fulfilled efficiently.The right blend of technologies will help the Telcos earn the Digital soubriquet. Think Analytics , flexible BSS/OSS , XaaS models and Virtualisation. Telecoms should learn from other industries, those that have undergone disruption and continue to innovate. For example, retailers centralize design, architecture, and operations so that local stores can benefit from the latest fashion items. They can plan and order with fast turnaround times. Engaging with customers in multiple digital dimensions opens a whole new world of contexts in which the service provider can interact with their subscribers, be it offering devices on Social Media or placing roaming package promotions on etickets.
3 : IoT is about all about M2M chatter enabled by millions of radio chips embedded everywhere. In future Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning will grab much of the attention in IoT-related projects. The IoT evolution requires a new and fundamentally different approach for locating IoT devices and then beyond that, securing and sharing their location information. Without those, IoT won’t live up to its potential – and hype. With IoT, wearables and other connected devices, the industry is now moving in a new direction – from convergence bringing everything to smart phones, to divergence connecting everything to the Internet. With this market shift, the industry is screaming for a horizontal, next-generation operating systems that can meet the needs of innovators to deliver a cross-platform connected experience in the IoT-era.
4 : SDN can reduce provisioning time from weeks to seconds, but internal IT and networking teams should not expect their deployments to go as quickly as that. Mobile operators that are serious about investing in restructuring their network infrastructure will need to plan carefully. The number of vendors in the SDN market continues to increase, and operators must take the time to choose those that best accommodate their needs. With the advent of SDN, the network can be dynamically programmed in a highly granular fashion, through the app itself. SDN/NFV technologies realize network services on shared standard hardware, allowing faster and easier modification of network configurations such as capacity and geographical location. By using SDN/NFV technologies, networks can be deployed for each individual service and optimized based on particular latency, bandwidth, safety and security needs.
5 : SMARTPHONES accounted for 45% of global mobile connections Q4 2015 ( GSMA ), surpassing basic and feature phone connections for the first time. Affordability is a major factor influencing smartphone adoption, especially in the developing world. Smartphone prices are expected to decrease in future due to increasing competition, a drop in the cost of materials and improvements in software.Wearable devices featured heavily at MWC but also showed further signs of evolution. The first phase of enterprise mobility was about empowering users with mobile devices and email on the move and the second was about basic transactional apps, the third phase that we are entering now is about the transformation of business processes using mobile technologies, including wearables and other devices that have started to enter business thanks to the reduced cost of computing capability, familiarity by employees of wearable capabilities and increased acceptance by CIOs of BYOD.
6 : CONNECTED CARS are rolling with the arrival of LTE and the accelerator will hit the floor when 5G kicks in. Auto manufacturers are aggressively pursuing opportunities in the mobile space in their quest to fundamentally rethink transportation. These companies will triple engineering investment in driver assist technology, speeding the roll-out of semi automated systems that make it easier to park and drive in heavy traffic. An autonomous car will most likely become a third place where people will spend a good amount of time next to their living space and their office. Personal space and available time are scarce already and will become even more so. An autonomous car will use less fuel on a given route than a human driver on the same route, as it can allot just the right amount of energy that is needed. A live telemetry system that collects data from F1 sports car now works on a larger scale because of a Wi-Fi-based solution.
7 : THE SEARCH for new revenue streams and business models is intensifying because many markets are now approaching saturation; most economically developed markets have already surpassed 90% unique subscriber penetration, meaning the vast majority of the addressable population in these market are already mobile subscribers. As smartphones approach an unprecedented level of ubiquity, the maturation of the mobile industry presents opportunities for operators, as well as undeniable challenges. The ecosystem enabled by almost universal mobile ownership is of huge value, but equally the traditional subscriber-acquisition model of operator growth must inevitably be re-evaluated. Collaboration and Co Opetition are in vogue since most players have realised they cannot own every facet of an ecosystem..its getting too big and complex.
2017 will be all about building , transforming , preparing for : the dawn of Cloud , IoT , Big Data , AI , VR Apps and services backboned on light speed fibre ultra dense radio and infrastructure that will enable consumers equipped with bendable screen smartphones enjoy a different kind of living on the move.
Wish you happy holidays and a fantastic 2017
Sadiq Malik ( Telco Strategist )