Telecom Industry Trends in 2021
Accelerated by the pandemic in recent months, multiple forces have converged to reshape the telecommunications industry. Between advancements in AI, edge computing, and IoT, along with the implementation of 5G, the telecom sector is at the precipice of change. Owing to the disruption caused by these emerging technologies, telcos have realized that they can play a pivotal role in enabling a truly digital society. As they continue to explore new opportunities and cater to evolving customer expectations, the focus is on continuous innovation and developing strong technology prowess.
Wining in a digital economy
In this primer, let's look at the trends, which dominate, and help telecommunication companies deliver high-value services. In this new normal the focus is on automation, security, fast networks, artificial intelligence, and more, thus aiming to meet the needs of the future.
We all know 5G is all set to be a game-changer in the telecom industry and is expected to give rise to significant economic opportunities in the next 3-5 years. According to the GSMA, by 2025, 5G is expected to contribute an additional $700B in value to the global economy. In the wake of the pandemic, the need for better bandwidth and reliable connectivity has been more pronounced. By addressing these requirements and enabling a smart and connected world which is more efficient, 5G will ensure reduced costs, lower latency, and higher flexibility. It will make those applications viable which cannot be operated on the current wireless technology.
To realize the full potential of 5G, telcos are also looking at compelling use-cases. Let's take the example of Telstra and Commonwealth Bank of Australia which are working together on an initiative called ‘cameras AI.’ The objective is to bolster the security within the bank with cameras that use 5G and AI/ML logic to detect unprecedented incidents. Also, to emerge as a leader in 5G, T-Mobile and Sprint have joined forces. They have announced nationwide 5G coverage in the United States, and aim to serve almost 200 million people by the end of 2021.
However, merely providing a network will not prove sufficient for telcos. They will have to bring together all their capabilities which will involve integrating 5G with the Internet of Things.
IoT gains prominence
In 2021, the demand for IoT will continue to grow in the telecom sector. As there is a transition from 4G to 5G networks and 5G networks mature, the value which IoT products and services bring will prove critical. Additionally, 5G will enable real-time exchange of data as it ensures lower latency and high speed of IoT devices. Integration of IoT and 5G will help telcos deliver superior service to industries spanning Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, Government, Agriculture, Transportation, and Energy and Resources.
As telecom emerges as one of the key players in IoT it will also play a critical role in industry 4.0. Manufacturers today are looking at leveraging technological advancements to gain a competitive edge. Often, they use IoT systems to gain valuable insights and make enhancements to various aspects of their business. Here telcos are presented with a significant opportunity to support manufacturers where they can make provision of IoT services across the factory shop floor. In all likelihood wireless telecom providers will have an edge over providers of fixed telecom infrastructure. Manufacturers who have been depending on ethernet networks built on fiber or expensive and proprietary private wireless networks will turn to the services of these telecom providers.
Advanced analytics redefines success
The key activities of telcos are closely related to data transfer, exchange, and import. The amount of data being generated by the various communication channels is growing in massive amounts. By harnessing the potential of this data, advanced analytics is fast accelerating innovation in the telecom industry and providing new opportunities for digital acceleration. Whether for enhanced customer service, network optimization, predictive maintenance, or fraud detection, the deployment of analytics models is redefining the new science of winning in the telecom sector.
Advanced analytics also offers unprecedented visibility into operations by guiding workflows, providing access to real-time updates on network performance, optimizing the allocation of technicians, and tracking the evolution of customers in the lifecycle.
Steps which telcos need to follow to maximize the benefits from advanced analytics are:
The final step is extremely critical as advanced analytics alone will not bring along changes unless it is integrated with process improvements.
The year of the edge
While we have already discussed 5G, IoT, and Advanced Analytics, we cannot ignore edge computing. According to forecasts, by 2023, 70% of the companies would conduct some of their data processing with edge computing.
Four key reasons why telcos need to act on edge computing:
It would not be wrong to assume that edge computing will not only reduce the volume of communication between the cloud and the device but will also be heavily dependent on 5G or Wi-Fi. In such a scenario, telcos who hold patents for these specific technologies will emerge as leaders.
Propelled by the disruption caused by these technologies and the pandemic, the telecom industry needs to move towards innovation and experiments. While most organizations will be prioritizing customer experience, it is the challenges in the near future that will lead them to leverage these trends and come up with innovative solutions. It remains undeniable that the success of the telecom companies largely depends on the pace at which they embrace digital transformation.
Research Associate, Sales Enablement
Lead Content Writer, Marketing