One thing is certain in 2020: if telcos want to embrace new technologies that promise to revolutionize the industry, they will need to invest in infrastructure that enables them to support and monetize these technologies. According to a recent global EY report, telcos will pump more into overhauling their conventional IT infrastructure, making digital transformation a major driver this year.
This new infrastructure paves the way for a host of advanced customer-focused technologies: 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), to name a few. Which ones are right for you and how can you maximize your chances of success? There’s no one answer: the key is finding the right mix of offering relevant to your market and context.
Technologies transforming telecom
Here’s a roundup of the year’s biggest trends and what they could mean for you:
Higher speeds and lower latency mean that 5G supports use cases like immersive content (augmented reality, virtual reality) and high-resolution video, helping CSPs deliver an unmatched customer experience to gain a competitive edge. As 5G progresses towards large-scale commercial viability, service providers have begun trials of new use cases, and the results are encouraging them to readily adopt the next-gen technology. As more devices and use cases become viable, the revenue potential continues to grow along with the need for flexible IT systems to support them.
Cloud computing in the telecom sector relies heavily on the adoption of data and logic separation principles, SDN/NFV, DevOps, microservices, and more. It gives telcos the flexibility to acquire the corresponding services – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), which extensively increases scalability, standardization, self-service automation, and reduces operational costs. Telecom players should adapt their IT processes and prepare for related security implications such as identity theft, unauthorized access, relinquished governance and compliance policies, data security and breach of privacy, as well as inconsistency across on-premise and cloud platforms. A recent Telecoms.com report predicts that 5G will mean wide-scale adoption of edge computing. The market is quickly evolving from a centralized to a distributed cloud, and it is expected that this year, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be processed outside of centralized data centers.
From virtual assistants and chatbots to knowledge engineering, smart machines, and autonomous vehicles, AI has the potential to replicate human cognitive capabilities. It will help telecom service providers offer a transformational customer experience while they manage, optimize, and monetize their infrastructure using different business models. Use cases include network optimization, predictive maintenance, virtual assistants, RPA, and many more.
Blockchain is a gamechanger for securely conducting business with third-parties while reducing costs and increasing revenue. CSPs can leverage blockchain to offer new services using tamperproof transaction management and automated contracting. Applications include 5G enablement, mobile financial services, data management, fraud management, identity management, instantaneous connectivity and transaction, IoT connectivity, number portability, roaming, and more.
Internet of Things
IoT will, in conjunction with 4G and 5G, change how people communicate and interact with technologies opening up new revenue streams for service providers. It is an essential part of capturing and transmitting data to power smart city use cases like smart lighting, smart grids, heating, and lighting. Telcos are applying IoT to home automation and wearable devices to enhance their overall customer experiences. In the coming years, IoT smart sensors will be implemented in gaming environments, healthcare, personal fitness goals, sports, and more.
The telecom industry has always been the most vulnerable target for cyberattacks given the vast amounts of sensitive data stored on various complex networks. A few years ago, for instance, one of the more significant attacks compromised the personal details of 157,000 TalkTalk customers. 5G brings its own set of security threats, and telcos need to prepare for any kind of direct or indirect cyber attack. This means building adequate IT infrastructure and pairing it with talent and processes to support resiliency. Effective cybersecurity must include the implementation of threat detection, incident response methods, and prevention methods.
How to seize these opportunities
Start your digital transformation journey now
A recent report predicts that the OSS/BSS market is expected to grow from USD 2.77 billion in 2019 to USD 8.78 billion by 2026, indicating a significant potential for telcos to support diverse digital services than limited traditional services. To ensure successful digital transformation, CSPs need to upgrade to digital BSS, which can be implemented in phases to pace out investment. This helps operators seize data opportunities as the market evolves and ensures quick time-to-market, monetization, and smooth management of the latest communications services. A next-gen digital BSS stack also facilitates high-value 5G use cases, including IoT (management and offers), and experience-based charging.
Invest in 5G infrastructure
As 5G permeates, mobile operators will need to invest significantly in 5G infrastructure to deliver high data speed, low latency, and to support billions of connected devices. Besides the billions being spent on 5G RAN, the 5G Core is an important investment. 5G Core with cloud-native features expands the service capabilities of telcos; provides scalability and agility; supports 5G network protocols including extensive use of REST APIs and eases migration to service-based architecture.
Ensure strict regulatory policies
According to Statista.com, the number of devices connected to the IoT is expected to reach 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. IoT-enabled networks are more vulnerable to major cyber invasions and crimes. Insufficiently protected devices such as laptops, tablets, routers, webcams, smartwatches, automobiles, and home security systems can be turned into weapons by hackers, cybercriminals, or hostile organizations and states, so it’s essential to implement adequate cybersecurity measures.
Overcome network coverage issues
Having reliable 5G network coverage will require a massive investment of time and finances. Operators can resolve network coverage issues by taking these measures:
Infrastructure sharing alleviates network coverage issues and helps operators deliver better connectivity and network performance by pooling resources to maximize coverage buildout.
The open radio access network (O-RAN) movement is separating the software and physical layers of RAN, eliminating vendor lock-in and allowing budgets to go much further in procuring equipment.
Network monitoring tools remain a powerful mechanism to resolve network issues. These tools provide real-time alerts to the concerned teams when there is downtime, device unavailability, performance issues, or any deviation from an accepted network baseline. Further, network configuration management tools help track any changes in settings and send alerts in case of unauthorized changes while providing a mechanism to roll back to earlier settings.
Also, Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi)/WiFi Calling helps overcome the challenges faced by subscribers due to poor or no network coverage. VoWiFi helps customers make calls and remain always-connected, increasing the quality of services and customer experience.
Automate inventory management
One of the major challenges operators face with 5G is managing billions of IoT devices. Further, with evolving technologies, the CSPs having diverse partnerships require constant efforts to manage and allocate resources and inventory. Inefficient management could lead to complicated and faulty invoices, increased risk of fraud, data breaches, insecure network endpoints, and revenue losses. To avoid these complications, CSPs should have a universal system with legacy and new automated inventory tools, which also maintain an inventory of virtual networking components and logical networks like network slices. Subsequently, deploying a next-gen inventory management system provides real-time inventory information with factual and predictive data, helping make quick allocation decisions that ensure the conservation of investment and help gain an edge over competitors.
Manage partnerships efficiently
CSPs need real-time billing and policy control capabilities to seize and monetize opportunities that all-IP 5G means new devices, use cases, partnerships, business models. This calls for diverse partnerships inherent in wholesale and 5G networks. With growing complexities of managing diverse partners, it multiplies the challenges to efficiently manage several partners like wholesale, interconnect and roaming partners, OTT/content players, distributors, MVNO, affiliates, and agents. Deploying end-to-end partner management and settlement solution (PMSS) helps operators smoothly and flawlessly manage the complete partner lifecycle and support distinct agreement policies, revenue models, and settlement modes. PMSS plays a vital role in the 5G business and has the highest potential to launch innovative 5G billing use cases like network slicing, device-based experiences, converged offerings, and more.
Digitize customer experience
A Walker study suggests that by 2020, customer experience (CX) will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Enhancing and digitizing the customer experience should top the list for every forward-thinking telco. 5G and IoT will likely emerge as the new battleground, with operators keen to employ new digital business models. And as expectations cross industry boundaries, telcos must remain focused on redefining the CX with more innovation, such as deploying AI-based tools and omnichannel support.
Be prepared for what’s next
5G is expected to significantly change the face of telecommunications. The three main use cases of 5G – Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine-type Communications (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) – promise to deliver superfast wireless connectivity, lower latency, and digital innovations. And while it is expected to revolutionize the customer experience, 5G will stimulate the demand for next-gen devices, adding to severe network densification. With this forecast, CSPs have huge revenue potential from their retail and enterprise clients by digitalizing the customer experience. Additionally, they can offer B2B and B2C clients an enhanced spectrum of services such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and a host of other leading-edge next-gen services. Operators can unveil the monetization opportunities that 5G promises and achieve a high-level of orchestration and automation with a robust 5G Core solution along with a modern digital BSS stack.
Marketing Content Writer