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Written by Nathan Sawicki
on 09 Feb 2018

It is becoming easier than ever to bring your business to the forefront of tech innovation by investing in the latest technology.

Telecom providers have a unique opportunity to grow their business and customer base by investing in next-generation networks and technologies-including 5G, wireless and mobility, content streaming, software-defined networks, and AI. That said, any major technological refresh also brings with it the possibilities of significant business disruption and increased competitive pressure. But this might be exactly what your business needs to push you to the next level. Many of today's service providers are at a tipping point faced with a wide range of strategic options and no clear roadmap of where to go or what to do next.

Here are five global trends in technology innovation that telecom industry players need to take note of when shaping their investment strategies.

 

5G and Fiber are the Future

The most valuable offering that a telecommunications company can provide to its customers is improved network speed and bandwidth. In the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, old copper-based networks are disappearing, with fiber-optic technology taking its place. Networks are also preparing to upgrade to 5G, which ABI Research predicts will be rolled out from 2020. By investing in these state-of-the-art infrastructures, providers will have sufficient flexibility to handle new and profitable market opportunities.

 

Over-the-Top (OTT) Players are Dominating

Internet-based OTT services such as WhatsApp, iMessage, and Skype continue to slice into the revenues of telecom carriers. It may mean having to move away from older SMS and first-generation digital telephony services and developing new value propositions by investing in emerging technologies and apps. Upgrading networks with next-generation infrastructure may give telecom providers key opportunities to reclaim market share from OTT providers.

 

Customer Communications are Becoming Automated

In a bid to reduce costs and streamline operations, many service providers are embracing digital technologies that can automate customer services and the back office. In this omnichannel age, all customer contact and sales channels-including online, mobile, and physical-need to be linked digitally so that all consumer activities can be tracked in a single database.

An example of this strategy in action is France's Free Mobile, which installed self-service kiosks in retail locations to reduce the overheads of running its store network. There is also the still untapped potential of data analytics and machine learning, which smart companies are using to transform the customer experience.

 

Providers are Moving Beyond Basic Connectivity

According to market research firm eMarketer, the global audience for digital video content grew by more than 8%, to 2.15 billion people worldwide-fueled by growing Internet and mobile usage, and greater access to data and Wi-Fi in developing countries.

Telecom operators play a central role in the distribution of digital content to consumers-content which can also include e-commerce, financial services, lifestyle applications, and more. This advantage provides them with prime opportunities to invest in these verticals directly. Prime examples include Comcast's recent merger with Time Warner Cable and France's Orange making a move into smartphone- and tablet-based banking.

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is Growing Fast

According to a recent KPMG study, the global IoT market will continue growing at an average CAGR of 23% until 2019-with potential applications ranging from smart meters and remote patient monitoring to biometrics, predictive maintenance, and self-optimizing factories.

For telecom service providers, this represents an opportunity to reap big returns on their investments in new telecom assets and capabilities-including 5G and fiber-and to push into higher-value service offerings. These may include improving the security and scalability of new connected devices and helping to develop open standards for large-scale data collection and processing.

For telecom companies who are taking active steps to embrace next-gen technologies, the future is looking brighter than ever.

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