The combination of faster mobile bandwidth and software-enabled networks will reshape Australias telecommunications sector during 2020 and deliver new opportunities for operators, according to new research from Ecosystm.
The Top 5 Telecommunications - Mobility Trends for 2020 report identifies the key technologies that will change the way networks are operated and end users are served.
A mobility revolution
According to the report, one of the most significant technological trends will be the widespread introduction of 5G networks. As auctioned spectrum is released, and devices expand, operators will compete for leadership while continuing to search for business models that can help recoup infrastructure spend.
"While 5G will see some significant steps forward over the next couple of years, it will still be largely a marketing tool in 2020. 5G will grab user attention, while new services and greater speeds will be made possible by enhanced 4G networks," says Liam Gunson, director, product and solutions, Ecosystm.
"5G promises to transform speed, capacity, and latency, unlocking anything from robotic tele-surgery to making a city smart. In 2020 however, we will see the embedding of less sexy services for users centred more around speed and capacity," he says.
Gunson says the capabilities of new networks will see operators experiment further with fixed wireless for home broadband. In the business space they will look to leverage an increasingly mobile first development trend, created as agile working and the gig economy reshape workforces and allow staff to operate effectively from almost any location.
The rise of software-defined networking
Ongoing changes in networking technology will cause a rethink of conventional local area and wide area networks. Infrastructure technologies such as GPON, POL, 5G, WiFi6 and software-defined networking will alter both the capability and economics of enterprise networks, increasing its potential for business transformation.
"As organisations approach the shifting sands of digital transformation, they will demand greater agility from their network," says Gunson.
"Networks, and the new technologies available, will be increasingly viewed through a growth lens, as opposed to the traditional cost minimisation view. At the same time, new infrastructure technologies and shifts in bandwidth economics they bring, will increase the potential for new players to disrupt this spac," he says.
"5G in particular will allow organisations to incorporate fixed network capabilities natively in their mobility solutions, and therefore face less need for customisation of enterprise networks."
Focus on the edge
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been talked about for some time, however 2020 will be the year its potential will start to be realised, the report shows.
"Cheaper chipsets and more network options have made it possible to connect things. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and edge computing will enable the ability to truly sense and respond and unlock new capabilities. The use of cameras as sensors, for example, is set to expand as cost barriers in transferring and interpreting video are removed," says Gunson.
"Edge computing will also grow with the roll-out of 5G networks. The ability to handle massive increases in both data, connection types, and networks (through network slicing), will require considerable intelligence at the edge to ensure response time and decrease costs."
A changing landscape for operators
According to the report, the combination of AI, virtualisation and software-defined networking will significantly change the operational landscape for telco service providers who will be able to design and deploy more responsive and self-sustaining networks.
As providers become more flexible, integrating with them will become easier and they be able to deliver a wider range of niche products and services, to a wider range of B2B customers.
"Success in the telco provider sector will become a game of scale and operators are likely to consolidate to achieve this," says Gunson.
"Operators who can improve their channel/partnership capabilities to work with B2B customers, as well as the ability to develop and attract the software skill sets required for a software-defined world, are likely to be best placed to succeed."
Gunson says the next couple of years will be a time of rapid evolution for both telco providers and their customers.
"Increasing bandwidth speeds and wider use of software defined networks will open up vast new opportunities and support a range of new products and services," he says.
"Our research paints a positive picture for telecoms and networking in 2020. Those organisations that grasp the opportunities will be well placed for growth in the years ahead."