The changing role of telecoms

Wasim Azhar, VP of customer success at Openet and experts from Neural Technologies answer your questions on what the telecoms giant of the future will look like
Telecoms operators are having to diversify their technological offerings to maintain customer share in the face of 5G.
Telecoms operators are having to diversify their technological offerings to maintain customer share in the face of 5G.

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5G is here, it is revolutionary, and it is changing the way the world works. The recent rise of 5G is creating and defining the hyper-connected modern economy. Telecoms operators have a key role to play in enabling this hyper-connected world by revolutionising their offerings and content to satisfy their customer’s escalating technological demands. Our society is increasingly becoming reliant on telecoms operators to deliver real-time connectivity performance.

Experts at Neural Technologies agree that new ways of living in an increasingly connected environment is creating new monetisation opportunities for telecoms based on new network use cases. These will ultimately surpass companies’ 4G use cases which, while similar, cannot support the more virtualised WAN networks with the same potential to by-pass their core networks. Therefore, this identification of new revenue streams will become a necessity in this new age of 5G networks in order to meet user demands as they grow.

“On the face of it, 2019 has been a year of 5G progress. Countries like South Korea, the US and Switzerland have created a global leadership position, signing up 5G subscribers on to 5G tariffs via 5G devices. Consumers have been the obvious priority, with enhanced mobile broadband [eMBB] the use case. But, operators understand that 5G revenue potential won’t come from consumer services alone,” noted Wasim Azhar, VP of customer success at Openet.

New revenue streams:

Telecoms operators are rising to the challenge, and are redefining themselves in their move to different verticals to diversify business offerings through partnerships and acquisitions, according to Neural Technologies experts. Recently, traditional Cable TV MSO Comcast announced it would be moving into the mobile services and operating industries as an MVNO using Verizon’s network. This is a win-win for both Comcast (Xfinity) and Verizon as they can now obtain a broader reach.

“Operators are eyeing up the enterprise, with ultra-reliable, ultra-low latency communications [URLLC] poised as the key to the enterprise coffer. And they’re not wrong. The need for reliable connectivity will become increasingly important for many enterprises; take car manufacturers, for example; the success of their connected car offering will rely on being able to guarantee low-latency, high-speed connectivity. Operators hold the key to reaching this URLLC nirvana,” said Azhar.

The expected introduction of network slicing will create vast dedicated performance-guaranteed virtual networks which operators can offer exclusively to enterprises. This will completely change how operators monetise their services, according to Azhar, as they’ll be able to guarantee SLA-grade connectivity, and monetise each service on a per-slice basis. This move towards the enterprise will see more companies partnering with telecoms operators and vendors to deliver on the 5G promise.

“Just last week, gaming company Niantic published a job advertisement for a ‘global head of Mobile Network Operators’ demonstrating the shift in direction for companies not typically involved in the telecoms space,” said Azhar.

It is important that operators continue to identify how they can stay in control of the content, rather than being a ‘dumb’ pipe, according to Neural Technologies. To diversify, operators need to deliver the personalised content as opposed to simply transporting the same services. It would also benefit to capitalise on recurring revenue from the vast range of devices that will be attached to the industry’s progression through IoT and Edge Computing, amongst others.

The future:
5G has the potential to deliver richer content and more engaging services than ever before. Content and services that subscribers want and can get excited by. Instead of just transporting data and services, telecoms operators are monetising the services that flow through their network infrastructure. In the future the sector will see companies partnering to address specific verticals and generate different offerings. For example, a recent announcement by TELUS – a Canadian Operator – revealed that they acquired the home security company ADT. Such collaborations are important in the development of the industry to meet the ever-expanding needs of the market, according to Neural Technologies.

“5G represents radical change in how content and services are created and offered. Operators embrace new technology and new architecture to capitalise on all new 5G opportunities, free from the limitations of legacy systems. The operator of the future, in 2020 and beyond, will therefore need to switch gears when it comes to embracing DevOps, micro-services and Open APIs. These new approaches and ways of working will give operators the agility and flexibility to offer new contextually rich content to subscribers, on demand, in real time, and in response to rapidly changing subscriber and industry trends. 5G will bring new services to the table—VR, low-latency gaming, ultra-HD video—but operators will only be able to offer and monetise these services with the right tools in place to speed up time to market and that spur on the uptake and adoption of new services,” said Azhar.

The world is seeing traditional Network Operations Groups being absorbed into the IT organisation as data – in its entirety - becomes wholly IP-based. For example, PureCloud frenzy is now settling down into a hybrid approach, with Edge Processing being implemented where it makes sense to address real-time requirements, according to Neural Technologies experts. Meanwhile, Open Source promises a utopia of perfect components that work efficiently with one another and the ‘Buy versus Build’ pendulum has now swung towards internal development. Service providers need to continue to gain knowledge across a myriad of domains in order to remain current and address specific use cases; they will need to rely on the expertise of vendors that support these applications and verticals. Relative to this, it can be observed that advancements in AI and ML are of further interest within the industry, but the potential gain on ROIs are only just starting to be realised.

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