Telecom Trends and Technologies for 2019: Predictions from the Experts
The findings reveal a general consensus that IoT, virtualization and AI should be viewed as critical for the development of telcos as digitization progresses. Yet there was also an element of caution, based on uncertainty about precisely how these technologies will impact the industry and the best ways of extracting positive benefits from them.
In terms of customer service, several AI use cases were viewed as potentially useful in service assurance. Of these, predictive analytics was seen as most promising (by 76% of respondents). Most respondents also said their organizations had no choice but to adapt to the changing telecommunications landscape; some 87% declared that they were being forced to change their business processes by new technologies.
The expansion of IoT networks and the proliferation of devices will certainly not lose pace in 2019, and telcos recognize that this will bring opportunities for monetization – even if there is no consensus about what shape such opportunities might take. The most promising use cases were connected cars (cited by 43% of respondents), smart metering and logistics (35%). The mass rollout of 5G could have an impact on where and how operators seek to reap the benefits of IoT, as, while connected cars demand the ultra-low latency, high-speed capabilities of a comprehensive 5G network, metering and logistics do not.
Experts in the industry are extremely cautious about the wholesale replacement of legacy network systems. They are in agreement that digital transformation and the deployment of automation, cloud operations, real-time data processing and new silo-busting architectures are required. Yet the uncertainty they express (4% believe a revolutionary upgrade would be disastrous) is likely to mean only slow and steady BSS growth over the coming 12 months. The focus during this time is likely to be on automating business processes such as billing, fraud prevention and customer services.
It looks very likely that 5G will bring about significant challenges in the OSS arena too. In general, OSS currently in place can’t handle the transport, convergence and virtualization demands of automation from the 5G perspective. This might prove an issue while the industry rationalizes the current proliferation of open source SDN/NFV platforms out there. While ONOS, ONAP and OPNFV fight it out for supremacy, operators are likely to invest mostly in core networks this year. Incidentally, feeling in the industry is that OPNFV currently has a slight edge (57% of respondents) over ONAP (46%), but this could change.
Yet, while caution and uncertainty seem to be keywords at the moment, there is no disagreement that IoT, virtualization and artificial intelligence will continue to have a huge influence on the telecommunications industry and the way its major players lay their plans during the coming 12 months.