Research firm Analysys Mason has released the predictions for the global telecom industry for 2020.
# Mobile cloud gaming
5G mobile services will enable mobile cloud gaming services. Many mobile operators are offering cloud gaming services on their 5G networks, often in partnership with providers such as Hatch or Microsoft. The industry will watch carefully for conversion rates when the promotional deals offered with 5G plans have expired.
# OTT video market
The OTT video market will struggle under the weight of competition. New services such as Disney+ and HBO Max continue to launch but the market can only sustain so many players, and consumers will start to rationalise the number of subscriptions that they take. More OTT players will adopt flexible pricing approaches including hybrid (free/paid) models and transactional sales.
# Wi-Fi 6
Many operators are adding Wi-Fi 6 to their in-home connectivity portfolios to address quality-of-experience (QoE) issues and to improve multi-device entertainment and connected home propositions.
Wi-Fi 6 will support the roll-out of multi-gigabit fibre and cable services in many countries, providing faster and more-reliable services for individual premises, rooms and applications. Operators will use the launch of Wi-Fi 6 hardware as an opportunity to revamp and enhance their smart/connected home services.
Wi-Fi 6 will limit the impact of 5G fixed substitution. An improved in-home experience will be more resistant to any fixed–mobile substitution plays from 5G mobile, and will enhance the advantage of fibre access compared to the more-limited capacity of mid-band 5G fixed-wireless access (FWA).
# Standalone 5G
Operators will continue to deploy 5G using non-standalone (NSA) technology and migration to standalone (SA) connectivity to the 5G core (full 5G) will face delays in 2020 because of uncertainties about business benefits and the need to implement unfamiliar cloud-native technologies and edge computing to support it.
Many sophisticated use cases based on widely deployed, low-latency 5G networks will be delayed further while operators slowly put in place building blocks including telco cloud platforms and new internal development processes.
# SD-WAN services
SD-WAN has so far mostly been sold to larger companies that have been willing to be early adopters. The technology is expected to expand into new markets in 2020, which will come with new challenges.
Operators may need to respond to alternative models for SD-WAN. Operators have concentrated on selling SD-WAN bundled with connectivity, supported by traditional vendors, such as Cisco and Nokia.
Other models are separating connectivity from SD-WAN, such as application-focused SD-WAN (for example, Citrix), security-focused SD-WAN (for example, Fortinet), or standalone SD-WAN sold at an aggressive price (for example, Cato Networks). Operators will need to react if these models are to find favour with businesses.
# IoT market
Mobile operators have been pursuing IoT for a long time. 5G should expand the business opportunity long-term, but operators need results from the investments that they have already made. Radical use cases for IoT based on 5G will depend on the future capabilities of 5G (for example, very low latency and network slicing).
The number of NB-IoT connections is expected to increase dramatically. More commercial networks of NB-IoT will be available in more countries. More international roaming agreements are in place. Device prices are declining. Modules are less than USD4 and full tracking devices are under USD25. If NB-IoT does not gain traction in 2020, operators and vendors may question whether demand will ever emerge.
Operators are endeavoring to apply automation to a much broader, more service-focused set of lifecycle operations. SD-WAN in particular will drive operators to increase investment in enterprise automation for customer engagement as well as service design, activation and ongoing operations.
Automation will increasingly help to connect operators to partners, customers and other operators, for example through the use of standardised APIs, enterprise marketplaces and cloud-deployed platform solutions.
Some operators will continue to refrain from embracing network function virtualisation (NFV)-based automation, but operator spending on related software and services will nevertheless continue to increase to roughly USD2 billion, nearly double that in 2019.
# New operating models
Financial pressures and digital disruption are leading many operators to embrace new operating models and are wresting some degree of control from traditional integrated operators.
The integrated operator model is giving way to a disaggregated model where local access control does not dictate the full service model. IT assets are an increasingly important part of the communications value chain, whether in managing video content, virtualising networks or edge computing.