Top telecom trends from Analysys Mason

Analysys Mason, a telecom research firm, has shared telecom trends, which will assist service providers to finalize their Capex plans, for 2015.

# Monetizing network investments in broadband infrastructure will be a top priority in 2015.

Telecom operators will reap the benefits of growing data consumption in 2015 as many markets return to growth. LTE provides the ability to create larger data allotments compared with 3G (at higher prices) supported by ever more capable devices. 4K video will start to appear, driven by smartphone uploads, which will help to drive data consumption.

Momentum will build around voice over Wi-Fi, and VoLTE will join later as an integrated proposition (and using the same IMS components). Launches will be driven by the need to address indoor coverage issues, but will also stimulate operators into evolving the ‘communications app’ both as a native device capability and an over-the-top (OTT) service extension.

Fixed–mobile service bundles will become mass-market propositions beyond early successes in markets such as France, Portugal and Spain. The pace of transformative market consolidation will accelerate.

Many more operator LTE networks will implement policy and prioritisation features to support voice and video as well as differentiated services. The focus on end-to-end service management will be a worldwide phenomenon, but North America will lead the way in 2015.

Safaricom buys Essar Telecom Kenya

Many more operators will deploy VoLTE services in 2015 and beyond. Some will actively market HD voice quality, but the value of this to customers is uncertain – particularly given limited interworking in the short term. Operators should be aiming to collectively improve the user experience of operator voice in the face of increased competition from OTT VoIP services.

At least one operator will launch a commercial eMBMS service to support multicast video services for sporting events and other live events.

In addition to addressing enhanced consumer broadband demand, operators will continue the push to offer more differentiated services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This will require enhanced customer self-service, hierarchical billing and end-to-end service management.

Operators will start to roll out identity management for enhanced SME services as they increasingly support, for example, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Leadership of these services will be focused in North America, where both AT&T and Verizon are pursuing this opportunity aggressively.

Operators will de-emphasise selling customer data to advertisers, but will become more effective in analysing customer data for real-time service offers.

# Operators will aggressively pursue digital economy services in 2015 to create the basis for revenue growth in 2017 and beyond.

Smart wearable devices will enter the mainstream following the launch of Apple Watch: 44 million wearable devices will be sold worldwide in 2015.

The health and wellbeing vertical will become the area of greatest activity for the digital economy, attracting the largest number of launched operator partnerships and the greatest increase in consumer engagement across the year (through apps and services). However, it will not generate much money for operators at this point.

At least five major operators will position themselves as worldwide providers of digital services with globe-spanning data centres.

Major IT vendors will not only provide data centre technology to the major operators but will compete with those operators with their own globe-spanning data centres.

The ‘big five’ equipment vendors will refine their approach to serving operators’ Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M infrastructure requirements. This will be closely tied to the greater clarity on emerging radio standards within the 3GPP framework and around operators’ interest in evolved or overlay infrastructure for IoT/M2M.

The combination of customer, device and network analytics will become a part of network operator differentiation in the digital economy.

# Virtualization will start to drive network technology changes as the 5G conversation continues.

Event activity around 5G will continue unabated in 2015, even as the standards bodies’ working groups begin their work towards defining the actual 5G standards. Operators such as NTT DoCoMo and SK Telecom will also be showcasing their own visions for 5G – particularly in areas such as HetNet expansion and evolution, and network efficiency developments.

Current worldwide 5G initiatives focus on network densification and capacity, but could impact almost all network elements and will be about more than just spectral efficiency. Network performance, capacity and support for IoT are all on the 5G ‘wish list’.

Active network sharing, transmission sharing, consolidation and joint deployments unlock step-change cost savings and will become fully mainstream. Spectrum pooling will rise on regulators’ agendas as critical to reaching EU Digital Agenda broadband availability targets.

The first large scale deployments of will appear in the second half of 2015, as operators continue to recognise the benefits of utilising their last-mile copper infrastructure.

The increased agility and openness of network function virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) will force the industry to focus on policy and security to control authorisation, authentication and access before virtualisation can become widespread.

The focus on NFV orchestration will shift from proof-of-concept to the business case, as operators identify the most-effective approaches at the network and service levels.

# Operators will deploy new broadband and video technologies, and will share and consolidate infrastructure to improve operational efficiency and profitability.

In order to increase capacity and efficiency in fibre networks, vendor R&D and operator investment in optical distribution networks (GPON and NG-PON) will increase sharply in 2015 and continue until the end of the decade. This will be the glue that holds together the access networks of the future.

Operators will continue the roll out of LTE-A – particularly carrier aggregation – to increase spectral efficiency.

Increased customer reliance on video will lead to significant investments in video optimisation and service quality assurance to better balance network efficiency and monetisation with customer experience.

Operators will accelerate the push to integrate their many acquisitions into cohesive, converged operations with common operating platforms.

Active network sharing will become more common in particular situations and for specific use cases. The benefits of active network sharing partnerships include: the cost-effective deployment of 3G or LTE; accelerated nationwide coverage expansion; optimum utilisation of established network resources; increased revenue (through wholesale arrangements); access to greater spectrum bandwidth (through spectrum pooling) and reduced spectrum cost (as a result of joint bidding).

# Customer experience management will move from the ‘hype’ stage to a widely accepted business approach.

Customer experience management will become a capability that is built into many automation investments – including customer care and service management. Incremental efforts to improve customer experience and related Net Promotor Scores will be a normal part of everyday network operator investments.

Network operators will increase their reliance on bundled services, and improved support for bundles, to ensure customer retention.

Analytics investments will finally pay off in helping operators to target high-value customers for special attention.

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