The first fiscal quarter is a crucial time for any business executive. This is the time when meetings are held and strategies are set into motion, helping to shape the trends of the year ahead.
As the telecom industry continues to speed past an exhilarating 2016, it’s time to look at the new year. Here are my top three predictions for 2017:
Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) Continues Its Expansion
Last year, growth in the fiber market exceeded the expectations of many industry analysts. In the USA alone, more than 30 millions homes are now on an FTTH network, representing 16% growth in the market.
We can expect this trend to continue as the demand for faster and more reliable IP services continues to increase. What some readers may not know, is that smaller providers play a crucial role in the advancement of FTTH. The cost and risk of infrastructure and provisioning system replacements on widespread networks is high, and as a result, shifting to a fiber network is a slow and meticulous process. This was recognized in a recent FTTH Council press release, which stated: “It’s no easy task to deploy fiber in North America – several billion miles of network are required to supply fiber-optic capability to an individual U.S. home – but thousands of providers are united in bringing all-fiber networks to the U.S.”
This problem is not specific to North America, either. Before any fiber services can be implemented, operators must analyze their solutions to ensure that they can handle the demanding network requirements, the numerous user devices, and the immense amount of IP addresses sure to come onboard. For smaller providers, this is a much more manageable task. Integrated B/OSS and automated processes will be essential to achieving success.
IoT Monetization Becomes Mainstream
The revenue potential of the Internet of things (IoT) has been a sleeping giant for the last few years, and it’s finally starting to wake up. The users’ appetite for ‘networkable devices’ has never been more evident. Software is finding its way into everything, helped by small microcontrollers that have the most basic networking capabilities: in-home speaker assistance bots such as Google Assistant; video/audio doorbells like the Ring Doorbell Pro; wirelessly connected Talkie plush toys for children; and a large variety of Smart Home appliances. These are just the beginnings of an IoT hardware sector that’s quickly being pushed to the market.
We’re now also witnessing governments getting involved in the IoT puzzle, as some countries are choosing to enforce regulations by installing Vessel Tracking devices on commercial fishing vessels. These devices monitor the geographic position of a vessel to ensure that it’s not leaving regulated waters, as well as digitally monitoring what species of fish are being caught and enforcing quota restrictions.
Though large-scale solutions for IoT are still unclear at this time, there are many factors that service providers must look for when choosing an IoT partner. Knowledge of and the capability to manage large-scale networks is paramount, understanding the interworking relationships of devices and IP addresses is vital, and retaining the ability to track analytics and report on application information trends brought by the sensors that use IoT is essential.
Wireless Access Everywhere
Modern-day subscribers expect a WiFi connection almost everywhere they go. Do you remember the last time you pulled out your device to find no WiFi network available? Neither do I.
Analysts from WiFi specialist organization iPass recently released a WiFi Growth Map, which gives users a sliding scale to see how WiFi hotspot growth is predicted across the continents until 2018. Using their numbers, telecom analysts at Tnooz found that by the end of 2018 there will be one WiFi hotspot for every 8 humans.
The unrestrained growth of wireless access is one of the most important monetary opportunities for service providers today. Offering people wireless services through hotspots is a sure way to boost loyalty and improve your bottom line — but there’s a caveat. The infrastructure and networking costs required to deliver a reliable wireless service can sometimes seem daunting. With billions of devices jumping in and out of a wireless access point at seemingly random intervals, analyzing market needs and predicting capacity trends can be difficult without accurate forecasting solutions. Additionally, issues related to subscriber activation, access, and quality of service can be a major risk to any organization.
To solve these problems, operators must align themselves with solution providers that can offer cost savings and a reduction in services time-to-market. They require a vendor-agnostic, turnkey wireless solution. One method for achieving scalability and providing a higher quality of experience to users is to decouple wireless controllers from the networking architecture. This gives providers the ability to economically scale up offerings while cost-effectively managing access point provisioning, in addition to completing network tasks such as traffic redirection and tunneling. Virtualizing networks will play a major role as WiFi service points expand.
The industry at large stands ready to tackle the challenges of the year ahead. Once again, it should be an exhilarating ride.