The telecommunication industry has always been on the cusp of change and 2020 has been a year that’s amplified that position. It is ever evolving just as every aspect of the way humans communicate is. Our language, the medium we use to convey a message, our speaking style, even body language is ever-changing.
The top challenges in telecom in 2020 actually looked a lot like they did to the Pony Express or to Alexander Graham Bell when he introduced the first transcontinental telephone. Telecom companies are still grappling with demand for ever-increasing communication speed, security concerns, and demand for further interconnectedness. There is, of course, the modern twist thrown in by the reams and reams of data we create every day.
What were the top challenges in telecom in 2020? How did the industry respond to COVID? What opportunities lay ahead? We break it all down below.
The roll out of 5G is bringing many changes and challenges for the telecom industry. 5G touts improved data rates and low latency and it has the potential to change the telecom industry right to its core. With 5G, more data can flow with less delay. This increase in speed paves the way for alternatives to traditional communication routes. And, customers have less tolerance if speed or quality of service drops.
Why the fascination with speed? The better you can imitate a face-to-face conversation, the happier customers will be. Immediacy is the name of the game when providing your customer with service.
5G places higher standards on the services telecommunications companies provide. But, at the same time a way to meet those standards. Improved data rates and low latency mean better, faster ways to provide service to your customer.
Demand for traditional services is decreasing
Voice calls are no longer the number one way in which people communicate. For that matter, neither is traditional text messaging.
Messaging apps have drawn traffic away from traditional avenues of communication. Mobile messaging apps have more than 2 billion users. The appeal of messaging apps is that they:
- Meet customers where they already are.
- Have the ability to incorporate useful features such as ecommerce.
- Improve customer experience.
Video calls are also taking precedence over traditional voice calls. COVID-19 really expanded the way customers need to communicate with each other. Without the ability to meet face-to-face customers began to depend on video calls to achieve the in-person meetings they were missing out on.
Lastly messaging, video, and voice calls are able to be carried out over wifi. Customers no longer depend on their cellular service provider to stay connected.
Telecommunication companies will be able to adapt to this shift. They can begin to work with messaging apps or even begin to incorporate some of their own messaging apps into the pool. Video calls can also be incorporated into the platforms or services telecommunications companies provide.
The internet of things (IoT) and network security
The scope of the internet of things (IoT) is large and getting larger. By definition it is the network of things that are connected to the internet. Think smart climate control, pet treat dispensers, or wearables like the FitBit. Smart phones and PC’s are generally excluded from the IoT. Data is collected from the IoT for the purpose of making the world a safer, healthier, and more productive place.
The IoT posed a few problems for telecommunications companies in 2020.
- The amount of data telecommunications companies are predicted to have to handle is massive. Tech analyst company IDC predicts there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices generating 79.4 zettabytes of data by 2025. Wow. That’s a lot of data.
- Network security. The IoT poses a major security threat to users simply in the way that it works. If the network things are connected to is not very secure, users are left vulnerable to attack. Take for example color changing light bulbs that you have the ability to change using a mobile app. Connect these lightbulbs to the internet using your wifi that is in turn also connected to your desktop computer. A nefarious passerby need only notice your color changing light bulbs to place a pretty safe bet on a successful next target.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can have the devices “learn” from their data and experience. Telecommunication companies can then leverage this data to improve upon their networks, making them more secure simply by the input of the devices using them. And, while there is so much data, AI can help suss and sort what is helpful in improving the system.
The rise of the conscious customer
An IEEE study found the telecommunications companies are some of the biggest consumers of energy. In 2020, customers increasingly demand providers of goods and services to be green and ethical (or at the very least, making strides towards achieving this goal).
While this poses a problem in terms of needing to rework and upgrade a system, in the long run telecommunications companies will benefit from this shift. Green energy is cheaper energy and appealing to customers demands is always beneficial. Earning a B corp certification can take telecommunications far.
The technology landscape is fast changing but with careful planning and foresight about lessons learned in 2020, telecom can shape up for a promising 2021.