Underlying trends propel telecoms sector in 2016
Looking towards 2016 the underlying trends of mobile broadband; M2M; Cloud computing; OTT services and Big Data management will continue to propel the broader telecoms sector ahead. In addition, further advancements in wearable technologies are expected and attention will turn more and more towards 5G infrastructure.
Generally speaking, mobile penetration continues to vary widely throughout the world. In Europe, nearly 80% of the population were unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014, while in Sub-Saharan Africa the figure was only 39%. But the developing regions are where we will see most growth in the years through to 2020.
Mobile broadband access using the 3G and now the 4G/LTE networks has continued to expand as users add tablets, modems and phones as alternative communication methods and connection to cloud based services. In the longer term, with the increase in connected devices and the growth in availability of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, the amount of mobile data downloaded is likely to at least double yearly for the next few years.
5G technology is now well and truly under development. While there are no firm standards in place, the industry is working hard at making that happen. In the meantime, the early movers are testing their own versions of the 5G technology and this is giving us information about what we can expect – what the technology will be able to deliver.
Key developments will include M2M and IoT infrastructure, facilitating the development of smart homes, buildings and cities. Many of these applications will be opened up partly through the use of 4G LTE-Advanced – a halfway house on the way to full 5G. Commercial 5G is not expected to become available in any significant way until around 2020, with full deployment expected towards the end of that decade.
Benefiting from any advancement in infrastructure is the recent ‘sharing economy’ movement which delivers a whole new range of ideas and services. Often utilising our modern digital tools of smart phones, apps, location based technology, near-field communications, fixed broadband, social networks, m-payments etc – the notion is to share excess goods and services with the broader community, sometimes for profit. In particular - mobile apps are being developed in order for consumers to easily access the shared opportunities.
Fixed broadband deployment will continue to make headway in 2016 with the majority of countries now having a national broadband network plan or policy in place. Ever since BuddeComm first became involved in developing policies and strategies for countries relating to what are now known as national broadband networks, we have argued that those taking part in the strategic decision-making processes of designing these networks should look, not at what broadband can do now, but at what high-speed broadband can do to assist countries to create the best opportunities for future developments.
Cloud computing has become one of the fastest growing areas for the IT sector and cloud computing solutions are being adopted by enterprises; government and consumers alike. In 2016 cloud computing will be virtually main-stream in the developed markets for the larger enterprises. Few people realise the enormous impact that cloud computing is already making.
- - Most small and medium-sized businesses still need to start on the road to cloud computing.
- - Large enterprises are allocating a significant proportion of IT budgets towards cloud solutions.
- - The leading cloud technology vendors are now all looking towards new markets to apply their technology. Boosting government uptake of cloud solutions, the emerging markets (particularly China) and mobile cloud computing are all key areas of interest.
- - We will see the rise of mega data centres in the coming years.
- - Interest in 5G is accelerating and the ITU has formalised that the industry name for it will be IMT-2020.
- - The telecommunications sector is the largest user of outsourcing services globally.
- - Wireless devices are soon to overtake wired devices in terms of IP traffic and in 2016 will account for over 50% of Internet traffic.
- - Cyber-physical systems are an emerging area that won’t replace the IoT/M2M backbone of sensor-driven smart infrastructure/cities, but it will build upon it.
- - Thanks to improvements in sensor technology and apps, together with consumer adoption of smart technologies generally – wearable technologies have become a thriving growth area.