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To infinity & beyond: Telecommunications trends in 2020

What are the top telecommunication trends taking place this year? Find out about AI, mobile tech, 5G, hyperscalers and more in this telecom overview in 2020.

Image: Pixabay

No longer limited to providing basic phone and internet service, the telecom industry is at the epicenter of technological growth. Network operators worldwide face increased traffic driven by the rise of video consumption and mobile device use. With the explosion of IoT devices and imminent 5G rollouts, that growth will accelerate.

Communications service providers (CSPs) provide the essential connectivity infrastructure for functioning and growing in the digital economy, which results in a growing demand for broadband access. They face increasing demands for higher quality services and better customer experience (CX). The technological innovations available today were the musings of yesteryear’s sci-fi aficionados. The capabilities of telecom advancement know no bounds. 

Telecommunications are among the most dynamic industries and sensitive to technological advances. Currently, the paradigm shift to 5G, AI, and IoT is well underway. In 2020, adoption of these technologies will increase and we will see the transformation of the Internet of Things, blockchain technology, edge computing, cloud-based services, and 5G Internet connectivity among the many telecom trends of 2020.

As 2020 unfolds, many new technologies hold promise to transform the service providers’ space. This is driving competition, giving rise to a variety of promising start-up companies, and challenging existing frameworks and systems like never before. In this article, we will explore several telecommunication trends for 2020.

5G Technology Hits the Scene

verizon 5g speedtest
Image: Sascha Segan / PCMag

Much has been made about 5G technology and its radical implications for Internet connectivity, broadband width, and near-zero latency. Fifth-generation wireless technology is touted as the most reliable Internet to date. It is geared towards business and consumer customers and facilitates the creation, adoption, and roll-out of never-before-seen technologies like self-driving vehicles on a mass scale, smart cities, autonomous robots, and the like. 

Already, AT&T has rolled out 5G technology to scores of cities across the US. If all goes according to plan, AT&T will have nationwide coverage in the first half of 2020. All other major US carriers are also on track to roll out 5G technology, including T-Mobile and Verizon. Such is the incredible potential of 5G connectivity, that experts anticipate 1 GB access increasing to 10 GB access, and 10 GB access moving up to 100 GB access.

Owing to the massive demand for 5G, one cannot help reading about it in every networking guide, telecom forum, and techie site. There are many benefits to adopting 5G technology, including a network’s capacity to handle greater density more reliably than ever before. In Europe, 5G is being deployed in many countries and cities, with service providers like Telefonica and Vodafone already fast-tracking this breakthrough technology. 

Thanks to 5G, interconnected devices will have access to many additional services, connecting customers, companies, and governments around the world. The applications are seemingly endless, and this is only the beginning of what is surely going to be the next revolution in technological innovation. 

Build Service Provider Networks Like Hyperscalers

The future of networks is going in the direction of big clouds and hyperscalers. The unique nature of hyperscalers makes them most effective in terms of reducing the computing and storage costs while supporting growing data bandwidth, There are several dozen companies that qualify for the hyperscale status, including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. These companies’ combined operations support scores of hyperscale data centers, representing a large portion of overall data, traffic, and processing power in today’s data centers, and disrupting the traditional data center.

A notable example of building networks like hyperscalers is the startup DriveNets. DriveNets’ Network Cloud adopted the architectural philosophy of hyperscalers and adapted it to networking. Their Network Cloud solution is a cloud-native software, disaggregated from the shared infrastructure of white boxes on which it runs. This can grow linearly to an unprecedented scale – supporting the largest core and edge networks in the world. It can run any service on any port that is shared with the Network Cloud infrastructure.

DriveNets truly disrupts the service provider space with its separation of hardware and software, using networking white boxes to create a fully converged shared infrastructure, and a flat software pricing model. This strong combination will allow operators to break vendor lock-in, scale up capacity, rollout services faster, and grow margins.

Ensuring Security around Operations

tls connection security

No discussion of telecommunication trends in 2020 would be complete without bringing in security, privacy, and robustness of operations. The privacy of information is sacrosanct, and digital privacy is increasingly demanded by users across the board. In fact, this is such a hot-topic issue that the European Union even made sweeping changes to its data protection laws with the adoption of GDPR. From a security perspective, networks must do a much better job in 2020 than they did in 2019. 

Not only were major telecom networks like Sprint hacked multiple times in 2019, but many other companies face similar cybersecurity threats. As software continues to define network infrastructure, this leaves them susceptible to acting like bad actors for infiltrating the networks. In 2020, expect to see the growth of widespread encryption-based technology, for both virtual and physical infrastructures.

In 2020, the world will be more interconnected than ever before. Cybersecurity initiatives are necessary protections against exposure to malware, adware, viruses, Trojans, and other risks. As such, solutions with a ‘protection focus’ will be invaluable to the security, privacy, and robustness of operations of telecommunications networks this year. Companies will naturally be looking to adopt the latest technologies to guard against bad actors, while simultaneously having a minimal effect on existing frameworks, systems and risk factors.

AI Drives Telecom

In 2020, AI will be essential for helping CSPs build self-optimizing networks (SONs), which give operators the ability to automatically optimize network quality based on traffic information by region and time zone. AI-driven predictive analytics can help telcos provide better services by using data, sophisticated algorithms and machine learning techniques to predict future outcomes based on historical data.

This means operators can use data-driven insights to monitor the state of equipment, anticipate failure based on patterns, and proactively fix problems with communications hardware, such as cell towers, power lines, data center servers, and even set-top boxes in customers’ homes. AT&T has brought an innovative solution that uses AI to support its maintenance procedures. The company is testing a drone to expand its LTE network coverage and to utilize the analysis of video data captured by the drones for tech support and maintenance of its cell towers.

Conclusion: What to Expect for Telecommunications in 2020

There is no question that the success or failure of telecoms now depends on their rate of adoption for burgeoning technology. In 2020, telecoms need to maintain a competitive edge, by remaining flexible, agile, and supporting growing capacity in order to capture more opportunities. Companies will be better ready to address these issues by adopting the technologies in these trends.

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