opinion


How can operators avoid becoming a dumb pipe?

dumb pipes

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Content Lead for Broadband World Forum, explores how increased connectivity is changing the role of operators, and how telcos can stake their claim in order to avoid becoming a mere dumb pipe.

In the era of hyper-connectivity, society stands on the cusp of change. We have evolved from the basic internet connections introduced two decades ago and are now edging towards real-time mobile connectivity with 4G and the convergence of the physical and digital that is being driven by the fifth-generation mobile network and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

However, with increasing complexity comes an increasing demand for bandwidth, speed and efficiency.

Network operators and the ecosystem partners that supply and work with them are the epicentre of these evolutions. They are uniquely placed to serve almost every industry and every vertical as everyone looks to innovate how they connect and how they communicate.

But the telco reality is that they are tasked with simply providing an ever-increasing bandwidth capacity simply to support these advancements – rather than being pivotal in helping to drive them forward. Thus, the question remains, how can operators leverage the emerging opportunities that increased connectivity providers in order to avoid becoming a mere ‘dumb pipe’.

The answer is different in each industry, as we briefly examine below:

Automotive

According to Ericsson’s VP of Global Sales Connected Vehicles, Jueraen Daunis, “Only 5G has the necessary capacity to make truly self-driving cars a reality from a connectivity standpoint.” It’s a pretty bold statement; one that solidifies quite how dependent the automotive industry is on operators and the wider telco ecosystem.

It is the fusion of IoT, 5G and AI that will transform the auto industry into a digital services business and thus, to stake their claim in this space, telcos are advised to partner with established digital players such as Microsoft and Google as they build their operating systems into the 250 million connected cars due on the road by next year (Gartner), as well as start-ups in the automotive space.

Malaysian operator Altel Communications, for example, allied with Chinese firm ECarX to develop car connectivity tech services for Malay car brand Proton. Industry leaders Uber and Renault will be further examining the role of connectivity and telecommunications in the automotive industry at Broadband World Forum 2019.

Cloud Gaming

Intel predicts that AR and VR entertainment will deliver cumulative revenues of $140bn between 2021

and 2028. Immersive applications that don’t even exist today could generate $67bn a year by 2028 –and the key technology underpinning this trajectory is 5G. Synched with this is the need for

edge computing; both of which will provide the speeds necessary for these next-generation gaming experiences.

Matthieu Duperre, Founder of Edgegap, summarised the position of telcos in this industry pretty succinctly when he said: “In the early 2000s, operators lost the battle against the OTT. They kind of stopped bringing value, or lost track of where they were bringing value. So, then they became the dump pipe that we’ve all heard of. What’s happening now is a unique opportunity for them to regain value and that control over the pipe and to move away from the dump pipe mentality; they own the network and the last critical mile. Betting on that last mile, and on creating an infrastructure that can’t be done by the likes of Google or Amazon, is going to be key to their success”

Smart Home

With OTT streamed content eating into their traditional pay TV subscriber revenues, and competition in broadband access intensifying, service providers need to tap new revenue streams. With established and credible consumer relationships on their side and a router into the heart of the home, network operators are well placed to exploit the opportunities related to broader management of home connectivity.

Whilst wary of being the fall guy for everything from streaming video glitches to cybersecurity, operators can leverage their position as the first point of call and take ownership of the whole home network.

“The solution is to have very effective and robust guidelines,” explains Bruno Tomas, Director of Programme Management at the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “These guidelines will effectively ask customers to commit to only using equipment provided by their telco –or their recognised partners”

Telefónica, for instance, has integrated its AI-powered digital assistant Aura with Facebook Messenger, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana. In Spain, Aura is built into Movistar Home, which Telefónica aims to become home hub for user management of all connected devices.

 

Broadband World Forum’s latest report – Staking Telco’s Place in a Connected World – dives deeper into the role of operators in each of the above industries as well as numerous others. To download this report for free, simply click here. Want to stay ahead in the broadband industry? Discover the latest technology trends and solutions from leaders in the broadband universe with a free visitor ticket to Broadband World Forum (October 15-17, Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Your ticket gives you access to 25+ hours of content delivered by leading speakers, 150+ technology providers from Tier 1’s to startups in our expo hall and endless networking opportunities with the 4,100+ leaders in attendance. Click here to claim your free ticket.


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