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There are reasons for optimism in 2022

It might not feel like it right now, but there are many reasons to hope the world will bounce back strongly next year.

Much of the world is currently in the grip of the latest Covid variant – Omicron – which appears to be the most contagious version yet. The good news is that it seems to be significantly less harmful than previous variants and coincides with high levels of vaccination, meaning that going into the new year a lot of people will have acquired augmented natural immunity, which should be more prolonged and robust than through vaccination alone.

This (double vaxed) writer has been dealing with what he assumes to be Omicron for the past week, which is why we couldn’t bring you the final podcast of the year. It hasn’t been pleasant – especially the body-ache and accompanying physical and mental lethargy – but if it results in the removal of the Covid sword of Damocles then it still feels like a small price to pay. Of course everyone should still take every precaution they see fit, and we’re not out of the woods yet, but this just could be the beginning of the end of this uniquely challenging period.

We have all become obsessed with data in the search for clarity over the nature, trajectory and implications of this pandemic. With the sadly inevitable politicisation of the matter, data is frequently cherry-picked, manipulated and occasionally even fabricated in order to paint a partisan picture. It’s still too early to confidently conclude Omicron is the beginning of the end – and this piece could well age badly – but the data should offer some clarity before long.

The vaccination programme has, thankfully, already manifested itself in a decoupling of infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths. If the current Omicron pandemic does end up conferring natural immunity on a significant proportion of the population of many countries, we may start to see infection rates drop off as soon as January. If that trend continues as the year progresses then people – even public policy makers – may start daring to be cautiously optimistic.

While the telecoms world has coped exceptionally well under the circumstances, you have to wonder how much better it would have fared in a less cautious investment climate. Additionally we have been starved of our customary regular opportunities to get together in person, talk shop and generally celebrate what we all do for a living. Yes, we’ve had Zoom, but it’s not the same is it? While CES is suffering at the hands of Omicron, the whole telecoms industry will be crossing its fingers that the dust has settled by the time MWC comes around at the end of February.

Even if it hasn’t, there must surely be so much pent-up demand and energy in the global economy that some kind of rebound is likely. The bounce that accompanied the announcement of the first vaccines stalled over the course of 2021, as it became clear they weren’t a panacea, but an increasing proportion of people now seem to want to get on with their lives. We all have bills to pay and lives to lead and, if nothing else, this experience has given everyone a crash course in risk calculation.

On the technological side, the telecoms industry has never been more central to how the world is run. 5G subscriptions are booming despite everything and there are increasing signs of it starting to deliver on its biggest promise – the integration of wireless connectivity into other industries. Meanwhile the global lockdowns have accelerated the trend towards telecoms-dependent activities such as remote working, teleconferencing, and automation.

It has been a challenging year for everyone, including us (so we’re taking a week or so off), but there are growing reasons to be cautiously optimistic that our stoicism will be rewarded next year. So here’s hoping everyone has a good time over the holiday period (loss of a sense of taste permitting) and emerges in the new year in good health and full of resolve to bounce back stronger than ever. See you then.

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3 comments

  1. Avatar Kevin Taylor 24/12/2021 @ 1:45 pm

    Cracking piece Scott. All the best for 2023; and I agree, there is good cause for optimism going forward, even as we remain cautious (so to speak).
    Kevin

  2. Avatar ernest worthman 24/12/2021 @ 4:21 pm

    good end of year note, Scott… and I certainly hope you are right 🙂

  3. Avatar Alan J Weissberger 24/12/2021 @ 6:04 pm

    Much needed and appreciated post Scott. I think the most important telecom trends for 2022 will be:

    1. Co-operation between telcos and major cloud service providers to build 5G SA core networks, 5G private networks, and 5G MEC.

    2. LEO satellite internet become more widely available

    3. Fiber build outs and especially programmable FTTX solutions (pFTTX)

    4. Open RAN either becomes a real business or fades away

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