5 Emerging Trends In The Telecommunication Sector

Published on
January 13, 2022
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Introduction: Emerging Trends In The Telecommunication Sector

The telecommunications industry has undergone an immense transformation over the past decade, but this is minor in comparison to what's to come. The RECOVAR Team sat down to discuss five emerging trends in the telecommunications sector that will be prominent in 2022 and beyond – we've covered them in detail below!

Feel free to contact the team or leave a comment on our socials to let us know what trends you believe will emerge over the next year and decade. We're always interested to gather feedback from our readers!

Major Trend 1: Speed

We all want things faster, right? As the rollout of next-generation technologies occurs across the globe, people are getting faster and more reliable connections than ever before. In particular, 5G and fibre have brought incredible speeds, increasingly reaching up to 100Mbps-200Mbps and 300Mbps, respectively.

Most importantly, speed is becoming accessible to more than just the rich as Openreach rolls out fibre at record rates in the UK. This will occur across the globe as international service providers follow suit parallel to copper switch off.

Additionally, analysts predict there will be close to 1.9 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by 2024, meaning those who don't have fibre may still have access to ultrafast connections.

On top of the speed benefits that 5G deployment brings, there are also substantial global economic benefits that will further accelerate this trend (Qualcomm):

  • $22.8m jobs created
  • $13.1tr of global economic output
  • $265b global 5G investment and R&D annually over the next 15 years

Major Trend 2: Carbon Neutral Acceleration

The technology industry must be committed to reaching net-zero by 2050, but this goal will be tough to hit. Made even more challenging by the growing ease of access to technology and the internet.

Information and Communication Technology will use 20% of the world's electricity, creating up to 5.5% of emissions by 2025. Inevitably, much of this demand will be from storing and transmitting data from billions of online devices powered by fossil fuels.

On top of this, mobile users are also steadily increasing. By 2025 we're expected to reach 5.9 billion global mobile users, which, combined with 5G rollout, will cause data usage to soar. This increase in population that has access to the internet also requires an immense amount of resources - both through materials to create new phones and devices and electricity needed to power connections.

For example, the carbon cost of a minute of phone usage is ~57g, or "about the same as an apple or a large gulp of beer" (source), meaning for a below-average use user, their phone will generate close to 50kg CO2e per year. For users who use their phones for an hour a day, the annual CO2e output jumps by 73kg (source).

The carbon cost of a minute of phone usage is about 57g, - about the same as an apple.
The carbon cost of a minute of phone usage is about 57g, about the same as an apple - Mike Berners-Lee

To counteract the immense growth in energy usage and resource consumption while also meeting the demand of their customers, operators will need to accelerate their carbon neutral efforts. This may require leaning heavily on the circular economy and renewable energy sources.

The industry has been carbon neutral-focussed for some time now - 100% of BT's energy consumption has come from renewable sources since 2020 and the firm aims to be carbon neutral by 2045. However, we expect to see more innovation and larger budgets to hit the targets set globally, indicated by a Vodafone study showing that 51% of companies are yet to (but will need to) develop a clear strategy for investment in sustainability with a clearly defined budget (source).

Check out this blog from Mobile Magazine, which explores how telecom operators can be a part of a sustainable future.

Emerging Trends In The Telecommunication Sector #3 - IoT Devices

IoT devices and sensors have been rapidly changing the technological landscape in many industries. Internet of Things technology is beneficial for many aspects of people's lives, including quality-of-life and business profits. Governments can also enjoy a significant decrease in their IT costs, which benefits everyone.

Connectivity between devices, sensors, telecommunications infrastructure and the cloud enables new ways for management. This connectivity will be imperative to future growth and help manage energy consumption while also providing more intelligent environments for safer, more efficient telecoms networks.

For example, decentralised operations, condition-based monitoring, and predictive maintenance allow efficient communication between IoT devices. These IoT devices can be placed in telecommunications infrastructure to reduce cost and risk, which arises naturally from maintaining the network.

In this way, IoT automates production processes and enables the implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts in the telecom sector - something we expect to see more and more over the next decade.

Telecom Industry Trends In The Next Decade #4 - Artificial Intelligence

With all the data that IoT devices can collect and the growing traffic volume through cloud computing, Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are likely to be emerging trends in the telecommunications sector.

Digital transformation requires the collection of information from data gathered by IoT sensors and devices. Big Data can help operators see patterns and trends that contribute to success. At the same time, the internet requires higher speeds and lower latency which fuel the need for better connection management – these improvements in networks come at a cost.

Some startups and tech companies have dedicated resources to developing AI solutions that address various network performance-related problems and reduce associated costs. Telcos will likely implement these solutions as they look for innovations in the telecoms industry to maintain their competitive advantage.

Major Trend 5 - Edge Computing

The whole world has gone through a transition into the "new normal" - increased working-from-home rates and demand for connection at all times. This has added increased emphasis on customer experience and customer service.

This change has accelerated the amount of data and processing power demanded from telcos - meaning edge computing is a natural next step for providers looking to strengthen their cyber security, business models and reduce the load on data centres and the cloud.

Edge computing takes computation away from data centres to the edge of the network. Meaning telcos can speed up data processing in real-time using connected devices, which (as covered in trend 1) is expected to continue in the years to come.

If you'd like to learn more about edge computing, check out the below image and this blog from IEEE.org, which covers real-life use cases for edge computing.

Real-Life Use Cases for Edge Computing
Real-Life Use Cases for Edge Computing - IEEE.Org

Conclusion: Emerging Trends In the Telecommunication Sector

These are just five telecom industry trends in the next decade that we expect to see. These trends will likely hit most industries, and there will be an exciting amount of innovation needed to fulfil demand without having negative consequences in the future.

Major trend 2 is a crucial focus for RECOVAR. Our software digitises the inspection and recovery of telecommunications equipment - increasing the supply into the circular economy and ultimately helping telcos reduce their carbon emissions.

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