A look back at telecoms in 2018

It’s been a busy year once again in the world of telecoms. New connectivity partnerships have been struck, new government connectivity commitments announced, we’ve seen the launch of network platforms such as SD-WAN and the wheels have been put in motion to enable the eventual rollout of 5G. With so much having occurred within the industry in 2018, we take a retrospective look at the year that was.

The Government’s drive for digital connectivity

Following 2017’s Autumn Budget, the Spring Statement initiated the Government’s plans to improve the UK’s digital connectivity by allocating over £95m across 13 areas of the UK including Manchester, Coventry and The Highlands. Then, in July, the Government published a new strategy for the UK’s full fibre broadband future. As part of its Industrial Strategy, the Government has pledged to provide full fibre broadband coverage across the UK by 2033. Some, including our Chief Network Architect believe this could be even sooner.

As a result, fibre connectivity was top of the agenda for many telecoms businesses, and will continue to be so going into the new year – although lessons should be taken from the difficulties experienced with Ireland’s National Broadband Plan; where all of the initial bidders pulled out of the tendering process in July, with the project widely being perceived as financially unviable, convoluted and bureaucratic. The scheme is now allegedly back on track, but its early failure highlights how vital it is for governments to support effective plans for broadband rollout in rural areas.

The development of network architectures

We’re moving ever closer to the commercial rollout of 5G, early 2018 saw Ofcom commence the auctioning off of 5G spectrum. The auction saw O2 scoop up 40Mhz of 2.3Ghz spectrum, which can be used straight away as extra capacity for existing devices. Three, EE and Vodafone also walked away with a good share of capacity. While most current devices aren’t compatible with the 3.4Ghz spectrum, this will be crucial to the rollout of 5G networks.

Meanwhile, in other big network development news, we saw further developments in Software Defined Networking. The dynamic architecture, which allows network administrators to manage services from a centralised control system, continues to develop, with providers beginning to deliver its capabilities, such as SD-WAN. Offering more simple deployments, maintenance and operational processes as a result.

Network security in the news

From Russian hacking to mass account losses, cybercrime, data breaches and network security issues have consistently dominated the headlines in 2018. One of the biggest stories was the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which revealed millions of Facebook users had had their personal details harvested without consent and used for political purposes. The scandal heightened the debate around network security and how personal data is used – a conversation only continued by a major regulatory change which hit businesses soon after.

With the issue of network security becoming increasingly important our Chief Network Architect, Conrad Mallon, wrote a piece for SC Magazine providing network managers with insight on how to secure their networks.

The impact of GDPR

As anybody with an email inbox will have noticed, GDPR came into effect on the 25th May 2018, affecting how organisations hold, acquire and process data. Threatening penalties up to €20m or 4% of global revenue, businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors, scrambled to meet regulations before the deadline. As a result, many businesses looked carefully at everything from their compliance practices to their network security, as this plays an important part in protecting data.

It seems to be the case that end-users do now have more understanding of their data rights as a result – the Information Commissioner’s Office reports that subject access requests (SARs) and ‘right to be forgotten’ requests spiked after the implementation of GDPR.

What’s next for the world of telecoms?

The developments we’ve seen in the industry this year will set us up nicely for the year ahead. Whether it’s accelerating towards the UK’s 5G future, hybrid networks, smarter cities, or even the fate of the high street in an increasingly digital world, there will be lots to look out for in the new year. We discuss more about these trends in our SSE predictions for 2019 blog coming soon.


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