New decade, new vision? The telecoms sector in 2020

Time moves fast in technology and telecoms. It doesn’t feel like long since we made our big plans for 2019. And now in what feels like the blink of an eye we’re at the end of the year, the end of the decade, and looking forward to an exciting, innovative era in the 2020s.

What will 2020 bring?

Darkness bringing light

Dark Fibre has been a hot topic in telecommunications circles for a while now. The potential for it to boost connectivity through vast untapped capacity – and to aid with the ongoing rollout of 5G – means we can expect even more activity in 2020. Particularly with Ofcom’s announcement on Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA), which will open the door to many new providers.

Still, issues remain in its path. So it’s important that network providers in 2020 persevere with the mission to offer Dark Fibre (and Dark-Fibre like) services, partnering with other industry experts where necessary to ensure viable solutions are available.

Fibre in the shires

There have been innovative advances made in urban connectivity, and in overcoming network challenges in cities (our fibre in the sewers project being just one of them).

Yet, we’re a way off from the nationwide connectivity boost that’s going to be fundamental to the UK’s economic development. The fact remains that many rural areas struggle with basic connectivity needs. Never mind the super-fast challenges that trouble the metropolitan connectivity elite (to twist a popular 2019 term).

The fibre-to-the-home moves made this year have been great, and double the number of homes now have ‘full fibre’ from last year. However, despite significant growth, this still only equates to 10% of UK premises.

Clearly more needs to happen in 2020. Not least because solving regional connectivity has huge advantages for all sectors. The future of modern businesses will see more people operating remotely, away from the trappings of a conventional office environment. They’ll need fast, reliable access to data and tools, just like their colleagues at (what’s left of their) HQ. Better connectivity can also be a huge piece of the puzzle in regional regeneration work.

Outsmarted by our devices

Cities, cars, fridges. You name it, it’s got a smart future. And the 2020s will be the decade we will really notice things take a massive leap forward.

For one, we’ll see smart grids become part of everyday life, as energy firms look to move into a new world of highly efficient and robust provision to customers. We’re well-versed in this, working with Synaptec on a technical partnership to provide powerline condition monitoring services. This will give energy providers real-time data on a number of key variables, ensuring their power networks are at their most effective and efficient – a key step in becoming truly smart.

And smart won’t stop there. The 2020s will see big developments, with autonomous vehicles and connected devices growing in popularity, and people seeing real change from early on the decade.

In terms of what this looks like smart city-wise, we’ll see the continued roll out of IoT sensors to collect the data that will help urban planners make more informed decisions and enable self-driving cars to navigate congested city centres. While emergency services will benefit from more reliable data, supplied in real time, to assist people in their moment of greatest need. For example, by pre-empting potential issues in policing, or ensuring the right level of response in urgent care.

Public behaviour will evolve, too. Richer, technology-led retail experiences will change the high street, while consumer-led sectors like banking will continue to do more with tech. Real-time banking is a great example of this – an intensely data-dependent service, that more and more people are already coming to expect as standard.

The uniting factor here is capacity and pressure on the network. Some sources predict that there will be more than 75 billion IoT connected devices come 2025 (up from an estimated 30 billion in 2020). A sensor rich, data greedy, IoT and AI focused world demands speed, efficiency and reliability.

And it’s infrastructure that has to support this, providing the high capacity, robust and secure connectivity needs of an exciting, but complex, digital future.

2020 in your industry

What are the predictions for your industry in 2020? And what made the difference in 2019? With digital transformation and modernisation on the agenda for all, it’s likely the past decade has been one of constant change, with more to come.

Share your thoughts with us. And in the meantime, take a look at how we’re improving and transforming network connectivity, and helping to build the UK’s 5G future.

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