As we discussed in our 2018 review blog, there was plenty of momentum in the telecoms sector this year. As new technological developments help drive a number of changes throughout the industry in 2019, we fully expect to see this continue. Below we discuss some of the major trends that we expect to see next year.
Greater demand will mean network expansion
Mobile data usage is set to skyrocket over the next few years, with forecasts showing UK users could end up consuming a staggering 18GB of data a month. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will need to provide this, as consumers and businesses (not to mention technologies like smart city devices) increasingly rely on high-speed access.
MNOs also need to continue preparing for the advent of 5G, with a number of 5G-compatible devices set to arrive throughout 2019. As it stands, EE currently has the most spectrum overall, following the 5G spectrum auction in April 2019. But with an additional 116Mhz of spectrum set to be auctioned off in late 2019 – including spectrum in even higher bandwidths – this could change, with all four major networks keen to establish themselves as 5G leaders.
Of course, the rollout of 5G will also rest heavily on a robust level of investment into infrastructure – and with European tech giants already concerned that this isn’t happening, it’s likely 2019 will see MNOs and telecoms companies calling for further vital investment.
Smarter cities and creative innovation
AI, smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT) – these technologies will revolutionise the way we live. Heavily dependent on 5G networks to work effectively, and therefore the deployments we expect to see develop throughout 2019, we expect to see momentum around these technologies develop as cities have their 5G capabilities switched on. To function successfully, smart cities and IoT devices will rely on a proliferation of high-bandwidth, low latency connections. Meaning, whatever method this ends up being delivered through, the telecoms industry will be called upon to provide this. So, 2019 should see a great deal of investment and innovation in this area.
More companies will embrace the capabilities of blockchain
Blockchain, the public online ledger, is a technology with truly exciting prospects in the next couple of years. Its uses have moved beyond the world of cryptocurrencies, and it’s now being hailed as a technology that can help data-holding companies improve security and efficiency. Blockchain can streamline processes like customer switching and settlement, saving valuable admin time and help reduce their costs. Although in principal blockchain can address a series of issues, the realities of the technology are yet to be proven. 2019 could however see some interesting inroads in how the technology can be utilised with water companies already investigating how blockchain can help them efficiently distribute physical commodities and, ultimately, aid the creation of smart cities.
Digital innovation could help save the high street
2018 has been a challenging year for the high street, with store closures facing both small retailers and big-name department store brands such as House of Fraser. To survive in 2019 and beyond, retailers will need to enhance their in-store experience – and it’s not just a case of offering in-store WiFi. Digital innovations, like augmented reality and Near-field communication (NFC), could transform the world of physical shopping. But again, this will require high-speed, robust connectivity, so telcos will need to be ready to provide this.
Whatever happens in physical stores, a brand’s digital offering will continue to become more important. More businesses may move away from physical premises and the costs associated with this (from core networks to rents and business rates), relying instead on digital services delivered over the cloud. As the requirements of business customers change, so too do Telcos to ensure they can support the ever-changing retail environments.
The growing demand for data
The common thread across most of these predictions? The way our world works is set to become ever more digitally driven, and with all of these developments comes a growing demand for high-bandwidth, low latency and secure data connectivity. The telecoms industry will play a huge part in enabling this – so everybody needs to be prepared to innovate and invest in order to make this happen.
This is why SSE Enterprise Telecoms has committed to unbundle an additional 177 BT exchanges over the next two years, growing our network by 132% and enabling us to reach an additional 180,000 UK business postcodes. This will enable over 435,000 businesses to improve their connectivity speeds up to 100Gbps.