This Industry Viewpoint was contributed by Chris Alberding, VP, Product Management, FairPoint Communications
Operating within a highly demanding market that requires business agility to address competitive and customer pressures, telecommunications companies are striving to become more operationally efficient, deliver new service models and enhance customer experience.
Technology advances, and business and consumer demands are spurring change in the market landscape. Working against this backdrop, here are five telecommunications-related trends to watch:
Broadband Demand Grows Unceasingly. Demand for increased bandwidth for consumers and businesses has grown exponentially in recent years, and this growth trend will continue. Cloud services, the Internet of Things, smart homes and video will increase customer bandwidth needs, as well as the pressure on network providers to deliver it. Fiber and Ethernet-based services bring the bandwidth needed to provide a more dependable Web experience. And they are becoming a necessity for organizations, such as retailers, hospitality, multi-dwelling residences and more. For example, it is not uncommon for one family to show up at a hotel with five or more mobile devices – all ready for video, gaming and other high-bandwidth applications. Also, there will be a continued push for service providers to bring broadband to traditionally underserved or unserved areas, such as remote locations, to help these communities stay connected to the world.
Over-the-Top-Video Adoption Goes Over the Top. Consumption of over-the-top video will continue to grow with cable and IPTV subscriptions on the decline – with consumers using an array of devices including smart phones, tablets and gaming consoles to access traditional and non-traditional TV and video content. Look for cable operators and content providers to market their own over-the-top video solutions to customers, operating under the principle it is better to move some of their customer base to a lower-cost service than lose them all. And watch for new offerings that combine local broadcast TV channels with streaming TV services. Over-the-top services fuel increased bandwidth demands for network providers and customers.
Municipal Broadband at a Crossroad. Most cities and towns view broadband as “must have” infrastructure to attract businesses and provide new opportunities for citizens. This is leading some municipalities to consider investing in and building their own fiber network. Increasingly, the decision to leverage existing infrastructure or build new infrastructure will be based on examining bandwidth needs, costs, technology lifecycles, and maintenance and customer support requirements. Through these reviews, it will become more apparent to localities that managing network facilities is a complex, costly proposition in the long term that doesn’t capitalize on their core strengths. Municipalities may also find that existing infrastructure, or existing infrastructure with minimal upgrades, can deliver the same benefits for less cost. This may lead cities and towns to pause to consider whether a municipal broadband network may be creating a “white elephant” situation in the future.
Small Cells Moving to Big Time. Mobile data traffic will continue its fast-growth pace, driven primarily by social and video applications. Mobile operators will need to update their networks constantly to address this demand. Small cells can help mobile operators increase network capacity and coverage, and improve the customer experience. Within the next year, wireless carriers will likely select a preference for traditional lit services or dark fiber (or a hybrid of both) to support their small cell backhaul deployments. Service providers must be ready to support either approach. Wireless carriers may also start considering more turnkey “small cell as a service” options when evaluating small cell providers – especially if they don’t have an extensive profile in the market. Outsourcing support for site readiness, power, permits and ancillary vendors, as well as ongoing operations and maintenance of small cells, may be the best option for wireless carriers that need to keep their networks running over the long term.
Enterprise Adoption of Voice Over IP Grows. Over the past few years, IP-based unified voice and data communications solutions have been on an upward trajectory with small businesses as the primary driving force. Deployments by larger companies will increase as these organizations look to replace aging phone systems with feature-rich technology. In the last two years, many of these organizations have started choosing between hosted Private Branch Exchange (hosted PBX) and Session Initiated Protocol trunking (SIP trunking) solutions. With improved capabilities, like full-featured automatic call distribution (ACD), video integration and robust reporting, it is becoming more practical for larger organizations to go with IP-based solutions over a traditional on-premise system.
CHRIS ALBERDING, FairPoint Communications, Vice President, Product Management
Chris is the Vice President responsible for Product Management at FairPoint Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications technology in northern New England and 14 other states across the U.S.
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