By Steven Van Zanen,
Head of Product Management
With all the developments in telecommunications it’s hard to believe that we are living the early days of the age of Mobility. Already it is having a profound impact on how we live our lives and how we run our businesses. Only a decade ago, voice minutes were the primary revenue source for mobile operators; today’s data revenues are projected to reach $633 billion globally and make up 52% of overall mobile revenue by 2018. Penetration of 4G LTE will reach new highs in 2015, while the Internet of Things will accelerate convergence, connecting millions of the un-connected, thus paving the way for incredible opportunities and entirely new business models. In 2015 this journey continues unabated with the following trends:
#1: VOICE OVER LTE(VoLTE)
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) forecasts that the total number of commercial LTE networks is expected to exceed 350 by end 2014. According to the GSMA about 20 per cent of the global population is currently within LTE network coverage range. As more VoLTE-compatible phones hit the global market in 2015 (in addition to the iPhone 6) these will help drive significant uptake in VoLTE calls. For operators this brings closer the dream of a convergent network for all IP services, instead of having to maintain both 3G and 4G technology, for voice calls mainly. According to ABI Research there will be 59.6 million VoLTE subscriptions by the end of 2014, and over half (56%) of LTE-related subscriptions will be using VoLTE services by the end of 2019.
Steven Van Zanen,
Head of Product Management and Marketing,
#2: INTERNET OF THINGS/IOT
There are few developments that will drive change faster and more profound than the Internet Of Things. IoT brings together networks, devices, machine-to-machine (M2M) and over-the-top (OTT) applications in an unprecedented way. In 2015 we will see further maturing of this ecosystem. We expect to see new technologies, ranging from LTE chipsets enabling IoT devices to creative mobile and online (M2M and Cloud) IoT applications, supporting services for different verticals such as home, healthcare, transportation, automation, logistics and more. According to Goldman Sachs IoT will cover over 28 billion devices, compared to 6 billion for mobile devices and 1 billion for fixed-line connections. The revenue opportunity is clear for all to see.
#3: LTE SIGNALING
Not many people are aware of this: all services over broadband networks, in mobile, Wi-Fi and fixed-line, for legacy as well as Next Generation networks, rely on signaling. The signaling between network systems ensures connections are setup and controlled, and service settings are enforced. With the emergence of LTE and IP based networks, the Diameter signaling protocol came into play. The Diameter Signaling Controller (DSC) is a key element for managing Diameter signaling in 3G, LTE networks and IP Multimedia Systems (IMS). The DSC was initially meant as a single purpose network element, destined to route Diameter signaling traffic. Increasingly in 2015 operators will be looking for a Next Generation DSC, as a central ‘hub’ for all signaling, not just Diameter. This will provide them with a single solution for interworking, routing and services orchestration across mobile, fixed, Wi-Fi, IMS and IT. In 2015, Next Generation DSCs will play an increasingly important role in enabling fixed-mobile convergence, mobile profile portability, machine-to-machine, integration of OTT and Enterprise services, network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) etc. We will see the first signs that Next Generation DSCs will start to improve the innovation power of operators and time-to-market for IP based services in a fundamental way.
#4: VIRTUALIZATION (SDN/NFV)
No prediction for 2015 is complete without pointing at the reality of SDN and NFV in particular. 2014 was the year of proof-of-concepts and trials of vEPC, vIMS etc. Although some people doubt 2015 will be the year of SDN, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of technology and network operations, discussing the reality of the AT&T “Domain 2.0” initiative, said “we embrace SDN because there’s no army that can hold back an economic principle whose time has come”. According to Infonetics Research, the global carrier SDN and NFV hardware and software market will grow from less than $500 million in 2013 to over $11 billion in 2018. At BroadForward we foresee that more operators will demand hardware independent core network applications in 2015. Further reduction of operational expenses and need to increase flexibility, enabling differentiation and faster time to market, will continue to drive this development.
#5: FIXED - MOBILE CONVERGENCE - FMC
Who would have thought a few years ago that in 2014 Vodafone would be propagating that it is now one of Europe's largest fixed broadband providers? In addition, they recently announced the launch of a TV set-top box, combining satellite, cable, IPTV and over-the-top (OTT) programming on one box. In a reverse case, British Telecom is negotiating the acquisition of O2 UK, the mobile operator. BroadForward sees this trend continue in 2015 with almost all major operator groups looking to offer and monetize services across mobile and fixed. A key element in this initiative is the ability to enable mobile profile portability; the ability to apply central policy control and charging across access technologies. Leveraging the enhanced policy control and charging capabilities in the operator network, this enables OTT providers, such as Netflix, to offer a consistent quality-of-service to its customers, whatever the device they use or whatever network they are on. At the same time we expect this will further fuel the - already heated - net neutrality debate.