The past year was marked by an increasingly rapid shift toward digital transformation, causing ripples through industries of all types and sizes. For the telecom industry, one major takeaway is the evolving standards of what defines a good mobile experience: now, more than ever, telcos and subscribers alike place a huge emphasis on optimum user experience, personalization and security. As a result, we can expect to see developments in mobile technology to incorporate these principles and keep subscribers content.
Here are six trends that we expect to take 2017 by storm:
#1: Operators will get serious about making revenue from Advanced Communications and Messaging as a Platfrom (Rich Communication Services or RCS)
Google and Samsung have jumped on the RCS (or advanced communications) bandwagon, making it officially mainstream. This was underpinned by the recent launch of the GSMA’s new Universal Profile, reigniting even more life into the service, which has truly been around the houses. But what will really enable RCS to be a success now – and how will operators create additional revenues as a result? One line of thought is Messaging as a Platform (MaaP); stemming from RCS and providing operators with the opportunity to monetize messaging by opening up access to more content across the domain. MaaP creates a new hybrid model, in which app developers, enterprises, and other players, can build applications to send and receive messages, offering users a more seamless and efficient way to interact, and enabling new application-to-person (A2P) use cases. It will also interwork with legacy and IP messaging services as communication services transition, which is a critical capability given how fast technology moves today. In fact, this is also another specification being driven by the GSMA and expected to launch in Q2 2017, which includes APIs, plug-in integration, improved authentication and app security.
#2: Operators will turn the tables on A2P spam and fraud by turning it into a revenue generator
A2P bypass fraud impacts subscribers, enterprises and operators – from reduced network service availability, to poor subscriber satisfaction and, of course, operator revenue loss. In fact, there is an estimated $6 billion annual loss of revenue due to SMS fraud. But, operators actually have the opportunity to monetize additional A2P revenue currently lost to bypass fraud through advanced grey route detection and control. Grey routes are sometimes referred to as “special carrier arrangements,” “settlement by-pass” or other unclear terms but are generally defined as a legal connection between two parties that is being exploited by a third party to route traffic at the lowest rate possible by manipulating the origination or termination information. By blocking all bypass routes on their network, operators can convert losses into A2P revenue, while also better protecting their network and their subscribers, therefore, increasing customer satisfaction.
#3: Operators will prioritize support for 5G and IoT
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In anticipation of 5G’s full-scale arrival in 2020, CSPs will continue modernizing their networks to accommodate and deliver ever-richer digital services and support the exploding traffic from IoT. With an estimated 5 billion users connected to 5 devices each by 2020, operators will further develop their services and work to modernize legacy networks. The range of envisaged 5G use-cases each has its own needs for bandwidth, latency, transmission quality and variations of these over time, and mobile operators must be prepared. With legacy (2 and 3G) networks to be shut down from 2017 onwards (yes, that’s this year!), there will be even more pressure for mobile operators to ready their networks and make way for 5G and IoT.
#4: The rise of mobile cybercrime
As mobile users continue to be unaware of the mobile dangers, 2017 will most likely see an explosion of mobile cybercrime as fraudsters further exploit the vulnerabilities in mobile phones and the networks that support them. The good news is that CSPs have the power to take action before their customers and their bottom line are significantly hit. CSPs should position themselves as a trusted partner – not only by better protecting their networks, but also by providing their customers with guidance on how to better protect themselves. If they hope to combat the looming threats, CSPs must maintain a strong back-end infrastructure, with comprehensive network control and access, which must be relentlessly and continuously developed to prevent criminals from infiltrating their networks in 2017 and beyond.
#5: NFV will take center stage
While 2016 was the year operators started to take notice and plan for their Network Function Virtualization (NFV) futures, in 2017 this will become a reality. Operators see the real value in migrating to an NFV environment, and are highly committed to virtualizing their networks, with U.S. carriers indicating the fastest timeline to do so (according to Xura’s research with Heavy Reading). After all, NFV’s architecture enables low-cost elastic scale, service agility and a reduction in both CAPEX and OPEX, transforming CSPs into cloud operators themselves.
But what obstacles will they need to overcome in order to accelerate NFV adoption in 2017? Operators must face issues like product interworking, orchestration and migration complexity head on, in order to reap the operational and cost benefits. Product interworking ensures that all technologies and products are compatible with each other while orchestration deals with the automated arrangement, coordination, and management of systems and services. Through thorough planning and analysis including taking learnings from others already undergoing NFV migration, they can tackle any potential challenges from the outset. In doing so, they will ultimately reap a whole range of benefits, as well as be better equipped to meet the perpetually evolving needs of their customers.
#6: What’s next in Artificial Intelligence: Chatbots
As more consumers demand personalized, intelligent and simple user experiences with information, entertainment, and communication in one application, chatbot technology will continue to infiltrate as a mass market service in 2017. As such, telecom operators will be tasked with being the middle man between subscribers and bot technology by offering messaging gateways that provide chatbot functionality via SMS or RCS. Operators have several key advantages that only they can provide, such as network reliability, global interoperability, service ubiquity and, perhaps most importantly, subscriber trust – enabled by security and privacy management. Ensuring a secure network will be especially important as chatbots rapidly move into the enterprise applications space in 2017.
2017: the year of the rooster!
While the mobile industry is ever evolving and innovating at a rapid rate, 2017 will be a year of putting last year’s advancements into practice, bigger and better. It will see operators, CSPs, and enterprises, work to make these exciting new services and platforms more robust, stable, secure, and most importantly to them, revenue generating.
About The Author:
Maria Hudson, SVP of Marketing at Xura, is responsible for defining, creating and executing Xura's strategic, global and regional marketing programs, designed to position Xura in the market and communicate key messages to both internal and external audiences, build brand awareness and drive lead generation Maria works closely with the Business Units and Product Managers to continue to improve demand for products by building go to market campaigns and creating content which engage and nurture customers and prospects, in order to maintain and extend Xura's market leadership. Having worked for Xura (formerly Acision) for over 7 years, Maria leads the corporate marketing team globally, and plays an instrumental role in shaping Xura's market strategy and product propositions' positioning, based on market analysis and insight. During her tenure at Xura, Maria was named one of the 30 Top Women in Mobile in 2015.