From smart cities, to SD-WAN, IoT and eSports, the industry is ready for operators to take plunge into these technologies and access their full value. In fact, one of the next big opportunities will be smart building management in smart cities. Operators can get a slice of the $19.25 billion pie in 2019 by starting to offer smart building management platforms which track data. But they need service assurance platforms that can scale to ingest billions of data records per day and be able to offer valuable services to enterprises.
VNF integration remains costly and there is a wide suspicion around open source, and the lack of business cases surrounding this integration will make 2019 another year of “hurry up and wait” for operator NFV. Most will focus on SD-WAN as a stepping stone in the near term, until a successful critical mass of deployments has been reached.
IoT will of course keep growing, and with it the need to ensure availability for critical service. This will throw up interesting questions around who is ultimately liable for both assuring services, and the associated costs.
Another shift we are noticing is in eSports and operators would also be wise to keep their eyes on its development in 2019, as it is already contributing to the aggressive growth in video, offering both lucrative opportunities, as well as QoE headaches, in equal measures. However, there is a capacity crunch and operators need to have the ability to analyse subscriber behaviour in real time and to share the network based on where usage occurs.
#1: Smart network control centres will extend further to building management
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Smart building management will require the interconnection and integration of data from across each and every connected device, sensor, service and application. In 2019 communications service providers can play a role here by leveraging, correlating and analyzing the massive amounts of data that is traversing their digital networks to access a slice of the building management systems (BMS) market, which is expected to be valued at $19.25BN USD by 2023.
However, carriers are not set up to serve this market, and will need to grow and scale to do so properly. This will require carrier-grade service assurance platforms that can scale to ingest billions of data records per day and use open APIs to collect data from almost any source. Then they can offer smart building platforms that bring together performance management, automation and orchestration functionalities with advanced visualization to add value to enterprise customers.
Command and Control Centers with advanced visualization, reporting capabilities and dashboards will help simplify the amount of data being presented, ensuring that building managers have access to the right information at the right time, resulting in faster, more reliable decision making.
#2: NFV and virtualisation: will open source stoke further collaboration?
Despite rising awareness of the benefits of NFV, many telcos are still struggling to find the business case. This has not been helped by reports that the integration of VNFs can be very costly. 2019 will be a little “hurry up and wait” while telcos wait for others to try NFV out first, and learn from their mistakes.
This is especially true when it comes to the integration of solutions using open source. Facebook changed the fixed-line data centre market with its Open Compute Project, and many telcos are tipping open source to have a similarly revolutionary effect in their industry. But in the meantime, the business case for offering SD-WAN to enterprise customers is clearer, and it will provide a stepping stone for many telcos who are not quite ready to take the leap to offer fully virtualised networks.
#3: Growing use of devices in Manufacturing and eHealth throw up liability issues
As the number of connected sensors and devices grows in different areas from manufacturing to telemedicine, ensuring the availability of the communication link between the sensor and the provider of services will become paramount. Regardless of the type of communication, whether based on cellular, Wi-Fi, xDSL or fiber (or a combination of them), if it is not working, then no information is moving, and no service can be provided. Specific communication SLAs about the availability, latency and quality of these services must be upheld.
In 2019 this will throw up interesting issues around liability: For critical applications - where does the liability lie with M2M latency? For manufacturing plants, remote healthcare, who tackles the costs of SLA assurance?
A mobile connection was never meant to be used to power services like connected cars, which means that so far the only solid business case for 5G is fixed wireless access. Carriers will need to consider all of this and more when selling enterprise IoT services. They’re not set up to serve this market, and will need to grow and scale to do so properly.
#4: VIDEO: eSports will bring both strain and gain
One of the fastest growing spectator sports in the world is eSports, but unless you’re under 25 it’s unlikely you’ve even heard of this. Put simply, it’s people watching other people play video games. Revenue is projected to grow 32% to $905m this year with predictions that this growth will only continue. And operators’ heads are turning: AT&T has just launched Razer, the “world’s best gaming phone”, to cater for this growing market.
In 2019 video will present both a challenge and opportunity for operators. The growth of video will represent a massive capacity challenge, as eSports and virtual reality will require double the amount of network capacity available today in no time. There is gold in those hills too: entertainment and streaming are two major revenue opportunities for operators. The global media and entertainment sector was projected to produce nearly $2 trillion in 2017 revenue. Meanwhile over the next decade the wireless revenue opportunity driven by 5G will represent a $3 trillion bucket available for operators. That’s not even taking advertising into account.
But operators can’t - and won’t - double their networks to solve these capacity challenges. That means getting the most out of the infrastructure in the interim will be key. Analytics will therefore become critical to analyse subscriber behaviour in real time. Machine learning can be used to predict how each service is provisioned in real time. Behavioural insights can shape the network for video platform content, based on where the usage will occur. The value of analytics will move from the network core into the marketing department too, as teams leverage new tools to gain insights into their subscribers’ behaviours.