A growing number of players, from Mobile Network Operators to Mobile Virtualized Network Operators, are vying for their share of today’s competitive telecoms market. With brand loyalty a thing of the past, only those telecom operators, who can identify new ways to add value to their subscribers, while positively impacting their bottom line, will carve out a niche for themselves in 2019.
Outlined below are the key indicators of success for telecom operators this year.
#1: Migration to 5G
While it’s true that 5G migration commenced in 2019, the hard reality is that the real shift to 5G, which is set to be a service-based network on a fully virtualized infrastructure, requires significant commitment of time, knowledge and resources. It requires a massive shift in both mindset and technology - on the vendor and operator side - to enable seamless integration of a diverse collection of virtual software.
However, with the imminent onset of 5G, one area that will have the biggest impact is IoT - more specifically - IoT security. Since 5G will support millions of IoT devices, operators are becoming concerned that the IoT devices are going to attack the network from the outside. This presents network operators the opportunity to offer network-based security services.
To truly capitalize on 5G, mobile operators may also choose to offer fixed wireless as an alternative to fixed operators and/or extend coverage to geographies not previously served or where the fixed infrastructure needs upgrades. Operators can also leverage fixed wireless networks to circumvent regulations.
#2: Leveraging the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
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AI and ML have already become an integral part of our lives. From Alexa and Google Assist to AI and ML-based online travel services and navigation systems, we are using these technologies without giving them a second thought. However, for network operators, AI and ML are critical to identifying and protecting the network, critical network assets and infrastructure as well as in generating the best Quality of Experience (QoE) for network subscribers.
With hackers getting more sophisticated in their attack methods, it is safe to say most future attacks will be zero-day attacks. This means real-time anomaly detection is vital, and only AI and ML are equipped to generate this level of defense.
Similarly, AI and ML are imperative to detecting QoE impacting issues. Today, simply identifying the problems is not enough. Everyone’s expecting real-time detection of issues along with a real-time resolution. Fortunately, Closed Loop Automation, powered by ML enables anomaly detection to find the root cause. The combination of automatic decision making and policy enforcement in real-time are deployed to correct the problem.
#3: Turning IoT into a Profit Center
With connectivity on the rise, IoT devices are the new normal. However, IoT connectivity revenues are still very low. Not to mention, the costs are steadily on the rise. As a result, service providers, are looking for newer ways to drive and increase revenues. One way to do this is by providing value-added IoT services, such IoT security.
IoT devices cannot be secured by securing an end point. As a result, more and more enterprises will be outsourcing the security of the IoT services to the infrastructure providers in 2019. Service providers will be expected to provide end-to-end secure communication between the IoT devices/gateways to the IoT application platform.
As IoT based services become a significant revenue source for the enterprises, it will be integrated more tightly with the core infrastructure of an organization both from operational and commercial eco-systems.
Being their subscribers’ Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) providers, operators also have the unique opportunity to create a security-as-a-service offering for consumer IoT at the network level by simply deploying security agents directly on their CPE.
By utilizing a combination of AI, ML, behavioral analysis and automation of decision making, operators are uniquely positioned to offer network-based security without the consumer having to do anything on their end.
#4: Squeezing Value out of 4G
There is still time for 5G technologies to fully enter the market and for 5G networks to be truly realized. In the meantime, network operators must still use 4G technologies. Given that 4G networks are saturated, this is problematic.
What will make operators stand out during this “waiting” period is how cost efficiently they choose to capitalize on 4G. Only network operators, who can identify ways to expand bandwidth and maintain high levels of QoE without making massive investment, will be making the most of 4G in the true sense.