The year 2020 has been a challenging one for various sectors including telecom and internet service providers. However, it gave an opportunity to test the capability of the telecom infrastructure, that passed the tough test with flying colors. The industry was able to deliver on all that was required of it, be it for students, professionals, or fintech.
Going forward in 2021, we see significant changes in the telecom ecosystem including in the network technology, and the use cases.
Digital transformation will be the focus area for many industries and will impact the common man too. We have already seen the relevance of the digital world in the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Use and acceptance of a digital lifestyle will increase and reach a new level in 2021. Most government schemes, offices, and banking services will accept the use of digital technology and telecom service providers will pave the way for this transformation. Adequate bandwidth, scalable network, cloud storage and energy efficiency network are key for the success of digital transformation. Improved customer experience, data-driven customer profiling for business and resource management are some of the immediate benefits.
5G is a hot topic of discussion, and will continue to be for some time, as deployments increase and adaptations happen. It will move beyond the smartphone into industrial use cases and the enablement of virtualized healthcare delivery and procedures. Manufacturing and network rollouts will catch up with device launches, and there will be a greater diversification of 5G devices at multiple price points.
As accessibility to user equipment grows to address current coverage issues and cost of deploying mid-band spectrum, DSS and introduction of national spectrum policies will drive widespread 5G deployment.
We have seen the prices of 5G mobile handsets and devices decrease and more players coming to the market in 2020. The year 2021 will see the launch of even more cost effective 5G devices and customers will benefit from this. However, telecom operators need to increase awareness of 5G, its benefits and add more use cases in a cost-sensitive market as India.
As of today, we see most 5G deployment in NSA mode. In 2021, we can expect 5G SA deployment to get popular. We can also expect more green sites in 2021 that reduce carbon footprint and contribute to a clean environment.
Open Radio Access Network will be the other trending technology in 2021. We will see O-RAN Alliance gain strength and acceptance globally. The O-RAN vendors’ diversity and interoperability will be useful in the telecom ecosystem. O-RAN support to older technologies such as 2G, 3G and 4G will help get acceptance and be deployed in cost-effective network operations.
5G private networks will be the other hot topic in 2021. Industry 4.0 is the best choice for a private 5G network. A private network finds great application in industry-specific verticals. With the 5G ecosystem offering a unique value proposition, this market will gain traction.
5G network slicing will be equally applicable in private networks and allow partitioning of devices and applications, thus allowing further enhancements to data security and containment, especially with the deployment of on-site edge computing.
Bandwidth can be delivered at scale to suit the needs of the enterprise, without necessarily being dependent on the wider rollout plans of the mobile network operator.
While 5G is yet to mature and is under deployment in many countries, discussions are already happening about 6G. We expect 6G to make progress in terms of standardization and industry collaborations for making it a real case and bring in the next telecom evolution.
IoT and Industrial IoT will be the other trending technology in 2021, worldwide. They will be real game changers in many industries.
Increased deployment of 5G network will make a stronger case for the acceptance of Industry 4.0 and we can expect major industries to accept these technologies for their cost effectiviness and efficient operations.
Artificial Intelligence too will play a key role in many industries, applications and lead toward effective decisions and enhance day-to-day living.