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Key takeaways for telecom sector from COVID-19

COVID-19 will be remembered as a cornerstone in history that has drastically changed multiple paradigms across consumers, enterprises, industries, societies, and governments. Across the landscape, from individuals to industries to governments, the pandemic has created a paradigm shift that will reshape their strategies and thought processes for the foreseeable future.

The telecom sector hasn’t been immune to the impact of COVID-19. While there has been a negative impact in certain segments, overall, there are plenty of reasons for optimism emerging from the pandemic. From the shift in mindset to technology trends that will alter the landscape of the industry, there are plenty of insights that can be positively leveraged going forward.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the key aspects that have made a positive impact on the telecom sector:

Change in consumer behavior. When it comes to technology or any other emerging sector, one of the biggest challenges is bringing about a change in consumer behavior. Many recent changes in consumer behavior will accelerate the growth of these digital services. While these technologies aren’t new, the pandemic has accelerated its adoption and usage.

Exposed the criticality of networks. When access to physical infrastructures like offices, hospitals, schools, factories, travel, and logistics, came to standstill during the lockdown period, every individual and business had to rely on the current digital infrastructure in order to continue functioning. This exposed the importance of networks and resulted in a sudden surge in up-gradation of networks and bandwidth by consumers.

Accelerated cloud adoption. While there has been always a shift towards cloud, the pandemic made it a priority and accelerated it multifold. Enterprises that didn’t have a fully integrated digital infrastructure suffered a major setback during the pandemic. This has prompted many who were on the fence about moving their infrastructure to the cloud to act fast. Around 22 percent of enterprises in India are using a multi-cloud environment and the number is expected to reach about 50 percent in the next two years. The increased adoption of the cloud and its growth will have a direct positive impact on the growth of associated networks.

Growth of remote services. All remote infrastructure and services were the beneficiaries of a big boom during the pandemic. The restriction of physical movement during the lockdowns meant that all applications and services that could be managed remotely gained popularity and saw an uptick in adoption.

Growth in video. There was a sudden surge in video-based communication, which is one of the key use cases for the adoption of 4G and establishes the need for 5G, which is expected to bring about a large number of benefits due to its high speed, ultra-low latency, and high network density. Our recent analysis finds that by 2025, the number of video conferencing devices, including room-based endpoints, USB room devices, and personal video communication devices, will be six times as high.

Increased digitization. The use case for the digitization of assets, infrastructure, and processes became more prevalent which in turn has accelerated the digital transformation in every sector. As all digitization projects depend on the core network infrastructure it has a direct bearing on the growth of telecommunication services.

Work from home. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled the demand for workforce engagement management and analytics applications. The entire concept of work from home relies on a dependable stable network. As people spend more time at home, there is an increased need for a digital home.

While these are some of the external market factors that helped the telecommunications sector, there are many lessons learned from the pandemic, which forced the sector to take a look internally and alter strategies. It forced all telcos to reconsider its business model, network coverage, technologies used, supply chain practices followed, backend support processes, reevaluate cost structure, reassess CapEx plans, risks, and redesign customer engagement models.

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