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What is in store for telecom companies in 2019

The last couple of years have seen a monumental shift in the way the telecom industry is structured and operates. Customer preferences have undergone a change as we saw conversations move from voice-based hello to emoji, gaming change from candy crush to PUBG and payments from cash to e-wallets. Telecom players continue to evolve themselves in this new digital era and come up with new customer offerings to stay relevant and increase revenue. So what are the key trends that we can expect to see in the near future?

Mobile as the primary screen shall continue to fuel network expansion. With an increasing smartphone penetration, OTT video shall carry on with its rapid growth. Most of the telecom operators now have an OTT video app as a bundled offering which alongside OTT content providers shall keep the customers hooked on to their mobile screens.

Intelligent self-service options as the customer becomes more technology savvy. Artificial Intelligence (AI) based chatbot and voice assistant solutions have seen a rising adoption and their growth is now expected to accelerate as these solutions become smarter and more efficient.

Connected everything as the reliance on mobile and internet increases. From connected cars to connected homes to mobile offices, consumer preferences enabled by technology are changing. Telecom companies are focusing more and more on offering these solutions as it offers a new revenue stream which is only expected to grow in the future. Most of the major telecom operators have technology-enabled home and enterprise broadband solutions which are focusing on these service offerings.

Diminishing boundaries and a converged marketplace for the customer as telecom companies’ partner and offer options from grocery to shopping to travel and movies all bundled in their apps with the objective of offering an immersive experience to the customer. Aided by e-wallets, these offerings help become a means of customer retention.

Faster and efficient 5G networks testing and pilots shall start becoming more visible as the technology matures aided by an aggressive push by the government and regulator to implement high-speed digital networks. Commercial deployments might also start in small pockets towards the latter part of the year.

While there shall be a lot of excitement around these new technologies, there are also risks and challenges which will have to be dealt with. The first and foremost question and the biggest risk is the strategy and the technology chosen and adopted. The question to be answered is whether these are relevant in the context of the organization and the industry. Enterprises need to continuously need to re-evaluate the business case and evolve their service offerings to stay relevant.

With bundled OTT video offerings, it is very important for telecom service providers to work very closely with their partner to ensure the security of the content being offered. Any breach can impact the services and brand of both the service provider and the partner. When talking to an AI-based assistant, trust still remains a major concern for customers especially when it comes to personal and sensitive personal information. In an interconnected world, the threat landscape and the attack surface has increased. Even the smallest of vulnerabilities in the system can compromise the data and enable the attacker to take control of the connected system.

As technology diminishes boundaries and business models converge, data privacy and security becomes even more important as multiple stakeholders get involved. The role of regulators becomes critical to ensure that the interests of the consumer are protected. It is important to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Virtualization and greater reliance on software shall form the core of 5G networks. These networks shall be exposed to a larger attack surface. With this being a new technology, some of the risks might still not be discovered.

Technology shall play a very important role in shaping the telecom industry and consumer preferences in the near future. There is a lot of excitement as new business models unfold providing newer business opportunities.

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