Watch out for these top Telecom trends in 2021

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The telecommunications industry has been at the center of the global pivot to remote operations. Without robust and resilient connectivity, a major chunk of the world’s industries would have decimated and the remote working scenario would have been too far-fetched. As a result, the pandemic would have had much serious economic implications than it has now. 

Although the increasing shift toward digital capabilities had necessitated the availability of seamless connectivity, the progress in the area of 5G and related technologies was underwhelming. However, the sudden need for practically shifting the entire working and learning population to remote conditions has resulted in an astounding amount of development in the telecom sector. Major telco companies are now actively investing in expanding their 5G capabilities. With the ‘remote’ culture now expected to remain prominent in the next normal, a few of the telco services providers are also exploring the arena of 6G connectivity. 

In the pre-pandemic world, the global industries were probably walking to reach their digital destination. But the COVID-19 outbreak has compelled them to sprint, jump, and somersault to achieve digital excellence as soon as they can. And certainly, telecom sector has kept up the pace too for delivering the network connectivity demands of the world.  

At this point, it is not possible to predict the timeline for the return of normalcy. But, looking at the way the world has adapted to the remote scenario, it is safe to say that the telecommunications sector has to work harder toward building smarter, safer, and stronger solutions. Let us explore some of the technologies that are expected to dominate the telecom industry in the coming year and possibly in the post-pandemic era. 

1. 5G  

In 2021, T-mobile will extend its fast 5G services across the nation. The company has promised that their network will blanket an area covering almost 200 million people by the end of next year.

Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president for technology, recently spoke to Fortune – “We’re off to the races and came out of the blocks super quick. We’re now adding on top of that (more of the spectrum) we secured in the combination with Sprint. That’s moving really, really fast. Thousands of sites on air today, thousands in construction, and thousands more ready to go into construction.”

The majority of Android phones and the latest iPhones are now compatible with 5G, which is expected to become the de facto standard by the end of 2021 for all the smartphones. The promises of faster speed and reduced latency have been influential in the hype around the 5G network. And since the remote operations have uncovered several defaults in the existing networks, people are highly anticipating the arrival of 5G to their area.

2. Remote connectivity 

In 2020, everything went remote – from healthcare to education. With the support from the telco providers, virtual clinics were setup to cater to the non-COVID-19 patients. Telemedicine saw a huge boost in terms of adoption and deployment for ensuring the compliance to the social distancing protocols and saving up the hospital capacity. 

Keeping the safety of children and educators in mind, schools shifted online. Colleges and schools shut down and videoconferencing became the new normal for education. 

The entire workforce across the world limited itself to their homes and offered their services via digital platforms. 

The speed and scale at which this shift from physical to remote happened reflected the power of telecommunications. At the same time, it gave rise to new demands for more digitally advanced platforms that would support a number of functions – file sharing, remote collaboration, videoconferencing, online events, and many more. 

A significant number of organizations have extended remote working till the end of next year, while some made ‘Work From Home’ permanent for their employees. Therefore, the need for seamless remote connectivity is not going away anytime soon and will be staying around long after we control the contagion. 

Digital platforms like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Slack have seen a sharp increase in the number of users. As a result, they are also compelled to continuously ensure proper functioning with special emphasis on security and seamlessness. 

3. Edge computing 

A recent report revealed that edge computing will drive approximately $7 billion in revenue by 2025. While as much as two-third of this revenue will accrue to the cloud players, telcos, neutral hosts, and enterprises will play important roles in hosting sites and providing connectivity. 

In their Predictions 2021 report, Forrester said – “Until now, edge computing was promising but still developing. In 2021, new business models will emerge that facilitate the deployment of edge in production. 

This growth can be attributed to the shifting networking demands for organizations across the world, along with the developments in AI and 5G arenas.  

Looking beyond the current picture 

McKinsey analysts Phillip Nattermann and Karolina Sauer-Sidor ask the telco companies to consider taking a look beyond the obvious and explore new possibilities –  

How do we create new applications that allow safer home working but also allow tracking and tracing of infections to limit the spread of the virus? How do we allow for more effective remote learning? How do we enable students in very remote areas to have the same level of access to high-end education as people in metropolitan areas? These types of things are potential expansion opportunities for telcos. 

Fully online entertainment. Fully online education. But also things that we’ve never imagined before: virtual visits to museums, virtual tastings—basically, a virtual way of living that has not been possible before. Above all, telecom operators need to think about the future: the future role that they want to play in society, within their communities, and also within their ecosystems. 

Whether providing a seamless broadband connectivity across multiple digital devices, or access to wireless networks, enterprises catering to industries spanning the Communications diaspora need to scale up to meet the continuous demands of their customers. To achieve this goal, continuous software testing, automated scripts, & automated validation of end-to-end business flow are critical. 

Cigniti’s domain competency group (DCG) comprises 100+ SMEs experienced in Open Stack, SDN, NFV, Telecom Protocol Testing, Functional & Non-Functional Testing, Test Automation, & End-to-End Testing for Operations Support System (OSS) & Business Support System (BSS). The DCG also lets you access proven testing processes, standardized templates, & best practices aligned to telecom regulations, along with a comprehensive set of Integrated Test Cases across the major COTS apps used in the telecom industry. 

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