The changing telecoms space: predictions for 2023

The changing telecoms space: predictions for 2023


2022 was an interesting year, for many reasons. Political turbulence, the nation adapting to an almost post-COVID world, and new challenges to contend with from an IT, tech, and network perspective. 2022 had its eyes set on 5G, and, specifically, the much-anticipated arrival of standalone 5G, as well as continuing to bridge the digital divide and meet the UK’s ambitious levelling up goals. While progress has been made, there’s still work to do. 2023 is sure to bring new challenges, as well as many exciting opportunities for the telecoms industry.

So what do our execs think 2023 has in store? We caught up with CRO, Sarah Mills, CTIO, Chris Voudouris and Director of Governance and Assurance, James Milner-Smith, for their thoughts on things to look out for.

We’ll see the rise of green networks

Technology has played a pivotal role in the sustainability conversation, with developments in the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning poised to be a key enabler to a greener future and, in turn, greener networks. But deploying the right technology alone isn’t enough. How technology software itself is developed, and how sustainable and efficient that process is, is equally important. For example, are too many workloads being moved to the cloud, placing unnecessary reliance on data centres? Are deployment methods like DevOps being used to ensure teams are lean, and are changes and/or upgrades made to software energy consumption friendly?

This increased focus on energy-saving will inevitably result in greater emphasis on the planning and development of software to ensure savings can be made from the very beginning of software development. We’ll also start to see more focus on traffic management to reduce energy consumption, whereby telcos leverage automation and AI to better route and manage traffic across multiple network layers, to minimise energy consumption, and maximise efficiency as well as network resources.

The focus on sustainability will shine a spotlight on ESG

With ESG reporting requirements tightening in 2023, we’re set to see more organisations speaking openly about initiatives they’re working on, and even highlighting the areas they’re lagging behind on. In 2023, we’ll begin to see larger organisations hiring talent to specifically focus on improving their ESG footprint and enhance how they report against specific goals. The focus and mindset will shift from what organisations are doing, to how they are giving back.

This will include a bigger effort to engage with local communities through ESG initiatives. One way in which we’ll see this materialise in the telecoms industry is through work with public sector organisations and local authorities, who will provide greater connectivity for local communities. Connectivity solutions will focus on benefitting local people by enhancing and modernising how they deliver everyday services, such as public transport or education and improving digital inclusion.

2023 will see physical security become as important as cybersecurity

Cybersecurity will continue to dominate the headlines in 2023. However, physical security and threats of sabotage will rise in importance, with the topic likely to get as much headline space as cybersecurity in the coming years. Instability in certain regions and the increasing division and tension across the world means we may begin to see incidents such as efforts to ‘disconnect’ an area from the outside world.

If such instances do occur, as Ofcom’s Telecoms Security Requirements (TSR) become more stringent, we’ll see operators across the UK putting backup plans in place, as well as improving the security and resilience of connectivity provisions to avoid any significant damage or other serious consequences during periods of connectivity black-outs.

We may see the introduction of the ‘AirBnB of telecoms’

2023 will be the year that sees the telco industry collaborate more closely than ever with the big cloud platforms. In a symbiotic relationship, cloud platforms including Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure will provide the all-important cloud infrastructure and platforms, leaving telcos in an interesting position – where will they sit in 2023’s value chain?

As network services continue to evolve and as the blurring of the lines increase between telcos, cloud and internet players, operators will need to rethink the value they bring to end-customers. 5G is creating an exciting opportunity for telcos to liberate their own networks and move up their value chain by creating network ecosystems and marketplaces from which services can be easily acquired and bought.

Picture the ‘AirbnB of telecoms’, whereby organisations become virtual network operators by helping them procure network services through API-based wholesale virtualized ecosystems, owned by telcos themselves.

And will cloud players, not telcos, becomes the commodity?

In 2023, collaboration between telcos and cloud providers will continue to increase as more services require cloud computing, power and storage. But while this scenario could have once meant telcos were taking a back seat, we’re now seeing an interesting dynamic play out whereby cloud could become the commodity.

The softwarisation of the network and the need to send workloads to the edge means that telcos could become the critical orchestrators of the new services that sit in the cloud. In this particular scenario, we could see telcos use multiple public cloud providers, switching and changing as they please, and becoming truly cloud agnostic. This then leaves operators free to design, manage and own their networks and services by making use of cloud data centres, cloud resources and cloud infrastructure that belongs to anyone that is willing to provide it. This shift could see greater innovation, but importantly, could be good news for telcos who have long lurked in the shadows of cloud giants.

The telecoms industry is changing quickly, one thing’s for sure: there are plenty of opportunities for operators, public sector and enterprises to become greener, leaner, and more successful than ever before.

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