2016: What Was Most Important in the Service Provider Network (or, at Least, Most Read About)

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • By looking to our top-read analyses of 2016, we can paint a picture of what was top-of-mind for telecom network players – operators and vendors – over the past 12 months.
  • Key themes included SDN and NFV, IoT, and the rivalry between Nokia and Ericsson. This also implies other important themes were getting less attention than they probably should.

While it’s common for the start of a new year to be accompanied by predictions for telecom and technology markets, it’s just as important to look back at the year that just passed. Why? While predictions are speculative, highlights from the past 12 months point to very real trends and themes. What’s more, most good predictions recognize that the themes and trends of 2017 will be built from (evolutions of) the themes and trends of 2016.

As much as we might debate the most important themes of 2016, what we do know are which Current Analysis reports in the service provider infrastructure space received the highest readership. If you want a refresher on these analyses, you can just click the links below. Of course, we can also use them as a proxy for what people cared about, and draw conclusions about the larger trends that resonated.

2016: Top Read Reports

What They Tell Us

The telecom network topics and technologies which captured the greatest attention in 2016 won’t be a surprise to anyone: IoT, NFV and SDN (including MANO, NFV infrastructure and SDN controller offers), and the evolution to 5G. It’s not even surprising to see a major interest in the virtualization of the EPC, since it plays into both 5G and NFV technologies. Against this backdrop of technology innovation and evolution, however, there is another dynamic at play: vendor competition at the top of the market. With the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent by Nokia, we were left with three dominant vendors in the service provider infrastructure market. And, as Huawei continues to report success after success in the space, the fiercest competition is being felt between the others (Ericsson, Nokia and, to a lesser extent, Cisco), which are struggling to grow their service provider businesses while pursuing similar strategies involving web-scale, large enterprise and vertical industry targets.

At the other end of the spectrum are reports which did not get read much. It’s just as important to take a look at these; where top-read reports highlight the themes and trends that people cared most about, less-read reports can highlight topics that deserve more attention – topics that might be (perilously) getting ignored.

2016: Least Read Reports

What They Tell Us

Topics like 5G, SDN and NFV may be top-of-mind for telecom service providers and the vendors supplying them. However, the way that smaller vendors are addressing these topics is getting much less attention. The same contradiction applies to video. Video content is already dominating fixed and mobile networks and its impact, going forward, is only expected to grow. Yet, building a full understanding of the competitive dynamics around video infrastructure (including developments from heavyweights like Ericsson) is clearly not a priority. It goes without saying that this is a mistake; ignoring competitive dynamics around rapidly evolving and important technologies – whether driven by small or large vendors – is an invitation to being caught off guard and beaten.

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