Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2019

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData recently published its comprehensive set of 2019 predictions across mobile and fixed access, transport and routing, and telco software and services.
  • The predictions here represent some of the most intriguing industry trends that vendors and operators will need to track closely in the coming year.

Shifting RAN Vendor Landscape: It’s too difficult to predict whether more countries will follow the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in erecting barriers to Huawei and ZTE’s participation in their network infrastructure markets. But, in any case, what has already transpired – combined with the cloud of uncertainty it casts over the future – will likely have several near-term effects in 2019.

Private LTE Comes of Age: All the attention paid to 5G services in 2019 will obscure the growth of private LTE ecosystems in 2019. RAN vendors will be hard at work forming and bolstering coalitions with a range of ecosystem players, including robotics and automation IT suppliers, and creating solutions for factories and campuses based on the reliability, maturity, and performance of LTE. 5G can wait.

WiFi Fights Back: Members of the WiFi ecosystem will maintain a public (and direct lobbying) campaign to challenge the 3GPP’s proposal to use 5G in unlicensed spectrum. As they did with license-assisted access, WiFi proponents will argue that unlicensed 5G will interfere with and disrupt WiFi networks. This time around, they may point to LAA’s current lack of momentum to argue that unlicensed 5G won’t be popular either. Meanwhile, the next generation of advanced home gateway solutions, which leverage both mesh and managed WiFi technologies, will begin to be introduced by fixed and converged operators to boost their value proposition in the home.

Automation in Transport Moves Beyond Theoretical: In 2019, vendors will seek to showcase the success of the first commercial deployments for their transport network automation solutions. These success stories should provide a necessary impetus for adoption of evolved NMS-SDN solutions and, in some cases, could accelerate network installed base replacements, if the ROI is compelling. Most vendors’ automation solutions still focus on limited OpEx savings resulting from decreased management workload. In 2019, vendors will focus on automation solutions that open up new revenue opportunities by making provisioning much faster and exposing network resources to clients and partners much easier.

Silicon on Steroids: The latest networking silicon coming available in 2019 delivers advanced telemetry information to support monitoring. Telemetry will continue to drive advancements in automation and O&M activities which are critical to maintaining quality of experience and reducing OpEx. Telemetry will not be limited to the edge and core of the network, but will move to the access layer and even into the radio access network (RAN) to aid in visibility and in O&M operations.

Trickle of Real Telco Blockchain Initiatives Emerge: Blockchain is emerging as a technology with the potential to radically transform the telecommunications industry. AT&T already uses IBM and Microsoft blockchain technology to offer solutions that enable enterprise customers to augment the automation and digitization of their business processes. During 2019, operators will unveil more similar blockchain initiatives, potentially including commercial use-case announcements, as they figure out how to work with their suppliers to build new capabilities, ranging from eliminating roaming fees to streamlining inter-carrier settlement processes.

Open Source Inroads: During 2019, operators will broaden their adoption of open source platforms like Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) to avoid vendor-originated lock-in pitfalls within both physical and virtual environments as well as augment their DevOps and agile software development framework, although new technology generations are still likely to be deployed on a vendor’s specific flavor of an open standard. ETSI-sponsored Open Source MANO (OSM) will still be in play as an ONAP alternative in 2019, although progress in reconciling the two standards through the course of 2019-20 is a solid bet. Additionally, the NFV Network Operator Council Telecom will further drive VNF license management standards in order to: 1) avoid having to customize each licensing transaction; 2) simplify acquisition of VNF license usage information; and 3) substantially simplify license management operations independent of the underlying VNF solution.

Geopolitical Network Faults Forming: After a late 2018 push to ban Huawei led by the U.S. government, 2019 will see telecoms infrastructure start to split along geopolitical lines. Huawei and ZTE will become more aggressive in selling to emerging markets, while the U.S. and its close allies will prefer Cisco, Ericsson, and Nokia. Europe and Japan will be the commercial and political battlegrounds for 5G infrastructure, as governments get involved in early 5G technology decisions. This global fracturing will make standards bodies even more important to insure interoperability, but it is not out of the question that Huawei will start to play hardball with its IP, leading to an increase in trade lawsuits and potentially a slowing of innovation and/or network deployments.

GlobalData customers can find more predictions in our series of recently published advisory reports:

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