Telecoms is too important to leave up to traditional fixed and mobile operators. Thanks to the “democratisation” of shared spectrum, virtualised networks, fibre and cloud – plus the demands of industry, government and local communities – a plethora of new service providers are emerging to fill the gaps. This report is intended as a “spotter’s guide” to the categories of network owners and operators.
VoLTE solves the complex problem of providing voice services over a 4G mobile data network. Although it may allow 2G and 3G networks to be turned off, and their spectrum re-farmed to other networks, declining call revenues (and in some cases declining volumes) are dampening appetite to invest in VoLTE. However, with voice beyond telephony on the rise, for example through AI-powered voice assistants and video calling, can telcos use VoLTE as an opportunity to develop new IP-based voice and messaging communications offerings?
Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) have catapulted to prominence in the enterprise networking world in the last 12 months, driven by the growth of demand for access to cloud applications, and businesses’ desire to control WAN costs and complexity. SD-WAN may be a new “intermediary” layer in the network which has the potential to disrupt telcos’ enterprise aspirations, particularly given that it is dominated by vendors and specialist providers rather than telcos. SD-WAN may reduce operators’ MPLS and WAN services revenues and could potentially restrict future NFV/SDN opportunities. But SD-WAN also offers opportunities, where it is embraced – tactically – as part of operators’ enterprise portfolios.