News: Predictions from TalkTalk Business, Gigaclear, ViaSat and others on what next year holds for telecoms.
Telecoms is set to undergo several seismic shifts next year. There are industry moves, such as BT’s acquisition of EE, Hutchinson Whampoa’s acquisition of O2, possible changes to the ownership of Openreach. There are technological changes coming; a growth in software-defined networks, the standardisation of wireless being two examples.
CBR spoke to ten exclusive industry sources to get their views on where the market is going.
1. Customers will demand more visibility over their network services
Duncan Gooding, Director of Major Account, TalkTalk Business, said:
"Delivering this shift to a digital economy is the Next Generation Network, which for businesses has moved from being a peripheral consideration to a fundamental IT service. As more objects are connected, with trends like the Internet of Things and Bring Your Own Device, the need for a fast, flexible and reliable network is only compounded.
"Increasingly, companies are looking to move away from legacy systems to a more software defined network, with access to real-time information to inform these strategic decisions. Most importantly, by operating as a more agile business, they are demanding greater flexibility not only from their partners but from the services they require to deliver this change.
"In 2016, we expect businesses to look for greater visibility over what they’re paying for and greater control over how they use and manage services, such as a network, which is so essential in enabling their own digital transformation and ultimately, their next chapter."
2. BT will hold onto Openreach
Matthew Hare, CEO at Gigaclear, said:
"BT will complete the purchase of EE, moving its focus to ‘Mobile and Media’. This will involve launching a range of new bundled fixed-mobile-media services and levering a new "HomeHub" which incorporates a personal 4G base station.
"I don’t believe Openreach will be split from the BT Group. BT will agree to substantially increase its capital and operating expenditure on Openreach, to improve the network quality and capacity.
"Virgin Media will start to make an impact with ‘Project Lightning’ mostly focused on in-filling around the edge of its existing network footprints, building to over 250,000 new properties in the process during the year."
3. Satellite broadband hits the mainstream
Neil Fraser, Satellite Lead, ViaSat, said:
"From 2016 satellite broadband will be considered together with fibre and 4G by IT decision makers future-proofing their organisations. We are likely to see the IT market’s understanding of satellite maturing, seeing it as another way to overcome connectivity challenges and help keep up with constantly increasing demands for capacity.
"This will only become more pronounced as business and consumer demands outstrip the current level of broadband capacity in the years ahead. For instance, we will see satellite technology increasingly used to serve workforces in remote locations and, in tandem with other technologies like fibre and 4G, to provide greater resilience for critical communications.
"Satellite is becoming more cost effective year on year and will have an important role from 2016; bridging gaps in connectivity and getting broadband to more business users worldwide."
4. Steps towards 5G
Joe Marsella, CTO EMEA at Ciena said:
"While we are not ready for a launch of mainstream 5G services just yet, the industry is preparing. Impressive plans for 5G suggest it will require 1,000 times more bandwidth, 100 per cent coverage and 99.99 per cent availability, all essential given that 21 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices are expected to active by 2020.
"In anticipation backhaul and core networks need to be strengthened and made more efficient – to carry both the throughput as well as the number of concurrent devices. In particular, software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) provide opportunities to utilise unused capacity more effectively as well as a means to consolidate services over a single underlying network infrastructure.
"With SDN and NFV, network operators will accelerate and automate service delivery across both virtual and physical domains. 2016 will lay the groundwork for 5G’s inception, seeing service providers investing in cellular data network backhaul and core network infrastructure, as well as embrace SDN and NFV for faster service enablement. "
5. Wireless gets standardised
Tris Simmons, Senior Product Marketing Manager EMEA, NETGEAR, said:
"As the number of devices using the wireless network continues to explode, we can expect to see a much more rapid increase in businesses adopting 802.11ac wireless standards.
"This will accelerate in 2016, where we can expect to see a downward trend in the older 802.11n standard devices, as organisations using 802.11g, make the decision to move directly on to 802.11ac.
"We also expect to see the arrival of multi-gigabit switching, which will become more important as Wave 2 ac access points arrive to support Wave 2 clients where speeds greater than a Gigabit on the switch network warrant higher speed switching."