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The Future of Telecom: Unpacking Top Trends, the Current Landscape, & the Past

What Is Future Of Telecom
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The telecom sector is no stranger to disruption. After all, it’s been at the forefront of many of the greatest trends and developments in the modern world, from the birth of the Internet to cloud computing and smartphones.

No matter where technology goes, one thing is clear: the telecom industry will continue to provide the connectivity needed to support the innovative new technologies of tomorrow.

So, what trends are driving telecom forward and what does the current landscape look like? More importantly, what lessons can we learn from the past to better understand what the future of telecom will look like?

We’re going to answer all of these questions and more in this post.

What Is The Future Of Telecommunications

There are many trends defining the future of telecom as we know it. We’ve put together a quick list of the top ones you need to know about, including:

  1. No-code and low-code business software: This type of software has become popular in many industries. In telecom, it continues to grow in popularity as it enables rapid deployment of everything from business support systems to phone systems.
  2. Generative AI: There’s no denying AI will continue to proliferate throughout telecom, revolutionizing how companies operate and providing considerable opportunities for growth. While generative AI is still evolving, we aren’t far from a future where it can analyze and provide insights into unimaginable amounts of data. In telecom, this could provide opportunities for service consolidation, improve customer support and troubleshooting, and offload a lot of administrative work.
  3. Blazing-fast connectivity: 5G connectivity will remain crucial to businesses and consumers alike, until it is eventually overtaken by 6G or the next-generation of wireless connectivity. 5G has already improved access to high speed Internet in remote and isolated locations. Add to that the rise of popular satellite internet solutions like StarLink and it’s clear why providing wireless connectivity is such a priority for telecom companies.
  4. Cybersecurity and fraud prevention: Cyber crime is on the rise. This means cybersecurity and fraud prevention will be more important than ever in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks and advanced tactics such as deepfake voices. In telecom, companies will need to implement robust identity and access management systems to protect sensitive customer data, telecom infrastructure, and internal business systems.
  5. Quantum technology: The idea of quantum computing may seem futuristic, and for good reason. However, it’s quickly becoming a reality and will eventually become more widespread, with telcos that adopt the technology early gaining an immense competitive advantage over those that do not.
  6. New approaches to Radio Access Network management: While less attractive than some of the other trends, this one will introduce even greater flexibility and further reduce the reliance on physical assets such as towers, cabling, and antennae.

Beyond trends lies opportunity. Our White Label Softphone offers a tailored approach to navigating this dynamic telecom environment. Curious about the possibilities? Let’s discuss how it fits your unique needs—book a demo today.

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What Does the Current Telecom Landscape Look Like?

Currently, the telecommunications industry is defined by several key trends.

Renting Cell Towers

One trend that appears to be growing increasingly common in the telecom space is a shift from fully-owned cellular towers to rentals and revenue sharing.

To offset the cost of telecommunications infrastructure, providers are increasingly seeking to either rent their infrastructure out to other companies or else simply do away with ownership entirely.

Consequently, we’ve seen the emergence of a new kind of service provider — one that purchases infrastructure to then lease to telcos. 

Connecting Everywhere and Anywhere with Satellites

Just one year remains before the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) officially reaches end-of-life in the United States.

Technologies that rely on the old copper wires of the PSN will need to transition to digital alternatives such as VoIP, 5G, or low-power Wide Area Networks (LP-WAN). In the short term, this switch-off has proved challenging.

In the long term, however, transitioning to cellular and wireless connectivity will be incredibly advantageous for telecom providers.

Not only will they be less reliant on physical infrastructure, digital technology allows them to both improve service delivery and enrich service offerings while also reducing overhead. This is in addition to enabling the utilization of other emerging technology such as AI.

Making the Shift to Satellite-Based Communications

The increasing reliability and bandwidth of satellite communications coupled with the promise of an eventual transition from 5G to 6G promises to even further reduce our need for physical network connectivity.

In the near future, this could potentially even lead to truly global internet coverage. Provided, of course, we can get past the regulatory hurdles:

  • Spectrum allocation and utilization.
  • Compliance with the technical standards, reporting obligations, and operational processes laid out by regulators.
  • Licensing and authorization requirements from multiple regulators, standards bodies, and governments.
  • Orbital slot regulations for companies that wish to operate their own satellite network.
  • Encryption requirements and legal roadblocks related to foreign ownership and control of satellite systems.

To put it bluntly, the regulations around satellite network connectivity are extremely complex. They also vary from country to country, which presents a significant roadblock to telecom providers. Moreover, these regulations are constantly changing — so even keeping pace can be difficult.

Building Out Networks at the Edge

Rather than centralizing data processing and computing workloads in massive, costly data centers, we are increasingly seeing businesses across multiple industries shifting to a more decentralized model.

Computing is increasingly being handled at the network’s edge, simultaneously increasing bandwidth and reducing latency. In addition to unlocking a number of new use cases and reducing network traffic, edge computing gives organizations greater control over their data.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, analyst McKinsey found in a recent survey of telecom executives that the majority of them are actively engaging with edge computing on some level.

Intelligent Telecom

We’ve already touched on the enormous impact artificial intelligence has had; on the technology’s potential. But what does that look like for the telecommunications sector, exactly? The short answer is that it changes everything.

Using AI, telecommunications companies can deploy intelligent, self-healing networks capable of mitigating everything from outages to cyberattacks without human intervention.

These networks can leverage advanced algorithms to ensure optimal traffic flows and even proactively prepare for surges in demand. Chatbots built on large language models, meanwhile, can greatly enhance the customer service experience while reducing helpdesk workloads.

How Telecom Companies are Adapting

Understanding Future Of Telecom

Here’s the truth: the telecommunications sector is in a state of flux, evolving in ways that few could have predicted several years ago. How are telecom providers adapting to this new paradigm?

More importantly, how has this impacted the competitive landscape? 

For one, potential deregulation, global connectivity, and reduced reliance on expensive physical infrastructure has opened the door to startups which, just a few years ago, would have been unable to compete with the major players in the space.

Case in point: There are over 2800 telecommunications startups globally. Some of the most compelling include:

  • Nu Glass, which wants to make glass more permeable to mobile frequencies to eliminate the need for repeaters and routers.
  • AGA Wireless, which aims to provide a decentralized cellular network through high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) airships.
  • Virtual satellites, which, through quantum mechanics and photonics, enables satellite communication without using satellites. 

For their part, telecom leaders are embracing digital transformation, using technologies like robotic process automation, AI, and IoT to enhance everything from equipment maintenance to customer analytics.

In the process, they’re greatly improving both accessibility and service quality for consumers.

Telecom’s History Unpacked: Evolving from Early Success to Maturity

For much of its early existence, telecommunications was a relatively niche industry. Not only was telecom technology cost-prohibitive, its use cases were still limited. That changed dramatically in the 1980s, which saw the introduction not only of mobile telephony, but also the first standards for email.

1980-1990: Familiar Roadblocks

What followed was a period of rapid technological evolution which ultimately culminated in a convergence between communications and computing.

During this time, mobile network operators thrived, providing millions of users with access to increasingly globalized infrastructure. At the same time, this early boom was not without its regulatory growing pains.

Policymakers and regulators expressed several concerns, many of which are still relevant to this day:

  • Potential issues that may result from financial monopolies
  • Questions of network ownership
  • How trans-border data flow might be regulated
  • Security
  • Service delivery
  • A growing skill shortage

These stumbling points did little to stem the growth of the telecom industry, and by the early nineties, the first commercial cellular radio systems were fully established.

That was not the only thing that would change in the coming decade. The ensuing years saw another explosion of technological development, this time focused on data.

1990-2000: A Global Village in the Age of Data

Although the telecom landscape changed relatively little throughout the 1990s, the infrastructure supporting it evolved considerably.

Telecommunication network technology had already been undergoing a slow transition with the expansion of switching and transmission facilities. The development of more advanced computing technology helped to accelerate this growth.

Network-wide intelligence sharing was a particularly noteworthy development, considerably amplifying network performance and simplifying network management.

New technologies such as synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), meanwhile, greatly expanded the scope of services that telecom companies could offer. This coincided with global convergence of computing, telecom, broadcasting, and entertainment companies as well as the establishment of global networking standards.

By this point, Microsoft’s Bill Gates could already see the writing on the wall.

“People will not have to think about moving their information around,” Gates explained at a Telecom 99 keynote, adding, “Any files or favorites or messages that they are interested in should just immediately show up wherever they are, whether it is the television that will be connected to the Internet, their mobile phone, their computer in their car, or their PC in all its various forms. In order to make this happen, we are completely dependent on forming strong partnerships with telecommunication.

Future Of Telecom Insights

2000-2019: New Millennium; New World

By 2003, worldwide mobile phone subscriptions had reached one billion worldwide, reaching 4.6 billion by the end of 2009.

Internet use similarly exploded, reaching 1.8 billion in the same timeframe, with half of that number having broadband access. This timeframe also saw the first introduction of satellite services as a means of complementing optical fiber and broadband networks as well as the introduction of new wireless standards.

By 2010, telecommunications had essentially permeated every facet of modern life. Smartphones, cloud software, and the development of new, faster, and more efficient mobile like LTE, 4G, and 5G also contributed heavily to industry growth.

2020-2023: COVID-19 and GPT-3

Much has already been written about how the coronavirus pandemic changed the world. About how we saw over a decade of technological development in just a few months.

About how, in a future defined by hybrid and distributed work, telecommunications networks are more important than ever.

Artificial intelligence introduced even further disruption, with generative AI enabling better network optimization, customer service, and more.

Where Does Acrobits Fit In?

At Acrobits, we’ve always been innovators, from the moment we developed the first mobile VoIP application on the App Store and Google Play in 2009. To date, we’ve helped more than 600 communication service providers generate hundreds of millions in revenue for their clients through our solutions.

More importantly, as a proven leader in the industry, we make a point of staying abreast of emerging technology and trends — and ensuring that our clients have everything they need to embrace those trends.

Book a demo today, and we’ll show you what we mean.

Build a white label softphone app

Create a custom white-label softphone with Cloud Softphone.

  • No devs needed
  • Native desktop apps
  • 100+ premium features
Book a free demo
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Senior Copywriter
Eric Carriere
Senior Copywriter
Eric is an experienced B2B SaaS copywriter with over a decade of experience working with tech companies in telecom, AI, cybersecurity, and other leading-edge industries. Eric takes a data-driven approach when creating content for Acrobits — blending his extensive telecom experience with his desire to create trustworthy content that's accurate, sharable, and designed for today's busy professionals.
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