This year holds a lot of promise for innovation and opportunity in telecommunications, thanks to fledgling services harnessing 5th Generation networks. Despite some challenges with 5G rollouts, we’re seeing the inevitable march of progress. 5G is now accessible or will be soon, for large populations of the world.
As 5G matures, we’ll begin to see exciting new possibilities. Here are my predictions for the year ahead.
Perhaps unthinkable in my own childhood but by the end of this year, more US homes will be accessing TV via streaming services than by traditional pay TV. This has major implications for service providers’ business models and architectures. Video traffic is growing at an unprecedented pace, and increasingly broadband is the sole delivery channel. The disruptive implications of these changes include more aggressive rollouts of fixed wireless access, accelerated deployment of edge caching mechanisms, and entirely new monetization schemes to replace outdated subscription and advertising revenue models.
In 2021 the tipping point was reached when the number of connected devices for the Internet of Things (IoT) exceeded the number of connected devices for humans. The trend continues to accelerate in 2022, as there will be more than 30 billion globally connected IoT devices in contrast with just under 8 billion people, not all of whom are connected! With the speed, low latency, and massive scalability available with 5G networks, IoT services will deliver the cost and efficiency needed to reimagine entire industries. I’m keeping a close eye on trends in healthcare, transportation, manufacturing and security, to name a few.
New access networks are emerging to reach ever more devices – and people – and serve an insatiable demand for new services. Verizon just announced a deal with Amazon’s project Kaipur to integrate their Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites for connectivity. This is only the beginning. New satellite and private network entrants will both complement existing networks and become competitors for broadband services. In rural areas, where broadband penetration has historically been low, we’ll see significant growth for new customers. Paired with existing technologies, we will see LEO integrated more regularly into smart spaces and campus networks, as an alternative to traditional public services.
We will see innovative new business models for emerging ecosystems of device, content, and business partners, with entirely new types of service providers emerging. That’s because this year will bring a surge of new interest for campus-based and private networks, where security, data privacy, latency, and edge caching for optimization and analytics will drive initiatives that would have been cost prohibitive or unmanageable. New standards and regulatory changes are helping campus solutions push into the mainstream.
New wearable devices for humans will be just as disruptive this year. In 2022 we will finally see mixed reality glasses come to market from a major player – this is one I’ve been excited about for some time. These new devices will open the door for all-new customer experiences and engagement. With smartphones, consumers have grown accustomed to purchasing connectivity and devices separately. However, growth in demand for new types of devices, requiring more specialized contextual connectivity models will drive change. The price of devices and services is more likely to be seamless and separated from connectivity charges, leading to more creative new partnerships and business models, for business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) engagement. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) will be forced to adapt if they’re going to succeed in the dawn of the metaverse.
Last, and perhaps most importantly, while operators worldwide are already busy hyping 5G radio to their customers, 2022 is the year that the benefits and potential of 5G standalone will actually come to market. Across the globe, customers will realize entirely new services on emerging devices, while CSPs will begin to harness the operational benefits that come with a new cloud native core. Just as communication services have evolved in the past, this time we’ll see a generational shift in the way people communicate for business and pleasure. The rich set of capabilities delivered with 5G standalone are just emerging, and 2022 is the year we begin to fulfill its promise.
NOTE: This post was adapted from an article that appeared in The Fast Mode, 03 January 2022.