2023 Informed: IoT and Telecoms predictions
1: 2023 is the year of IoT and 5G
“I expect to see rapid advancements in the use of Augmented Reality, deployment of chatbots and the expansion of 5G as three key trends in 2023 that, if utilised, can help accelerate growth for many forward thinking businesses.
“In particular, an effective 5G network provides fast data transfer, and is essential to the newest technologies and IoT. It’s vital all areas of the UK, not just the south-east, benefit from it. We still have extreme tech-poverty in parts of the north of England and in rural locations across the country. This has to end.
“The Internet of Things will be even bigger this time next year than it is now. The IoT is an extensive system of electronic devices that automatically communicates and exchanges various information and data through the web. Every year, the number of IoT devices used by a single person increases. It is estimated that by 2030, each person will be using up to 20 IoT devices so the next 12 months will be key in bringing more and more people up to speed with the benefits of the IoT, and how it can help them in their everyday lives. As IoT grows, so must our awareness of the security risks – we often think of cyber security at work but must be just as vigilant at home.”
Mark Wiseman, group commercial director, Connectus Group
“2023 will be the year IoT finally becomes accessible to businesses. Lots of things are falling into place to enable this: private networks, standalone 5G, roaming, easier public-private access and more functional eSIMs and iSIMs. As a result, enterprises across sectors like manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare will be able to deploy and utilise connected devices without needing the telecom expertise that often bottlenecks them.”
Divya Ghai Wakankar, VP Enterprise Market, BICS
2: 5G will stand alone
“We are entering the 2nd Wave of 5G deployment.”
“Where the 1st Wave of 5G was driven by relatively mature markets and consumer use cases like eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband), the 2nd Wave will engage a diverse set of new audiences. To be sure, many familiar dynamics will remain, including a focus on compelling and affordable devices, continued network modernisation, and “the three S’s” – sustainability, security, and spectrum.
“However, the extension to new use cases and markets will challenge the mobile ecosystem to prove that 5G truly is flexible enough to meet diverse industry-, market- and operator-specific demands in a way that’s both inclusive and innovative.
“In short, it’s no exaggeration to say that this 2nd Wave will be more important than the 1st Wave. Yes, 5G has got off to an incredible start. But now it must deliver, enriching lives and societies in all corners of the world.
“It is very likely that the 2nd Wave will be successful in extending the reach and value of 5G in a sustainable and secure manner. The ecosystems of operators, solution providers, and end-users (consumer and enterprise) will demand that it succeeds in living up to its potential.
“The real question, then, is how quickly the 2nd Wave will unfold – will we see evidence of it in 2023? Will economic headwinds mean that the 2nd Wave gets off to slower start than its predecessor? Will 4G remain the dominant mobile broadband technology well beyond 2025?
“It may seem trite to suggest that the answer is “time will tell.” But that’s completely accurate.”
Peter Jarich, head of GSMA Intelligence
“The last few years have seen a fair share of hype and hysteria surrounding 5G’s gradual deployment around the world. And yet, it has not quite delivered on its world-changing promise. Why? Because most ‘5G’ networks today are non-standalone – built on the back of 4G core infrastructure. Implementing a 5G core brings complex integration challenges, and crucially, the task of cracking roaming connections for 5G Standalone.
“In 2023, the industry will finally crack the challenges around roaming and network slicing and start to supplant non-standalone 5G within public and private networks with standalone 5G. Only standalone networks can deliver the high-speed and low-latency connectivity to deliver on 5G’s promises, particularly for enterprise use cases for IoT and M2M.
“Many feel the move from 4G to 5G and even “5.5G” has fallen flat, but in 2023, 5G will finally stand up and be counted.”
Mikaël Schachne, VP Telco Market, BICS
“2023 will be the time to look beyond the wireless radio network and usher in access to faster, more reliable, and secure connectivity through standalone networks to capitalise on all 5G has to offer.
“While the possibilities within new 5G use cases and business models are promising, the reality is that most of these innovations will necessitate standalone 5G networks to bring the sophisticated controls and experiences shaping capabilities that 5G can deliver. Right now, while 80%+ of the communication service provider (CSP) community have (or are) deploying 5G radio, only ~10% of the CSPs have enabled the 5G network core functionality.
“While the roll-out of non-standalone networks was an essential first step in 5G’s global adoption, they can’t deliver all the functionality and ultra-low latency that 5G is capable of. This is especially true for revolutionary IoT applications like Industry 4.0, self-driving cars, the metaverse, edge computing, etc.”
Niall Norton, general manager, Amdocs Open Network, CEO of Openet
“2023 could be the year that separates the leaders in 5G from those who decide to delay investment due to “5G fatigue.
“As Communication Service Providers (CSPs) want faster monetisation of 5G, recession fears loom, and the cost of energy increases, some have formed a shortsighted view of the network’s true long-term impact. However, industry leaders are seeing a much different picture, with 5G investments already paying off for customers through increased video/gaming usage on 5G (vs. 4G), private 5G networks and customised network packages, demonstrating a taste of what’s possible.
“As CSPs continue to shift from an “infrastructure” to a “platform” strategy, 5G monetisation will open new business models that were not feasible before the 5G & edge combination was available to CSPs. Looking back, we will not see 5G as an upgrade of 4G but as a foundation for many new Gs, partnerships, and business models.
“The reality is that 5G is mission critical to the future of enhanced connectivity and all the innovations and transformative technology that come along with that, so disinvesting or delaying the investment or waiting for a killer use case will only make companies vulnerable to having to play catch up in the future. Those who capitalised on 5G’s early commercialisation will be the first to reap the rewards from the new revenue streams it creates.”
Ragu Masilamany, VP and global head of Solutions Engineering, Amdocs
3: Satellites to take off
“Satellite connectivity grabbed headlines in 2022, with stories like the launch of Starlink and the new iPhone supporting satellite-to-phone connectivity. For those reading about non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) for the first time this year, you’d forgive them for assuming their aim is to improve connectivity for the average consumer or business. In 2023 satellite networks are going to change the global connectivity landscape, but not in the way everyone expects.
“The immediate potential of NTNs lies not in developed countries, but in bridging the “digital divide” in developing, remote, and rural areas around the world. Approximately 6% of the world’s population lives on the other side of the digital divide, meaning around 450 million people are locked out of digital communications. Satellite networks (which are already being launched) promise to address this lack of connectivity in rural and remote areas around the world, and it’s going to happen a lot sooner than you think.”
Mikaël Schachne, VP Telco Market, BICS
“In 2023, we will see the development of non-terrestrial networks (NTNs), otherwise known as 5G satellite communications, accelerate, with the technology used to help close the digital divide. Traditional telcos will partner with NTN providers, in addition to new entrants and traditional satellite companies all looking to make inroads in this space.
“One of the major trends in telecoms – OpenRAN – which sees the RAN processing split across the radio unit (RU), centralised unit (CU) and distributed unit (DU), is an innovation that will also have a major impact on satellite networks throughout 2023. In this architecture, the gNB (the RU, CU and DU) can be modified for installation on the satellite and integration with the ground segment, enabling inter-satellite connectivity and flexibility in how the networks operate. This open architecture will open the door for ‘alternative’ RAN players – particularly those active in today’s OpenRAN networks – to offer radio, software and software solutions to support satellite connectivity.
“For telcos and traditional satellite companies, 5G NTNs is an unchartered territory (excuse the space pun). These companies will be looking to partner with experts that can help them join the dots between this new infrastructure and terrestrial networks, along with the new and existing vendors.”
Adrian Hillier, next-generation market lead, TTP
4: Increased interest in private 5G and decentralised networks
“In 2023, we will see more enterprises selecting private cellular networks as an alternative or complementary technology to WiFi. The market, which has seen a growing number of trials, is finally beginning to understand the benefits private cellular can offer.
“Private cellular networks can outperform Wi-Fi for in-building and outdoor coverage reach, providing faster connectivity and the ability to connect large numbers of devices or users, while offering advantages in security and a breadth of use cases.
“Network management tools have become more intelligent, and previously-complex cellular networks can now be operated by enterprises’ IT teams, rather than being outsourced by an integrator or service provider. As a result, we’ve seen a variety of companies across a wide range of verticals – from education, to manufacturing, healthcare, oil and gas and agriculture – deploy private cellular networks.
“As enterprises weigh up their connectivity options, private cellular networks will become the chosen for many as they look to address their connectivity challenges in 2023.”
Tony Eigen, VP Marketing, Baicells
“Decentralised Wireless (DeWi) networks, leveraging blockchain technology and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), transfer the power and control of the network to the users. As such, they have emerged as a viable alternative to managing and extending public wireless infrastructure across rural areas and cities.
“This model is encouraged by the fact that network participants are rewarded in cryptocurrency from their DeWi operator based on the number of users that connect – generating excitement and peer-to-peer advocacy. It allows for the rapid deployment of infrastructure where it’s needed most – indoors and out.
“2023 will see even more innovation in this space. The advances in operational simplicity and economics made to small cells means that can support a growing number of DeWi use cases, from private wireless networks for enterprises to coverage enhancements for venue owners.
We will see more operators experimenting with DeWi as another tool in the connectivity toolbox as densification efforts continue with the continued rollout of 5G services.T-Mobile has already got on board with Helium, and Dish is an investor in Pollen Mobile. XNET is also working with the big carriers on neutral host models.
“Some have referred to DeWi players as the “new telecom cowboys” – 2023 is the year these networks will be considered as a serious alternative to traditional carrier connectivity.”
Tony Eigen, VP Marketing, Baicells
5: Submarine cable investment to grow
“This year has seen unprecedented media and government attention to submarine cables, as geopolitics has brought this often unknown network that carries over 95% of all intercontinental communications into greater focus. In 2023, the importance of critical submarine cable infrastructure will become more broadly known and understood, as it continues to underpin global connectivity and the digital economy upon which we now depend.
“TeleGeography forecast in April that new submarine cable investment could exceed $10 billion globally between 2022-2024. While every major submarine network route has seen new cables deployed between 2016-2021, in recent years a significant level of investment has been driven by hyperscalers and their inter data centre interconnection traffic. This pace of investment will only continue in 2023.
“Africa is irrefutably one of the world’s most important growth markets for the coming years and continues to embrace digital transformation. We can expect that Africa will be a key region for investment in new deployments, as well as upgrades to existing routes. Several existing cables, as well as the new Equiano and 2Africa cables, form the latest submarine links to the content. The staggering amount of available submarine network capacity surrounding the continent will have a significant and positive impact on digital transformation for Africans to help to shrink the digital divide.
“2023 will also see analytics-driven automation and software control take on greater importance, particularly due to the prominence and popularity of high fiber count cables and active branching units. Sustainability will continue to drive this automation and the evolution of fiber optic transmission technology as it becomes a competitive differentiator for both equipment vendors and cable operators.”
Brian Lavallée, senior director of Solutions Marketing, Ciena
6: The end of the SIM
“The SIM card’s days are numbered, and 2023 will be the year it’s finally replaced for good. SIM cards have been around since the early 1990s, making them practically archaic in the fast-moving world of technology. Better alternatives like the eSIM and iSIM are beginning to gain traction as they mean devices can swap between different networks without the need to physically swap SIM cards.
“Apple has made the first move in the consumer space, retiring the SIM card in favour of eSIMs in the new iPhone14 – it’s no doubt that other manufacturers will soon follow suit. In the enterprise world, eSIMs mean connected IoT devices can freely move around the world, including between public and private networks, while staying connected at all times. Beyond this, we will see even further evolution in the way of the iSIM, which is directly embedded in IoT devices’ hardware and will enable even more advanced use cases.
“The humble SIM card has had a long and successful career but the age of the eSIM is here and with it – the future, and industry 4.0.”
Divya Ghai Wakankar, VP Enterprise Market, BICS
7: As IoT booms, so will security risks
“The security concerns associated with connecting a wide array of IoT devices and smart products will continue to grow as more companies embrace the remote model as a standard. According to the hiring habits of over 1,000 hiring managers within the United States, predictions indicate that 22%, almost one in four, of the American workforce will be remote by 2025. That hypothesis indicates that nearly 36.2 million Americans should plan to work remotely. That’s an 87% increase from pre-pandemic predictions (Upwork research).
“Companies need to educate employees on digital best practices and provide additional guidance on corporate security standards to be equipped with knowledge to deter would-be hackers and protect their business.”
Syed Zaeem Hosain, chief technology officer and founder, Aeris Communications
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