Top Business Telecommunications Trends for 2017-2020

There’s no question that we’ve seen a lot of changes on the consumer side of telecom over the past year. And all this change has put a lot of pressure on telecom networks. What are the biggest culprits? Most of the change came from live video streaming and the rise of augmented reality apps like Pokemon GO. But 2016 was a busy year of change for businesses too. And 2017 has so far been no different.

On the business telecom side, we’ve seen strong encryption practices put in place by all types of organizations that are increasingly concerned about data privacy. Huge strides have been made in 5G development. And we’ve also seen a big push for SDN (software-defined networking), especially SD-WAN, to replace traditional WAN (wide-area networks).

The top service providers continue to invest in future-proofing their networks for the tumultuous years ahead.

The Future of Business Network Security

2016 was a year marked by data breaches and compromised networks. And so telecom service providers have come to the conclusion that more needs to be done to protect network traffic; hence the push for stronger encryption practices for software-defined network infrastructure like SD-WAN. Believe it or not, we’re now at the point where cloud applications can be used as securely as applications on a private network. And the security of data transferred over the cloud is only going to get stronger.

A holistic approach to network security is crucial. It’s no longer enough to only secure certain parts of your network. But top providers have already risen to this challenge, providing high-level encryption and security layers for software-defined services, making them as (or more) secure than traditional on-premise options.

This security extends to SD-WANs for companies with locations spread across the country. Network security has advanced to the point where each node in a distributed network is as secure as any other. That means no weak access points for malicious users to gain access to sensitive customer data.

Start Preparing for 5G

The race for 5G is on. In fact, it’s possible that we’ll see the first 5G commercial offerings toward the end of 2017.

Many providers are already laying the technological and regulatory foundation for 5G. But R&D isn’t limited to the telecom industry. Companies in industries like agriculture, transportation, and energy are inventing in potential high-value use cases for 5G technology, hoping that it will improve their ability to manage supply chains and deliver high-quality services to consumers.

But despite these advances, we won’t likely see wide adoption of 5G until 2020. Still, it’s clear even today that companies are eager to take leverage 5G and promise of higher speeds, efficiency and lower latency for internet-connected products like vehicles and sensors, and of course traditional mobile devices like smartphones.

Speaking of smartphone, 2016 was another big year for business mobility. And we don’t expect 2017 to be any different. According to the latest Global Mobile Consumer Survey (GMCS), US consumers looked at their devices more than 9 billion times a day (that’s 13% more than the year before). What’s more, smartphone adoption grew by 10%, with the fastest growth coming from the 45+ demographic, a group that has previously lagged younger users in smartphone uptake.

All this growth is fueling huge investments in mobile infrastructure. So we can expect to see faster and more robust networks continue to become available for businesses and consumers alike.

Welcome to the Internet of Things

Maybe the biggest story of the past year is the Internet of Things (IoT). You can expect to see continued growth in the adoption of IoT technology in 2017.

Of course, on the consumer side, we’ve seen more wearables, smart home technology like Amazon’s Echo and the Nest Thermostat, and connected cars, but we’re also seeing smart IoT business technology being used for things like fleet management, parking lot monitoring, outdoor and indoor lighting control, and security. Expect to see even faster growth in these areas in the years ahead.

Autonomous vehicles could be particularly disruptive for a number of industries. It’s looking more and more like they’re going to be a viable solution in the near future, far earlier than anyone could have predicted just a couple of years ago. And it’s not just autonomous consumer vehicles that are nearing market readiness, but also large trucks and other commercial vehicles.

A little further on the horizon, but still worth thinking about, is the possibility of our smartphones coming with built-in machine learning capabilities. There’s been a lot of talk about machine learning and artificial intelligence lately, but not much about how this technology could affect our handheld devices.

It’s possible that new smartphones equipped with AI technology could help users perform advanced tasks through augmented reality, advanced speech recognition, indoor navigation, and proactive digital assistants.

There’s no question about it. In 2017, mobile connectivity is a big part of our personal and professional lives. The next several years will surely reveal even more impressive use cases for the devices we carry with us everywhere we go. Telecom service providers understand this, and continue to invest in updating key infrastructure and preparing for the arrival of 5G.

Are you looking to future-proof your business?

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