There’s no getting away from the figures; international voice minutes went down from 28 billion to 26 billion in the four years after 2012. Customers have researched new forms of communication and seen that they are cheaper and increasingly available to use.
With voice activated devices, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) will be used more and businesses will utilise cheap OTT communication apps like Skype to offer a low cost means of communication. If more big players come in and exploit VoIP, then the drop in international voice traffic may be even more marked than predicted. Considering this, it is not surprising that VoIP traffic is thought to have grown from 50 billion minutes to 61 billion minutes from 2016 through 2017.
Mirroring the growth in 5G, VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution) is expected to further grow in 2018, enabling more service providers to transition to all-IP networks.
Look out also for fewer, larger players on the near-horizon, as business acquisitions increase, allowing telecoms players to pool resources and share expertise.
Business Intelligence (BI)
LTE roaming has enabled growth in operator data revenues, but it has also driven a growth in competitor OTT services. Many operators have created new plans, services and tariffs, but there will be no return on these investments until they also invest in Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. It’s these BI solutions which will provide the insight needed into how services are used, and how effective they are. By finding hidden growth potential like understanding customer usage habits and being able to target subscribers with real-time targeted offers, operators will be able to keep up with the OTT service providers. Most importantly, perhaps, operators will be able to utilise BI insights to help unmute their silent roamers.
Internet of Things
To make the most of IoT opportunities, businesses will have to analyse data from a huge number of devices, sensors, geographies and the cloud. BI solutions will help this, as well as allowing companies to combat the very real threat of cyber hacking by spotting traffic irregularities immediately and taking action rapidly to prevent damage from cyber attacks.
IoT of course will boom during 2018 and beyond. There were already 309 million machine-to-machine connections in 2015, but this is expected to reach 2 billion by 2020. All of these deployments need to generate new revenue streams from connected services and business models. For operators, the biggest trends and opportunities to look at will be fleet and logistics, automotive and metering. Manufacturing has already seen growth with operators integrating IoT solutions into their existing networks to better serve the sector. Operators are already setting up dedicated IoT business units to ensure that they can service the coming growth that IoT will bring.