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Telecommunications Predictions 2010

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Telecommunications predictions from the TMT Predictions 2010 series 

Our telecommunications predictions for 2010 are focused on the consequences of technological change, particularly digitization and mobile data, and are shaped by 2010’s economic outlook. The topics we address include the growing importance of mobile search for smartphones, the success of VoIP on mobile devices, changes in network technologies and pricing plans to cope with the explosion of data, changing contracts both in terms of uptime and duration, and finally the sector’s focus on reducing its environmental impact while saving money

The smartphone becomes a search-phone 

The smartphone will continue to thrive in 2010. Its share of the global mobile market is expected to grow, and it should enjoy solid increases in shipments, units, and dollar value. During the year, debates and headlines about smartphones are likely to be concentrated on supremacy among devices, manufacturers, and operating platforms. We believe that the most important battle to be waged in 2010 - leadership in mobile search - may fall outside of the radar screens of both analysts and the press, possibly because revenues from mobile search are expected to come in at a modest $1 to $2 billion. But mobile search providers could end up spending several times that amount in order to strategically position their companies to better exploit future income streams. 

Mobile VoIP becomes a social network 

Users and usage of mobile Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) should start to evolve from niche to mainstream in 2010, thanks to the availability of new services that blend a range of IP-based features around the mobile voice experience. In addition to offering low-cost calls, these services will offer a wide range of functionality including one-to-many calls, broadcast voice mail, and voice-to-text. Users of multifunction mobile VoIP services should reach tens of millions by end 2010. Rising adoption of these services could cause a fundamental shift in expectations as to what mobile voice can and should do. 

The line goes leaner. And greener 

The global telecommunications sector is likely to focus heavily on reducing direct and indirect CO2 emissions. On a per-line basis, emissions could fall by an average 10 percent - albeit against a background of increasing numbers of lines. The global telecommunications industry, serving over four billion customers with an average of 1.5 lines each, generates 183 million tons of CO2 annually. This amounts to about 0.7 percent of global emissions, a carbon footprint that compares favorably with the automotive and aviation sectors. Operators' focus on reducing emissions will be driven by two key factors, with cost being the common denominator. In developed countries, a primary motivation for making lines lean will be cost reduction. In developing countries, where networks are still adding subscribers, cost control is likely to be the imperative. 

Widening the bottleneck. 

Telecom technology helps decongest the mobile network Telecommunication technologies that make existing wireless networks perform better - hardware, software, and radio-frequency solutions - should experience much stronger growth than overall IT spending. Leading pure-play companies in this area are likely to see year-over-year growth approaching 100 percent, and even an average company is expected to grow by 30-40 percent. 

Nixing the nines 

Some businesses may decide to lower their reliability requirements from five nines, which is equivalent to just five minutes of downtime per year. They are likely to start determining quality levels on a per-application or per-process level, rather than unthinkingly opting for the highest availability levels across their portfolio of services. 

Contract 2.0: long-term solutions shorten and multiply

Enterprise demand for telecommunications solutions will rise, but contract terms will shorten from about 5 - 10 years to a minimum of about three years. A sustained enterprise focus on costs is likely to stoke demand for solutions. 

Paying for what we eat. Carriers change data pricing and make regulators happy 

North American network operators - both wireless and wireline - will likely move away from "all you can eat" data pricing plans. Instead, some customers will almost certainly be billed for how much data they use, and may even be charged for when they use it and also what kind of data is being used.