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Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01

Telecoms trends in 2011

By

Industry analyst Ovum has released a list of its predictions of the top telecoms trends for 2011.


Ovum's trends are shown in italics, followed by this writer's observations.

Windows Phone 7 will upset the status quo in the smartphone market by becoming the fastest-growing smartphone platform.

Given that we're talking about growth from an effectively zero base in 2010, it would be extremely bad news for Microsoft if Windows Phone 7 isn't the fastest growing platform in 2011.

Android will overtake the iPhone as the favourite with mobile developers by end of the year.

'Favourite' is an interesting choice of words as it is capable of different interpretations. Best set of development tools? Most familiar APIs? Most generous sales terms? Biggest user base? Greatest propensity to pay for software? (There's a point: does the buyer of a $199 Android handset have more money left to buy apps than the purchaser of a $719 iPhone, or did they have less money to start with?) The numerically largest set of developers? The market with the biggest revenue?

Cloud services will move from early adopter to the early mainstream stage and will have an impact on key emerging telco services.

It's hard to argue with the first part, but what we really need is for telcos to stay out of the way and concentrate on providing fast, reliable and affordable connections. Choosing a cloud service provider should be completely independent of choosing a carrier.

CONTINUED



Broadband will provide the fastest and most promising growth in emerging markets.

If you've already seen rapid growth in subscriber numbers and voice/SMS traffic, that leaves data.

The emerging market mobile subscriber land grab will begin to end with single-digit or low double-digit growth becoming the norm as competition intensifies.

Sure - the bigger the proportion of the addressable base that's already being served, the less potential there is for growth.

Web 2.0 intermediaries will increase their demand for managed services at a wholesale level.

Sounds like the continuation of the longstanding trend to outsource. And you don't expect to pay 'retail' prices when you're buying in bulk.

Wholesale markets will begin to take off across emerging countries.

It happened in developed markets, so why not?

CONTINUED



The 'fight' for the connected/extended home will accelerate.

Whatever that means...

There will be debate around data business models and tariff strategies and the arrival of innovative new approaches to data service charging.

Prepaid options that don't expire until you've used all the data you paid for would be a good starting point.

Making prime spectrum bands available for mobile broadband will need to be a top priority.

Well, yeah... If you haven't got the spectrum and coverage, how can you sell service? Oh, wait, judging by the number of complaints you heard about poor or non-existent service at various locations on certain carrier networks, maybe it's not that difficult, at least in the short term.

Regulators will become embroiled in a vigorously contested consultation process over the future of mobile termination rates.

Regulators will want a good deal for the individuals they ultimately represent, and carriers will want to keep picking those individuals' pockets for as long as possible, especially when it comes to international roaming. For example, one carrier charges $3.35 per minute to call an Australian number while roaming in the US. Yet the same carrier only charges 33c per minute for calls to the US from Australia, and one of the major US carriers charges 24c per minute for calls to Australia (even less to a landline). Even allowing for tromboning, it seems hard to justify a tenfold difference.

CONTINUED



Telcos will invest in customer service centres and back office technology as the customer is put at the centre of their operations.

Sure - and that'll be as real as "our people are our most important asset" (until we need to protect our executive bonuses by retrenching another few thousand of them). Offering to return the call if no one is immediately available to help the customer would be a good start. Better still, give customers less reason to call in the first place.

There will be further shake outs in the telecoms supply chain and to fare well vendors will need to execute well in high-growth applications such as mobile broadband and support customers' cost reduction and revenue growth.

Ask any businessperson: if you're not making life easier for your customer, they are open to approaches from someone who will.

Optical component growth will moderate with demand led by 10, 40 and 100G products but the underlying business fundamentals of the market will remain unchanged, maintaining an unstable supply chain.

Perhaps. But another firm, Global Industry Analysts (admittedly not an industry specialist) last week predicted "renewed growth in telecommunications demand as wireless and fiber networks replace copper wires as the primary means of transmission" and noted "fiber optic producers and investors expect a better time in 2011. The fiber optic industry is expected to undergo a 'V' shaped recovery and maintain a growth path that follows general industrial production into 2011 and beyond."

Feel free to return in January 2012 to comment on the accuracy of the various predictions.

 

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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