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Cautious yet optimistic telecom professionals tell tales of 2024 and beyond

According to Telecoms.com’s latest Annual Industry 2023 Report, the industry is mostly happy with its business performance in 2023 but even more optimistic for the coming year.

Armita Satari

December 4, 2023

3 Min Read

The newly published Telecoms.com 2023 Annual Industry Survey Report takes stock at the industry’s performance over this year and the views of professionals on the outlook of 2024 and beyond. 

A generally positive sense seeps through as more than half of respondents (55%) believe that the business performance of telecoms in 2023 has been ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, while also agreeing on a more positive outlook for next year.

The survey goes on investigating the industry’s views on the most overhyped technologies, priority investment areas, and biggest threats to business. Interestingly, while AI is considered the top priority investment area by nearly half the respondents, the report reveals that almost equally as many industry professionals see it as an overhyped technology, making it the ‘Marmite’ of telecoms.

The report also reveals a strong consensus when it comes to the biggest threat to profit and long-term business success. More than half of respondents agree that increased pressure to lower prices and profit margins poses as the biggest single threat. This finding adds to the trends observed in the survey results of the past few years.

Zooming in on a core telco area, 5G, another technology that divides the survey respondents is Mobile Edge Computing.

The report explains that around half of respondents view edge capabilities as important, including just over one in ten who view it as critical, and nearly two in five who consider edge capabilities as a priority for next year.

But what the results also show that the other half of the industry disagrees on this point: “nearly two in five respondents [39%] state the technology is not very important and as such a priority only in the next 3 years […], and a further one in ten respondents (10%) that believe it is not important and not a priority within the next 3 years.”

In other news on 5G, the findings indicate a rejuvenated focus on enterprise verticals, underscoring earlier expectations of 5G capabilities and use cases beyond enhanced mobile broadband. Specific attention is drawn to opportunities that combine private networks and network slicing.

Drilling further down into the support systems that need to underpin new network opportunities, the telecom professionals’ responses highlight limited automation and self-service capabilities as the biggest challenge currently facing telcos’ billing systems. Another key challenge is the difficulty when aiming to integrate billing systems with other systems.

The report further uncovers that while many view the public cloud as a key point of entry to reaping the benefits of AI/ML related services, many continue to face a mix bag of challenges such as security, regulatory, and legacy infrastructure.

Relatedly, the results show that network optimisation and predictive maintenance are highly regarded as the best AI applications, but that security and data privacy still concern many.

Nonetheless, the great majority of respondents are considering AI to some level, including at least having conversations about pursuing AI and exploring its applications in telecoms.

On the whole, the results and analysis in this report show that telecom professionals are hopeful for 2024. But looking at wider global developments, there is a huge amount of market, economic, and political volatility that will certainly leave its mark on all industries including telecoms. To combat these, the report suggests “these may be addressed through regulatory changes or more strategically, e.g., involving new business models and expanding into adjacent technologies that offer greater potential for success.”  

If you fancy reading the full analysis and get access to the data sitting behind the results, you can download the report here.

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