2017: The Age of Collaboration and Interoperability

2016 was an interesting year for the telecoms world. Once upon a time, the mobile platform was used as a standalone channel by operators to provide core voice services. And while voice services still remain one of the biggest revenue streams for MNOs, in 2016 mobile evolved to become a baseline for new, branded digital experiences.

Mobile remained in the spotlight, thanks to popular messaging apps, emerging chat bots and the exploding Internet of Things creating new touch-points and means of communication. The main actors in this digital revolution are the digital service providers and MVNOs. As new entrants to the telecoms market, these players challenged traditional telcos in providing the voice and video calling services that we now take for granted.

And so we witnessed a year of convergence, as carriers, digital service providers and MVNOs began to collaborate, sharing assets and insights for mutual gain and service innovation. The telecoms and developer world collided, with API tools and crowd sourced data being shared to combat telecoms fraud, as well as provide connectivity services to developing parts of the world such as Africa.

2017 will continue to be a year of collaboration and interoperability, as these mix of players continue to collaborate on the different technologies that are powering our digital economy.

In June 2017, roaming charges in Europe will finally be abolished, and this will put pressure on wholesale prices despite the fact that roaming traffic is predicted to increase substantially. This will pose major challenges for the protagonists of the carrier world; wholesalers will be prompted to act in order to meet the evolving needs of customers in a rapidly changing market environment. We’ll begin to see wholesalers take a more important role in shaping the digital transformation of services, through the interconnection and interoperability of different networks.

From BICS’ perspective, despite the challenges that await next year, carriers are poised to transform the industry like never before. The Internet of Things will prompt new deployments of connectivity solutions that take advantage of cloud functionalities; this will only gain more ground in 2017 as more equipment manufacturers and enterprises look to embed global connectivity in their devices.

While such value-added services, including new tools to combat fraud or monetise assets, will attract interest generally across the global telecoms industry, we expect to see Asia Pacific, America and Africa becoming more prevalent in the uptake of services as these developing regions look to satisfy the increasing appetite for connectivity from consumers. In order for change to take hold next year, it will be important for players within the industry to break free of old ways of working, changing their mind-sets so that innovation and collaboration become the new operating model.