As we step into 2024, the telecom industry is undergoing a radical transformation as it adapts to changing customer needs, technological innovations, and environmental challenges. In this article, we will explore five key trends that are expected to shape the telecom industry in 2024 and beyond.
Rise of Self-Service Platforms
The telecom industry is embracing the shift toward an increasing reliance on self-service platforms. Consumers are demanding more control over their services, and companies are responding by providing intuitive, user-friendly interfaces. From managing subscription plans to troubleshooting technical issues, self-service platforms are improving customer satisfaction, reducing operational costs, and increasing loyalty. As the world increasingly adopts mobile-first strategies, we can expect to see more mobile apps that allow customers to control their services, track data usage, and troubleshoot common problems on the go from their mobile devices. This self-service trend has the potential to completely transform the consumer experience in 2024 as businesses continue to invest in cutting-edge technologies.
Migration to VoIP as PSTN Bows Out
The traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) that has been used for landline calls for decades is becoming obsolete and expensive to maintain. BT has announced that it will retire the PSTN by December 2025, and other companies have similar plans. This means the telecom industry is rapidly moving towards VoIP as the new standard. To accommodate the growing demand for VoIP services, we can expect a significant surge in businesses making the switch. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may lead this charge due to the cost-effectiveness and scalability of VoIP solutions.
Moreover, as more businesses embrace VoIP, we will likely witness an influx of telecom operators entering the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market. Recognizing the shifting landscape and the demand for integrated communication solutions, these operators will position themselves as providers of comprehensive UCaaS offerings. Therefore, the UCaaS market will witness heightened competition as telecom operators strive to differentiate themselves by offering value-added services such as advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven insights, and seamless integration with other business applications.
Standalone 5G Networks Take Center Stage
5G is the next generation of mobile technology, promising faster speeds, lower latency, and increased capacity. However, the majority of current 5G deployments are based on non-standalone (NSA) designs that use existing 4G networks for core functions. To take advantage of the full potential of 5G, telecom operators will be transitioning to standalone (SA) designs, which employ a 5G core network that is independent of 4G. As of October 2023, a total of 121 operators in 55 countries had invested in public 5G SA networks. We expect to see this number grow in 2024.
SA 5G enables two additional use cases beyond enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), being the massive Internet of Things (IoT), and ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC). These use cases can enable a variety of corporate applications, including smart manufacturing, self-driving cars, remote surgery, and virtual reality.
AI’s Integration for Enhanced Connectivity
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the telecom industry by enabling new capabilities, products, and services. In 2024, we will see AI’s impact extend across various facets of telecom operations, including fault detection and resolution, fraud prevention, customer service through chatbots and virtual assistants, and content creation. When used for fault detection, AI can swiftly identify anomalies, aiding in the rapid resolution of security threats and network failures. Fraud prevention involves the implementation of biometric authentication and behavioral analysis to combat identity theft and unauthorized access. Chatbots and virtual assistants will further enhance customer service through natural language processing, personalized responses, and sentiment analysis. By leveraging AI, telecom operators can reduce their costs by 20 to 40%, increase their revenues by 5 to 15%, and improve customer satisfaction by 10 to 15%.
Commitment to Sustainability
The telecom industry has a huge impact on the environment, as it consumes large amounts of energy and emits a hefty 3 to 4% of global carbon emissions. With the growing demand for data and connectivity in 2024, the industry’s environmental footprint is predicted to expand even more, unless participants take measures to reduce their carbon output. Telecom operators are expected to prioritize sustainability initiatives within the framework of a circular economy. This entails a shift towards using renewable energy sources to power network infrastructure, thereby reducing the carbon footprint associated with energy consumption. Additionally, there will likely be a concerted effort to address Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.
This commitment to sustainability not only aligns with global environmental goals but also enhances the industry’s reputation and contributes to a more eco-conscious and responsible telecom landscape. It is anticipated that telecom operators may reach net-zero emissions by 2050 while also assisting other businesses in reducing their emissions.
The telecom industry is an exciting and fast-changing field as it adapts to the evolving needs, preferences, and expectations of its customers. These trends will have a huge impact on how telecom carriers operate, innovate, and compete, and will require them to invest in new technologies, capabilities, and solutions. We can’t wait to see what type of new opportunities these emerging trends will create for telecom carriers.