Global telecommunication industry 2020: Key trends, innovations, and growth opportunities

Global Telecommunication Industry 2020

The global telecommunication industry is witnessing an unprecedented change at a rapid pace.  Evolving communication technologies are aimed towards achieving enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable and low latency communications, and massive machine-type interactions seamlessly. Cellular wireless networks are incorporating innovative techniques such as software defined networking (SDN), heterogeneous networks, and virtualization to optimize communication. Here’s a deep-dive into the key trends and innovations impacting the global telecommunication market in 2020.

Wider application of 5G

The latest communication standard – 5G – is seen as the platform which not only supports mobile broadband but also an array of applications such as massive machine-type communication, autonomous vehicles, public safety and other applications that demand higher connectivity with low latency feature. Theoretically, 5G is capable of being 20 times faster than 4G, thereby resulting in quicker data transfer with more reliability and minimal delay. Additional radio-frequency bands for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) are identified by the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) to facilitate the development of 5G networks in the near future.

Machine learning and multi-access edge computing

Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, edge computing, cloud computing, and AR/VR are driving the current global telecommunication industry. AI is being deployed by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) for technical on-field work such as coding algorithms, network management, and security. It is also being utilized for data processing and its orchestration. Machine Learning (ML) algorithms have proved to cope up with increasing network complexities as well. These algorithms increase the network feasibility of self-organization, thus enhancing the efficiency and robustness of network operations. ML also enables new advanced applications that provide network optimization and reliable network data predictions.

Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) enables application developers and content providers with high bandwidth to optimize backhaul demands, and ultra-low latency access to cloud computing/IT services for workflow proficiency. MEC functionalities are also being identified to support network splicing. The 5G edge computing framework will be a crucial element in the growth of the telecom industry as it helps in maximizing operational efficiency.

Heterogeneous Networks (HetNet) for efficient network planning

HetNet refers to an intricate network system that harnesses different types of communication technologies across an array of cell types to deliver higher data capacity and data coverage. HetNet provides multiple legacy systems like 3G, LTE, and Wi-Fi with traffic rerouting/offloading options related to LIPA (Local IP Access), SIPTO (Selected IP Traffic Offload) with or without mobile operator support for better connectivity. Operators can potentially provide a more consistent customer experience than what can be achieved with homogeneous networks by integrating different technologies depending on the topology of the coverage area. HetNet leverages self-optimization, self-healing, and self-configuration to address high operational expenditures encountered during traditional network monitoring.

Ultra-Dense Networks (UDN): Addressing the capacity demand for IoT devices

UDN has emerged as an effective solution plugging into the extremely high capacity and density requirements of IMT-2020 (5G) networks. UDN uses soft frequency reuse methods to avoid dynamic interferences; a concept that will introduce a paradigm shift from a small cell to a cell-less wireless future by integrating operator-driven hyper-dense small cell deployments and complementary radio access networks.

November 2019 saw Accelleran and AirHop Communications collaborating to release ultra-dense small cells with a self-organizing network (SON) to attain a two-figured capacity growth and data throughput gains.

Untapped Spectrum (mmWave and Terahertz wave): Leading to future network deployments

mmWave communication is paving the way for faster, wireless broadband deployment by eliminating blockades for small cell infrastructure distribution. Minuscular antennae are capable of concentrating signals into highly focused beams while offering a wider spectrum usage and higher data rates with the help of extremely short mmWave wavelength signals. Advancements in mmWave technology are also allowing manufacturers to build dynamic multi-element antennae that are compact enough to fit inside handsets and portable devices.

Verizon has deployed its non-standardized fixed 5G service, called 5G Home, in the U.S. and is using mmWave spectrum to deliver data to users. Movandi, a 5G deployment solution startup, has raised USD 40 million while exhibiting their innovative BeamXR technology to overcome mmWave’s line-of-sight issues while maintaining low latency and extending coverage.

Massive MIMO communication techniques: Boosting network capacity

Massive MIMO utilizes multiple antennae elements and 5G cellular networks to send and receive streams of signals simultaneously by leveraging beamforming techniques and maximizing valuable spectrum resources. It also offers extended coverage which allows operators to avoid densification requiring costly new base stations.

Massive MIMO technology, within a 4G LTE context, is already deployed on a commercial level in China and Japan. Ericsson won the award for the Best Mobile Network Infrastructure at MWC 2019 in Barcelona with its 5G high-band Massive MIMO capable of combining mmWave Massive MIMO over New Radio (NR) with NR on low band.

Network virtualization: Shifting network functions from hardware to software

Network function virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN) are driving the virtualization of the entire global communication system to ensure the smooth functioning of network platforms. The proliferation of IoT applications, AV/VR and AI, and ML technologies in the market space has led to high data throughput processing becoming the norm. Telecom companies have therefore turned to vRAN to accommodate the upcoming 5G setup with customers’ growing requirements. Deployment of vRAN not only reduces the load by eliminating the hardware cost but also eases the hoax that accompanies upgradation of new technologies and standards.

Altiostar, a US-based network transformation company, has already exhibited its capability to deliver a 5G-ready vRAN software solution to the market. This system is proficient at supporting open interfaces while segregating the hardware from the software to construct an open multi-vendor web-scale network. Moreover, Altiostar has collaborated with AirHop to deliver real-time network intelligence for open cloud-native 5G mobile networks.

Distributed cloud computing: Fully connected intelligent infrastructure for data processing and time-critical applications

Distributed cloud system is a network that harnesses cloud storage capabilities to deliver data to a user or an application across multiple geographical sites while keeping the complexities of resource allocations hidden from the end-user. This system is established on SDN, 3GPP edge computing, and NFV technologies that facilitate multi-access and multi-cloud capabilities while unlocking system grids to provide an open platform for developers to generate application innovations. Along with edge computing, distributed cloud can provide new services with high requirements of latency and services which will save bandwidth in the network.  

In the same vein, Rakuten Mobile Network’s distributed cloud platform will be utilized for virtualized applications of cloud distribution in global telecommunication. The company has collaborated with Cisco for the 5G system architecture which aims to provide a fully virtualized core by using Cisco’s NFVI and Orchestration technologies.

High Altitude Platform System (HAPS): Stratospheric telecommunication platform

The evolving need for the expansion of broadband connectivity has led to the creation of HAPS. These systems have the capability to deliver telecommunication and broadband services in rural and remote locations beyond the reach of traditional forms of transmission. Advancements in solar panel efficiency, futuristic low-density materials, superior battery output, automated drone tech, and compact antennae have all resulted in HAPS becoming more viable for the global telecommunication industry.

Moreover, it can be used to provide fixed broadband connectivity for end-users and transmission links between mobile and core networks for backhauling traffic. It can also be deployed for delivering disaster-recovery communications with minimal ground network infrastructure. A new resolution passed in WRC-19 identifies additional frequency bands for HAPS systems. HAPS Mobile – a subsidiary of SoftBank – successfully completed testing of HAWK30 which is a solar-powered HAPS test flight on September 11, 2019, at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Centre (AFRC) in California. HAWK30’s state-of-the-art telecommunication system is purported to deliver next-gen global connectivity.

With groundbreaking innovations paving the way for faster and more efficient connectivity, the global telecommunication industry is predicted to go through a massive overhaul in the coming years. For in-depth technology research and analysis surrounding strategic global telecommunication projects and product development, contact

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