As Broadband Forum continues to drive forward broadband standards, fostering interoperability and accelerating mass-deployment, the backdrop to its members’ work is changing rapidly.
2019 saw the first commercial 5G deployments launched, while Internet of Things (IoT) devices proliferated across both the home and business spheres more rapidly than ever before, placing greater demand on Wi-Fi. At the same time, new software techniques such as open source and SDN and NFV started to be used by operators looking to cut expenses and get more from their networks.
Fast-forward to 2020, we spoke to a variety of leaders and experts from Broadband Forum hailing from Calix, Ericsson, Nokia, QA Cafe and its CMO and asked for their view on some of the upcoming broadband trends that will be making their impact on the industry in the coming months. Some of the trends include:
- Increased network convergence as 5G proliferates
- Cloudification, Automation and DevOps
- New revenue streams for service providers as Connected Home accelerates
- NG-PON2 and XGS-PON will create a multi-gigabit globe amid unprecedented demand for blazingly-fast connectivity
- A combination of open source and standards will underpin everything
The European Union is urging Netflix and other streaming platforms to stop showing video in high definition to prevent the internet from breaking under the strain of unprecedented usage due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With so many countries on forced lockdowns to fight the spread of the virus, hundreds of millions working from home and even more children out of school, EU officials are concerned about the huge strain on internet bandwidth.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who is responsible for the EU internal market covering more than 450 million people, said in a statement that given the unprecedented situation, streaming platforms, telecom operators and users “all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation.”
Ireland’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) is making progress, with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) announcing that 150 high-speed internet hubs will be active by the end of the year.
These hubs are the first half of the 300 proposed by the NBP, where the public will have access to free high-speed internet. These hubs are something of an interim measure, as NBI takes its time to map out the full-fiber network proposed by the Plan.
The NBP itself is still in its infancy. In November last year, the Irish government agreed to a €3 billion contract with NBI to complete the project, a scheme which aims to connect 537,000 premises currently considered ‘black spots’ for connectivity.
According to a Deloitte report, 6G will be finalized by the 2030s, when the UK will be reaching the limits of 5G, readying for 6G and contemplating 7G.
The company also predicts that more than 1,000 companies worldwide will be evaluating or have deployed 5G in industrial environments, such as factories, ports, and logistics centers, by the end of 2020.
“By 2030, 5G will have benefited consumers indirectly and in the form of better products and services,” said Paul Lee, Global Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications Research at Deloitte. “There will be more flexible factories enabled by 5G, which will shorten waiting times for customized goods. More so, infrastructures, from railway tracks to suspension bridges to pipelines, should also be better maintained, thanks to 5G transmitting 8K video to machine vision capabilities that are trained to identify fissures and cracks early on.”
“In 2030, millions of homes may also be connected via 5G, as well as fiber, and 6G will have been designed to address the next decade’s connectivity needs,” he added.
The widespread coronavirus-induced “work from home” directive, now imposed or suggested in many countries, looks certain to test the resiliency of communications networks and applications in the coming months, according to Ray Le Maistre, of Light Reading.
As a result, digital collaboration platforms will be in the immediate front line as in-person meetings make way for multi-person, multimedia online meetings. While work-at-home directives have become more widespread in the past few days, the collaboration platforms have been preparing for a surge in use for the past few weeks.
“All the major videoconferencing companies, such as WebEx, and they all use our network, and want upgrades, in the past ten days they have all asked for capacity upgrades,” said Mattias Fridström, of Telia Carrier.
In the meantime, conferencing and collaboration platforms are where the action is, and while the likes of WebEx will already have significant corporate customer bases tied to contracts, many small companies may now be seeking a service for the first time, opening up an opportunity for new entrants.
According to the latest insights from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) smart home devices market – which includes smart home appliances, home security, lighting, smart speakers, and video entertainment devices – saw strong growth in the final quarter of 2019. As a result, the smart home market expanded by 35.6% to reach 5.3 million units by the end of 2019.
IDC’s research shows that the growth rates varied significantly across the different product categories that make up this market, with smart video entertainment continuing to be the main driver of both shipments and revenue in the region. At the other end of the scale, shipments of smart speakers experienced a decline in Q4 2019.
“As things stand, smart speakers do not support Arabic for voice-enabled commands, which is obviously a key inhibitor of uptake within this region,” said Isaac T. Ngatia, a senior research analyst at IDC.
UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed that the government will legislate to make sure new-build homes come with gigabit-speed broadband fit for the future, accelerating the nationwide rollout of world-class broadband.
The move will allow people to work from home more easily and will give homes fast and reliable connections for streaming TV and films on multiple devices at the same time. It will also mean that developers will be legally required to install high-quality digital infrastructure from the outset, make it a priority as part of the build, and ensure broadband companies are on board before the first brick is laid.
“This legislation means every new home will be built fit for the future and give people access to world-class broadband speeds from the moment they move in,” said Dowden. “It’s all part of our plan to deliver on our commitment to give everyone in the UK access to gigabit broadband, as we connect and level up the country.”
A Series of Fortunate Events – by Broadband Forum
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