January 14, 2015 — Overall 2014 was an exciting time in the wireless world. Mobile innovations brought us the early days of wearable devices and the beginnings of the connected home. Apple and Samsung continued to push the size limits of mobile devices. Mobile consolidation efforts continued with Softbank and Sprint and T-Mobile USA brought us low-low pricing battles. 2015 has the earmarks for more monumental shifts in the mobile landscape.
In the new year, expect more focus on Network Function Virtualization (NFV) in enterprise and mobile networks, edge and cloud services and Software Defined Networking (SDN) to drive network transformation as the industry moves from capex to opex. Big Data will grow as enterprise IT vendors and mobile carriers alike leverage data analysis for localization content, context and services for advertising and brand loyalty. There will be continued focus on data security for data centers services, as well as in the enterprise and at home. Mobile network evolution from to LTE and beyond continues, especially as wearables and the growth of the “Internet of Things” make the case for improved use of higher spectrum for last mile access to enhance our quest for an “Always-on” experience.
Here are a few key predictions for the wireless market:
Mobile macro networks will see OpEx spend match CapEx spend by years end.
Network infrastructure spending is expected to be flat, but thanks to the rise of cloud services over the last few years, 2015 will mark the year that OpEx overtakes CapEx and never looks back. Even Deutsche Bank is eyeing this trend, as both carrier and enterprise IT is looking to cloud, SaaS, subscriptions and service contracts will make up the majority of spending in the year ahead.
Expect small cells and software to dominate network build out to handle need for mobile capacity.
Flat macro-cellular spending means the shift is going to be on small cell build-outs and services rather than the traditional macro-focused infrastructure spending we’ve seen in the past. Carriers will be looking for ways to enhance coverage in high-density areas using small cell networks. Expect to see in-building coverage and capacity to be the new battleground for mobile carriers by years end.
BYOD and DIY mobile in the enterprise is properly diagnosed.
Businesses realize that BYOD is a misdiagnosis of a larger problem when trying to solve in-building mobility issues and security concerns. Originally trumpeted as a smart fiscal move, CIOs and CFOs begin to realize that without the relationships and economies of scale, enterprises begin to see its employees are treated like regular consumers and this is a disadvantage to the enterprise. CIOs realize that corporate IT are security savvy, but not mobility experts and lean on mobile operators to fix mobility problems. For enterprises, Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) devices with secure application containers becomes the preferred methods to deal with mobility, security and cost-containment by corporate IT, CIOs and professionals alike.
Connected Devices, Peripherals and Smart Buildings become a strong trend in the Enterprise.
The expected increase in wearable and connected devices, due in part by significantly lower prices as companies fight for adoption, will add a significant strain on the already-strained enterprise Wi-Fi networks, creating opportunities for 3G/4G in-building mobility solutions and services from mobile operators and computing partners. Within the next 2 years, wireless and mobile traffic demands inside the enterprise will double. This will mean IT departments will need help to better cope with dynamic capacity demands while focusing on security. Simply banning non-essential devices is not a move that works as early adopters always find work-around methods. Rather, the savvy enterprise IT team will look for ways to prioritize application usage or and cloud-source a large majority of network functions.
Expect network vendor consolidation in unexpected places.
Expect fixed-mobile consolidation to continue. Look for Nokia to expand by acquiring a core routing company, Amdocs to expand beyond software and billing services by acquiring a mobile hardware company, and finally we will see Oracle’s new management take the further into mobile by buying a hardware company.
The Silicon Valley big surprise in 2015? A Space Odyssey.
Google acquires a space company to compete with SpaceX and Virgin Galactic for space travel and exploration. Will passengers receive complimentary Google Glass devices?
Beyond 2015: Gigabit Consumption becomes the norm.
One hundred-Gigabit mobile family usage plans and Ethernet-to-the-home to become the norm. By end of 2015, individual usage will start to reach 2 Gb on average and 3-5 Gb for the top 10%. By 2018, when you hear 100 Gig plans pricing plans, you won’t blink an eye.
Ethernet-to-the-home (ETTH) will be favored over fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) in major metropolitan areas.
ETTH not only addressed the growing bandwidth demands of the consumer, but it better favors business deployments making it a more cost-effective may to bring a big pipe to over 75% of highly populated areas. This broad coverage translates to around 10% of all deployment areas giving carriers a one-two punch on both consumer and enterprise deployments.
Beyond 2015: Consumers and businesses drive demand for soft-SIM IP phones.
Apple SIM is just the tip of the iceberg for both consumer and business mobile customers looking for flexibility in selecting mobile service provider based on best service, costs, location (city or country) or handset. Carriers and OEMs that successfully meet the demands of the customer will succeed the most, but this also provides opportunities for innovative developers looking to work into the telecom marketplace.
Beyond 2015: 5G is defined by service level by 2018.
Unlike the previous mobile telephony generations that were defined by technology, 5G officially is defined by service levels. Expect 5G to not be about the airlink or access method, speed or spectrum, rather it will be about service level and quality of service.
Ronny Haraldsvik is SVP/CMO of SpiderCloud Wireless and an industry veteran for more than 25 years.