ICT Visionaries – Part 3

By ISE Staff

Read what our 6 telecom leaders have to say about fiber deployments for 5G, COVID-19 network challenges, and ways to help your team pivot during unprecedented times.

ISE offered the Visionaries several topics for discussion, and asked each of them to address 3 of the topics.

Topic: Pivot for Meaning

The Big Pivot is a term that describes how all businesses, both big and small, must learn to adapt and thrive amid many unknowns. Today, pivoting also connotes more than that: it also means adapting your business purpose to serve others.

Question: How is your company and team pivoting with purpose in this unprecedented environment? Please share an example.

Topic: Fiber and 5G

Post COVID-19, the 5G Infrastructure market is estimated to grow from $12.6 billion in 2020 and projected to reach $44.9 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 28.97%. The projection for 2025 is estimated to be down by 22.79% as compared to pre-COVID-19 estimation.

Question: While 5G is being slowed by COVID-19, there is still the need for 5G infrastructure preparation. What are your teams doing to adopt innovative deployment approaches for FTTx and next-gen wireless networks?

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200424005429/en/COVID-19s-Impact-5G-Infrastructure-Market-Communication-Infrastructure

Topic: In-Home Network Upgrades and Troubleshooting

Today, only 7% of civilian workers in the U.S., or roughly 9.8 million of the nation’s approximately 140 million civilian workers, have access to “flexible workplace” benefits, or telework, according to the 2019 National Compensation Survey (NCS) (https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/) from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those workers who have access to it are largely managers, other white-collar professionals and the highly paid. (“Civilian workers” refers to private industry workers and state and local government workers combined.).

Remote work will continue to drive demand for higher symmetrical connectivity speeds and improved IP video services. However, the demand could also strain the system and lead to negative brand perception issues if reality doesn’t meet expectations.

Question: Talk about in-home upgrades and troubleshooting strategies providers can use to increase home network speeds, reduce latency and decrease packet drops in the COVID-19 environment. Share new things your company is doing in this area, or what you think could be improved so other companies can learn from yours.

Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/20/before-the-coronavirus-telework-was-an-optional-benefit-mostly-for-the-affluent-few/

Topic: Cost-Cutting

As more businesses enable remote work, and consumers switch to unlimited plans, telcos have an opportunity: if they can support remote work while giving consumers a positive experience throughout the crisis, their brand perception is improved.

Still, telcos face financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic. So, they must plan accordingly. In the long term, challenges include cost-cutting, as commodity services likely become cheaper.

Question: What does this mean for you and your teams?

Topic: Internet Traffic Levels

Internet aggregate traffic volumes have stayed above 25% since COVID-19 lockdowns started, according to a study done by Nokia. (See Figure 1.) This reflects ongoing network use throughout the day — during both weekdays and on weekends.Courtesy of Nokia.

Figure 1. Courtesy of Nokia.

Question: Given this, share your thoughts about how network service providers should prepare for the post-COVID-19 future. Will Internet traffic return to normal levels or will this new aggregate traffic pattern (shown in Figure 1), be permanent?

Source: www.nokia.com

Topic: Rethinking CapEx

Please read the comments below from the report, Telecoms Operators Rethink Their Next Two Years, by Rafael Asensio and Maarten de Wit, analysts from Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm.

“In a recessionary environment, conservative cash management is imperative. In the capital-intensive industry that telecom is, this means at least reconsidering how much CapEx will be deployed in the next couple of years and what for.
    If used discretionarily, capital spending can be used to shield operating cash flow. In a typical operator, a reduction of four to eight percent in CapEx is needed to offset a one-percent revenue hit by itself. While it would be ill advised to rely only on investment cuts, most operators are considering reductions following lowered expectations of return on investment (ROI). Several large telcos are assessing downward adjustments of two to four percentage points in CapEx/revenue during the downturn, although these will vary greatly among markets.
     CapEx, however, is discretionary only to a limited extent, given that operators compete against each other by investing to create network parity or advantage. Thus, each needs to assess different paths to rationalize investments. In markets with high fiber penetration, slowing down 5G will be an option where it does not degrade mobile competitiveness. In areas with low competitive pressure in fixed lines, slowing down fiber might be an option. Other ideas are on the table too, like co-investing with financial sponsors, infrastructure players, or competitors; pushing for relaxed coverage obligations or delayed spectrum auctions; and pruning CapEx not essential for revenue competitiveness.”

Source: https://www.oliverwyman.com/our-expertise/insights/2020/jun/Telecom-Operators-Rethink-Their-Next-Two-Years.html

Question: Share your thoughts about the above. How is your company addressing this challenge, or how do you expect it to impact your company?

Topic: The Ultimate Takeaway

Question: What have you learned the most as a professional during this unprecedented time related to COVID-19 and your role?

Learn their network know-how in the final piece to our 3-part series.

Originally published on isemag.com October 1, 2020