Disruption: challenges and opportunities for the telco industry
The Australian telecommunications market is continuing to see consolidation, as traditional services are being further commoditised and digital media companies are offering new communication services, free or at significantly lower cost. Thanks to new video streaming services such as Netflix, and an increased use of mobile broadband for a range of applications, people’s use of broadband has increased; however a squeeze on margins of services such as broadband access doesn’t mean that such increased usage of telecommunications also accounts for any significant increases in industry revenues.
The industry will still need to further transform itself in order to be able to handle the dynamics of the market, which include lower margins, commoditisation, new technologies and competition from outside the traditional market. The new billion dollar companies in the digital media are light on assets and light on staff; and their business models are based on transactions facilitated by their software-based services and done in an automated way by the users of their assets, using algorithms, big data, cloud computing and datacentres.
There are plenty of new opportunities in the market. Now that the quality of broadband access is improving – albeit still rather slowly – new markets are opening up in healthcare, education, government services, smart grids, smart cities, connected homes, wearable technologies, IoT and M2M – the list goes on. Telecommunications companies should take a leadership role in these developments but so far the key developments in these areas come from other organisations. Telstra is an exception here, with the leadership role it plays in the development of the e-health market in Australia.
For the time being, however, cost-cutting, consolidation and mergers will continue to dominate the telco industry. At the same time an ongoing barrage of innovations, new technologies, new apps and new services will shape the telecoms market. It is an extremely dynamic market with lots of twists and turns, set to continue into 2016 and beyond.
Other key topics that are discussed in this report include
National Broadband Network - Developments and Analyses 2015 By mid-2015 over a million premises were able to connect to the NBN – so far most of them have access to the original NBN, three-quarters have access to FttH, the remainder to wireless and satellite networks. The revised rollout of the so-called multi-mix technology (DSL and HFC) will start in earnest in 2016.There still is no long-term plan for when and how to upgrade from the older technologies to proper FttH; however the Opposition has indicated that if it wins the next election it will revive the FttH plan, but will take into account the circumstances that exist at that time.
M2M and The Internet of Things
With the NBN and LTE now well and truly underway it is important to look at what will be the real value of this new infrastructure.
This ‘Internet of Things’ (M2M, Pervasive Internet and Industrial Internet) is going to be a real game-changer. It will transform every single sector of society and the economy and it will be out of this environment that new businesses – and indeed new industries – will be born. This is one of the reasons so many overseas ICT companies are increasing their presence in Australia. The LTE will take a leadership role in the development of M2M but the NBN is also an ideal test-bed for such developments. A great deal of attention is being paid to cloud computing and the NBN can be viewed as one gigantic cloud.
The number of connected M2M devices will grow to somewhere between 25 million and 50 million by 2020.
BuddeComm describes ‘big data’ as looking at intelligent outcomes that can be achieved from data collaboration.The most critical issue here is strategic management, rather than technology. However the fact that big data has become a vital tool in competition is forcing many companies to transform their organisations from a company-centric approach to a customer-centric one.
Connected information management, however, can go much further. There are many other players involved in the broader ecosystem, and by sharing and combining relevant data sets and then analysing those large data sets we can find new correlations that can be used to spot business trends, assess customer behaviour, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on.
Smart Cities, Smart Infrastructure
The development of smart cities and indeed smart countries require vision and recognition of the fact that many of today’s social, economic and sustainability problems can only be solved with the assistance of ICT. In many situations the ubiqueness, affordability, capacity, robustness, security and quality necessary for this calls for fibre optic and high-speed wireless infrastructures. This need will increase dramatically over the next 5 to 10 years as industries and whole sectors (healthcare, energy, transport, water) carry out the process of transforming themselves in order to much better address the challenges ahead.
Cyber Crime, Privacy and Copyright issues
With the internet having become critical national and international infrastructure a whole range of privacy and issues have come to the fore in relation to the digital economy and the digital society.
Some of these issues are in relation to national and international security and tens of billions are spent by governments using the internet as a surveillance tool. This has led to a frenzy of activity by governments to, on the one hand, protect their sovereignty and, on the other, use the internet for their own security activities.
Separate to this are the commercial issues. With internet services becoming pervasive it can be argued, rightly or wrongly, that there are some services that people simply have to have. This is exploited by the companies involved, with requests for a range of highly private data in exchange for the free use of these applications and services.