Virtually every industry has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the telecoms sector no different. Yet analyst firm Analysys Mason argues telecoms will return to a modest growth in 2021, led by IoT, 5G and edge opportunities.
In its yearly predictions, Analysys Mason said industry revenue fell by 2.7% ($4.3 billion) in 2020. While noting total revenue will grow 1% on this year’s figures, the analyst firm warned that 2019 levels will not be exceeded until 2023.
Various developments will take place in the coming 12 months, with the vendor landscape being particularly disrupted. Some will be continuations of current themes. The acquisitions by Microsoft of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, as reported earlier this year by sister publication CloudTech, show the increased demand for edge computing – and crucially, the role operators can play within that. Analysys Mason said cloud vendors will acquire more telecoms-specific capabilities going forward.
For 5G, the signals were mixed. An opportunity lies in the enterprise side, with the analysts noting offers built on 5G capabilities were still rare. 2021 will see more 5G products for enterprises launched. On the consumer front, Analysys Mason does not expect ‘any meaningful ARPU increase’ next year.
Operators will also look further afield to IoT, the predictions argue. As a blog post put it last year, disruptive IoT MVNOs – such as EMnify and Twilio – and their ‘differentiated technological approach to delivering IoT connectivity will become more important as the high-volume, low-ARPC LPWA (low power wide area network) market develops.’ Analysys Mason says ‘at least one major operator’ will respond in 2021 by acquiring such a vendor.
In terms of Covid-19 accelerating trends, opportunities will be available to operators in areas where cloud and connectivity intersect, such as cloud gaming, healthcare, education and business cloud services. Edge will again come to the fore, with operators providing edge cloud capabilities for cloud gaming services.
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