This article first appeared in RCR Wireless.
Are we at the beginning of a more integrated connectivity market?
Over the past year, 5G rollout has been a major priority for communications service providers worldwide. However, something else is making waves simultaneously – satellite broadband. With the ability to reach more users than ever, these networks may play a critical role in completely changing the market.
Companies such as SpaceX, NASA, Amazon and OneWeb are already investing billions to launch global, low earth orbit satellite capable of delivering broadband speeds. And when they’re coupled with other network options like 5G, in-home hotspots provided by businesses, neighborhood WiFi and low-bandwidth networks, there’s an opportunity to explore.
A business model disruption
The benefit here is creating a society where consumers can automatically get the best network experience for any given task and where connectivity providers – existing and new – collaborate to make this a reality. If we can resolve complexities within these systems, we can unlock our future connected society’s true potential.
As experiences become more demanding of quality of service – low latency, high bandwidth, mobility at high speeds – I believe consumers will want to effortlessly access the internet through the best option available based on where they are, what application they are using and what quality of service they need.
This could lead to a society where connectivity becomes less of a utility purchased from a service provider, and more a functionality that is embedded in every application or every device. For instance, we could see App Store-like business models that allow consumers to purchase an app and the right network to run it.
Going at it alone will no longer be an option
At first look, this may seem like a threat to connectivity providers, but it will allow them to make money on the delivered experience and share in the forecasted $1T of new digital services revenue. There are other long-term benefits as well.
Today, many connectivity providers are in a position where building their networks is becoming more costly than what they’ll get in return. However, by expanding their reach through partnerships, they’ll be able to reach more customers at a lower cost and deliver services that require connectivity beyond the coverage of their own network. With intelligent software that lets them allocate network capacity and resources, they can also deliver better service and experiences.
This also gives connectivity providers the ability to act as aggregators for these different networks. Managing a seamless end-to-end customer experience will be a vital piece of the puzzle when coming to or leaving a network.
Preparing for the future
As ecosystems become more complex, AI will be needed to automate processes with attention to continuous learning, handoff, development, and governance across every network aspect. By preparing for these areas now, connectivity providers will be ready for the future and can set up strategies for disruptive times.
There’s still a lot to sort out before this becomes a reality. However, the future is where people and machines are connected seamlessly by the network that serves them best – wherever they are and whatever they are trying to do. Automation and intelligence become the essential layer to deliver the seamless experience across an ecosystem of many networks, clouds, and security. Although this may add a complex layer to solve, I believe the industry can achieve more together than independently.