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Woman in web3, Maria Lema shares her top predictions for future of telcos in 2023

Maria Lema Weaver Labs
Image credits: Maria Lema/ Linkedin

The global telecom services market size was valued at $1,657.7B in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4% until 2028.

Experts in the telecoms industry foresee that the innovations in the segment will be driven by developments such as telco and hyperscale convergence, the introduction of 5G standalone, the wider adoption of open RAN, and new applications and services designed for the network edge.

When it comes to web3, one way that telecommunications and web3 could intersect is through the use of decentralised communication networks built on top of blockchain technology. These networks could potentially offer more secure and private communication options for users, as well as new ways for telecom companies to operate and monetise their services.

Another potential area of overlap is in the use of blockchain-based smart contracts to automate and streamline processes in the telecom industry. Overall, the intersection of telecom and web3 has the potential to bring about significant changes in the way that communication and related services are provided and consumed.

As we have stepped into 2023, there are many technologies and trends that are emerging to redefine various industries this year. Innovations in the field of telecoms and IT will continue to expand the envelope of connectivity and digital transformation across different verticals.

UK-based Weaver Labs develops software and constructs networks for the telecoms industry for a while. It is a blockchain-software company building in the telecoms sector. It aims to make networks more accessible by making the supply chain more diverse and speeding up the process of connection adoption.

Co-founder Maria Lema was leading King’s College London’s 5G Tactile Internet Lab when she met her co-founders, who introduced her to the concept of blockchain and Web3. With the advent of this year, she decided to share her top telecom predictions for 2023 only on Tech Funding News. Let’s get started!

As 5G becomes more stable, it’s time for 6G!

In the UK, specifically, we will still see a lot of push from the industry into OpenRAN, particularly with the newly announced funding from DCMS as well as the big vendors jumping in. Alongside this, as 5G becomes more stable, we expect there to be more discussion around shaping the requirements of 6G. While 2022 was a good year for private networks, mainly through solidifying use cases, 2023 will continue to see growth in private networks and neutral host deployments, for indoor coverage and small cell installations using street furniture to densify cellular coverage. In light of this, there will likely be more debate around business models and how to address the rise in neutral hosting.

Uninterrupted delivery = diversification

The biggest challenge facing the telco industry in 2022 has been supply chain shortages, in part due to disruptions facilitated by the war in Ukraine, which has led to a rise in manufacturing costs, but also as a consequence of China’s Covid-19 lockdowns. The stringent measures in addition to ongoing trade disputes, resulted in the suspension of major part suppliers, device makers, and assemblers across the nation, in turn generating huge supply chain strains on a global scale. Supply chain shortages make it increasingly difficult for service providers to deliver on their promises, with knock-on effects across the technology sector. Ensuring uninterrupted delivery can be achieved through diversification and removing an overreliance on a single provider.

Another challenge that will become more apparent in 2023 is the need for more systems integration than expected. Given the number of software suppliers, for example, in the context of Open RAN, it will be essential for the industry to address integration and automation on a greater scale, in a move towards fully softwarised platforms.

Cybersecurity important for telcos

Telco systems integration has become a key piece of the puzzle in connecting networks and making connectivity more accessible to consumers. This year has also been a significant learning curve in cybersecurity for the telecoms industry. Telcos have taken a more proactive approach to cybersecurity and woken up to the realisation that integrating cybersecurity applications as avenues of differentiation to capture more enterprise market value.

More suitable access to digital infrastructure

The industry should look more into shared infrastructure models, and “as a service” models that target an agile approach to infrastructure, instead of over-building current networks. Telcos can also do more to push the rollout of 5G services as this presents many transformational possibilities, from increasing efficiency and productivity at traffic junctions, to optimising manufacturing processes, and providing socio-economically poorer communities a chance to be digitally included. Investing in digital infrastructure should be a priority moving forward.

Better access to digital infrastructure will allow communities to utilise these applications productively to make the potential economic, environmental, and societal benefits a reality.

Infrastructure resilience and outreach

With the rise and establishment of Neutral Hosting and Private Networks we see more and more infrastructure as a service model being needed. There’s a real potential to change the way telcos build networks to deliver connectivity. It’s clear that software platforms and open architectures will become more vital in the year ahead in terms of providing agile solutions which will help overcome the network supply and demand imbalance. We’ll see a lot more Communication Service Providers demanding infrastructure as a service in 2023.

Healthy debates are in!

It’s definitely a healthy debate to have, and it’s exciting to see what comes out of the consultation. If there’s one thing we have learned from public consultations in the UK it’s that it opens up a number of views and has the potential to foster change in telecom policy.

Telcos reshaping tech in 2023

It’s hard to pinpoint how the telecoms sector will shape tech in 2023. One thing MNOs and Vendors have been fixating on for years has been waiting for standard implementation and then moving on to implementation, inhibiting them from meeting their potential in influencing innovation. The industry could be more agile in adopting a combination of software components that solve existing problems, without the need to always push on to the standards first, a great example of this is Twilio and how with a software innovation they could revolutionise the SMS industry – the tech sector is much more agile in this case. Companies such as Rakuten, AWS are largely thinking in software and not in standard implementations, which are getting ahead of the opportunity. There is of course, a risk of failing, but the risk is lower than making the whole industry agree on something.

More diversity

Teclos across the board should work closer with Universities to attract and integrate diverse talent, particularly when it comes to encouraging more women to join the industry. Students and respectives graduates need to be made aware of the key opportunities the sector holds.

A lot of Web3

In the Web3 context, we will see a lot of new projects focusing on real use cases, and also a lot of applications outside of DeFi. As a result, we will start to see the real implementations of Blockchain come alive in a variety of sectors, we are of course pushing from the telecom sector

Women in telcos

We’re still early in this process, but women will have to continue to work together, from entry-level roles to the C-Suite, to find good role models and also do more to help make themselves heard.

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