The death of the telecoms carrier

All the technological change in the telecoms industry is pointing towards a more final and ultimate change, the death of the old “telco” carrier model we have known for the past few decades.

We have known it is coming but the last vestiges will be swept away in 2017. All telcos will finally abandon “telco” or “telecoms carrier” on their LinkedIn profiles, to be replaced by a variety of alternatives, the main one being “technology company.” Even “operator” will be an old word.

The old model has been swamped, that has been well documented, but in 2017 the catalysts for change will gain even more momentum. Mainstream telecoms carriers will finally start to mature from the stasis which has gripped them in the last few years, as technologies such as IoT, LTE and the momentum towards 5G. The cloud and all its data implications added to acceleration in mobile comprise the enabling ingredients to a year which will be the end of the current chapter in the story of disruption.
A key to all this will be that investments in BSS systems will begin to deliver on their promises. BSS might seem an unglamorous part of the equation, but it is critical as an enabler for the business, for customer experience, for process efficiency and the interface with OSS systems. Part of the issue for operators has been that BSS and OSS have been out of alignment, impeding progress. Prediction for 2017: this situation will improve and some of the results will be significant.

Lachlan Colquhoun in TelecomAsia.

Interesting concept from Lachlan above. I’m not sure that I’d say 2017 is the year that all telcos will finally abandon the telco business model, purely because the comms industry comprises so many different business models that constantly evolving, but I understand the point he’s making.

In some ways, the comms industry (in concert with the Internet) has been the ultimate disruptor, facilitating the digital revolution that has impacted (and continues to impact) every other industry. To do so, it has had to continually pivot to meet the myriad of changes required by or requested by an enormous subscriber base of customers.

Lachlan is also right in saying that OSS and BSS have been impeding progress. On one hand, they are absolutely essential for scale and efficiency and making serious contributions, but on the other hand their complexity does constrain their owners from the even faster pivots they’ll need to make into the future. The challenge is in the chess-board analogy. If Lachlan’s prediction for 2017 (ie that the situation will improve and some of the results will be significant) is to come true, this is the year we have to figure out how to remove as many strings and pulleys from our chess pieces.

I hope he’s right. The question for me is what architecture, tool and/or technique will be instrumental in cutting these cords? Is it the Minimum Viable Telco (and OSS) movement?

What do you think will be the instigator of change in 2017?

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