YOU ARE AT:Internet of Things (IoT)2015 Predictions: Location, NFV, IoT, video set to change mobile in 2015

2015 Predictions: Location, NFV, IoT, video set to change mobile in 2015

Editor’s Note: With 2015 now upon us, RCR Wireless News has gathered predictions from leading industry analysts and executives on what they expect to see in the new year.

The end of the year always brings on new planning cycles for technology companies, and you try to align your plans with where you think the market will be next year. Some might think that this is akin to “gazing into a crystal ball,” but this is tech after all, so we’ll peer into a “silicon ball” to reveal the major tech trends for next year.

What do we think will drive 2015 for broadband networks around the world?

Location, location, location: Consumers are constantly bombarded with messages about which company has the best mobile network – the “can you hear me now?” ad campaign sticks in my mind as the most memorable. Every mobile operator insists it has the best network – some claim coverage, some claim speed, some claim reliability. At the end of the day, an operator has to deliver a good service to its subscribers wherever they are. The solutions that help carriers understand where their subscribers are, how their device is experiencing their mobile network and how the applications and content the subscriber is consuming are performing, will determine the overall subscriber experience. And the companies that deliver the best end-to-end experience – including billing – will win the consumer war. And nothing impacts that experience more than where you are, and this will be the centerpiece for operators that win the war – understanding how to deliver the best experience wherever their subscribers go.

Virtualize me in real-time: Operators want to reduce costs and increase flexibility. Part of meeting the location challenge is being able to reallocate resources efficiently to handle spikes in network activity, manage whatever bandwidth is available, or even recognize new trends and offer bundles that meet subscribers’ pricing demands. If it takes months – or even years – to recognize these trends and deploy solutions, the operator is sunk. Network function virtualization can allow an operator to react in minutes or hours and keep subscribers happy. It also revolutionizes the business model for capital expenses and operating expenses, as proprietary hardware purchases can be reduced, not eliminated, in favor of NFV reference platforms. It also means that incumbent vendors do not have hardware lock-in, which encourages innovation and makes it easier for an operator to change solution providers. NFV is a technology that will have a huge impact on operators of all types in 2015. Some operators will go all in and deploy NFV extensively; some will use it to solve specific problems in small corners of their networks. Those that do harness NFV will gain a significant advantage over non-NFV operators, and we fully expect to have several operators announce major NFV deployments in 2015.

IoT me: The “Internet of Things” has a lot of definitions, but to us it means that a user will have many devices or applications that are connected to the Internet. In practical terms, it means that operators will see more devices on their network, and the “background noise” that exists on their networks will continue to grow. Background noise is the constant checking and updating of a subscribers status to some type of cloud service – whether Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, fitness tracker uploads, Apple Pay or Google Wallet transactions. It is clear that the number of active sessions on all networks is increasing, causing many operators to plan their growth around user sessions, and not always just raw traffic volumes. As more devices become directly and indirectly connected to the Internet in LTE-equipped cars, Wi-Fi hot spots that auto-connect, or through Bluetooth to a mobile device, the load on these networks will increase. Operators must ensure that they can offer attractive plans to power users who are always connected, and evolve pricing to acknowledge that the average user’s bandwidth consumption will continue to grow in 2015 due to the explosion of smart watches, fitness trackers and mobile pay offerings.

Video killed the broadcast star: Much like the first video on MTV (for those that are not up on music video trivia, that is “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles), streaming video is slowly killing the broadcast television star. Netflix and Hulu have proven to be viable alternatives and encourage users to cut the cord. Even HBO is planning to offer streaming-only services. Amazon.com (Fire Stick and Fire TV), Apple TV, the Roku stick and Google Chromecast offer solutions that start as low as $39, and can receive many different streaming feeds from the Internet or your computer. Broadband operators are fearful of streaming video because of the load generated – we are not even talking 4K video yet – but at the same time want users to buy higher bandwidth packages they’ll only need if they want to stream video. Video will continue to grow as a percentage of overall bandwidth, and an operator that can’t deliver a good experience for streaming video will quickly be minimized in the market.

There are a lot of other interesting trends we see developing in 2015, but these are some of the biggest. Do you have any you want to share? Share them with me on Twitter at @Cam_Cullen and we’ll compare who has the clearest silicon gazing ball.

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