What does this year hold for the telecoms industry? Crissi Williams, CEO, and Tim Wright, technology director of the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals (ITP) look at the key trends

Whilst there will, no doubt, be surprises on the business front – with mergers, acquisitions, and regulatory initiatives – we will also continue to be surprised and excited by the innovation in the applications and over-the-top providers space.  It would be unwise to make specific predictions in such cases.  However, underpinning much of this are the big technology trends already well underway.

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented reality
Artificial intelligence, particularly in the context of image recognition and speech recognition will continue to get more accurate and reliable and will find their way into more and more smartphone applications. Augmented reality is coming of age and is no longer just a novelty.  It will be most evident in new applications for smartphones.  
Internet of Things
The numbers of connected devices will continue to rise, especially in and around the home with home automation.  Whilst some of these may be regarded as novelties, we will start to see a solid base of useful devices and applications.  This trend will exacerbate security fears.
Security concerns with smartphones may reign back the trend towards ‘bring-you-own-device’. Security of networks will draw increasingly on artificial intelligence and machine learning to augment the techniques already at operators’ disposal.  
Software defined networking (SDN) 
Operators will continue to investigate and invest in the potential of SDN to configure their transport networks.  The need to co-exist with traditional networks will tend to deter widespread exploitation of SDN although the trend will continue.  SDN will find application in enterprise networks.
On-line entertainment
The trend away from traditional broadcast TV will continue given the convenience of on-demand and catch-up.  Sports and other live events will continue to be a big revenue earner but will be consumed on-demand.  This will drive consumer demand for ubiquitous and reliable broadband access UK-wide.  Increasingly, on-line entertainment will be consumed on mobile devices particularly for the younger generation.
Smartphone innovation will continue to drive upgrades and the amount of time users spend on their devices.  The social impacts of such usage, particularly with younger people, will be of increasing concern but with no real resolution.  
Internet access 
The trend towards internet access via mobile networks, especially amongst the younger, more mobile population will continue.  This will drive capacity expansion of mobile networks and lead to more innovative data pricing packages. Internet access demanded by increasing numbers of devices via a proliferation of unmanaged WiFi end points will lead to increasing interference.