This year has been a busy one for the telecoms sector with a number of huge stories breaking. We look back at the 10 most read stories from this year.

5G the beginning of the end for telcos

Despite the inordinate amounts of hype surrounding 5G, many analysts are concerned that operators who fail to make a solid business plan for 5G risk signing their own death warrant. 
Analysts have argued that operators must make sure they get the most out of 5G, rather than just focussing on data bundle pricing and being swept away with the euphoria of superfast connectivity. 
For those operators who do identify the opportunities that will drive future growth, from content and services to data engineering and venture capitalism, 5G presents an unparalleled opportunity to establish significant market share and dominate the market for years to come.   
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AT&T in nonsense ‘5G’ launch
AT&T dug a rather inauspicious hole for themselves when they unveiled their latest ‘5G evolution’ service in April this year. 
Many people were unconvinced by AT&T’s use of the term ‘5G Evolution’, for its network which used carrier aggregation, 4×4 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), and 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM).
AT&T’s newly launched network did provide its customers with twice the downlink speed compared with a standard 4G network, but the decision to brand it as a 5G experience might well have backfired. 
"Our 5G Evolution in Austin gives our customers a taste of the future," claimed David Christopher, AT&T’s chief marketing officer.
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Rolling out 5G now would bankrupt a lot of operators
This story was the third highest read story of the year, as 5G stories dominated the podium positions in 2017.  
Phil Sheppard, director of network strategy at 3UK, said fundamental changes to the economics of deploying and operating mobile networks needed to be made if the industry was going to deliver on the promise of 5G.
According to Sheppard, one of the biggest issues stems from the huge cell densification effort required to meet capacity and coverage demand, particularly indoors.
"[It] is completely crazy at the moment to think you could actually do that," Sheppard said.
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BT cuts 4,000 jobs, CEO to take pay cut
It was a tough year for BT, as the network operator cut CEO Gavin Patterson’s annual pay packet, announced 4,000 redundancies, and lowered its financial outlook for the year. 
Patterson’s salary was cut to £1.3 million for the year to 31 March, down from £5.3 million in the previous year. Outgoing finance chief Tony Chanmugam also had his annual pay cut to £258,000 from £2.81 million.
BT also announced that Luis Alvarez, CEO of its troubled Global Services unit, will leave the company; he will be replaced by BT Americas president Bas Burger.
"This has been a challenging year for BT. We’ve faced headwinds in the UK public sector and international corporate markets and must learn from what we found in our Italian business. Openreach also received a fine from Ofcom after an investigation into historical Deemed Consent practices revealed it fell short of the high standards we expect," said Patterson, in a statement accompanying BT’s fourth quarter and full year financial results.
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SDN will bring doom for consumers and revenues for telcos
With demand for ultra high definition TV services set to soar in the coming years, operators should be preparing for a future with multiple 4K screens per household. As such, networks will need to be able to cope with the capacity demands this will entail, but will also need to think carefully about how they are going to monetise the service or risk losing fistfuls of cash to over the top (OTT) players. 
"SD access networks will allow for the network to be driven by other software applications," Kelly said. The next generation of network equipment will be able to react so quickly that the network can be application-aware, can adjust parameters based on flow and provide a richer user experience.
"The potential for the service providers then to work in conjunction with those app providers to open up new revenue streams and new business models is huge," said Ronan Kelly, CTO at Adtran.
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IoT will be a cash cow for carriers
As the Internet of Things gains traction across the world, it will open up an almost unlimited supply of opportunities for network operators to cash in, according to Huawei’s rotating CEO, Ken Hu. 
Telecoms operators will need to think creatively as they go in search of their next billion subscribers, which could well be bovine rather than human and could bring in sizeable revenue streams, according to Huawei.
In north-western China dairy farmers are using smart collar technology to track everything from the grazing habits of their herds to the specific body temperature of individual cows. In doing so they are dramatically increasing milk yields and raising profitability, Hu explained.
"Every cow can now generate an additional US$420 per year, that’s a 50% increase for the dairy farmers. But there is money for the carriers too. Every connected cow is a new subscriber," he said.
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Deutsche Telekom launches commercial NB-IOT service in Germany
Deutsche Telekom made the top 10 of the most read stories of 2017 list when they launched their commercial NB-IoT service in Germany. 
The entry-level package costs €199 and includes a six-month activation of up to 25 SIM cards, each with 500 KB of data. A private APN and IPsec key encryption is available as an optional add-on. The second tariff costs €299, and comes with all of the above, plus access to Deutsche Telekom’s Cloud of Things platform for device and data management.
"Narrowband IoT enables ambitious new business models, huge scale and a secure operating environment, which is exactly what our small and medium enterprise customers are looking for today as they increasingly move their business operations online," said Hagen Rickmann, head of Deutsche Telekom’s business customer division.
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World Communication Awards winners
The World Communication Awards showcased the cream of international talent from the global telecoms industry, at a glittering reception held in London in November.  
Celebrating innovation and achievement across 24 categories, the World Communication Awards 2017 received a huge number of entries, resulting in an impressive shortlist of finalists.
Click here for a full list of the winne.
MWC 2017: Deutsche Telekom CEO predicts end of smartphone 
Deutsche Telekom’s CEO hit the headlines in February when he predicted the end of the smartphone. 
He made his prediction as he revealed that the German incumbent is collaborating with optics specialist Carl Zeiss on augmented reality glasses.
Höttges modelled a concept version of them during a press conference at Mobile World Congress. They are designed to stream information from a smartphone and display it on the lenses. Future versions will connect to mobile networks and stream information directly from the cloud, rather than rely on a smartphone as an intermediary, Höttges predicted.
"I believe these glasses will replace the smartphone," he said.
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US fines ZTE $1.2 billion for shipping kit to Iran and N Korea
Chinese kit maker ZTE was slapped with a record-breaking penalty for ‘systemically misleading’ authorities.
The company was fined $1.19 billion (€1.13 billion) by the U.S. government for illegally shipping network equipment to Iran and North Korea.
The Chinese kit maker was also found to have lied to investigators and destroyed evidence of its misdeeds in order to cover its tracks.
As part of a settlement with U.S. authorities, ZTE has agreed to active audit and compliance requirements designed to prevent and detect future violations. If ZTE steps out of line, a seven-year ban on exports of ZTE products containing U.S.-made technology will be triggered.
"Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished – they will suffer the harshest of consequences," said commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, in a statement.
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