What trends are you noticing developing in the industry at the moment?
The industry is transforming rapidly, at a pace that seems to continually accelerate, without an end in sight. The number of technologies being adapted are also quickly increasing. For example, recent months have seen an upswing in the number of blockchain proposals, applications for mission-critical IoT or disruptive communication offerings from OTTs. This is in turn pushing forward the development and/or improvement of technologies such as IoT traffic differentiation or security solutions. This is also making it necessary for telcos to look internally and find ways to innovate faster while at the same time reduce costs. Another interesting trend is capacity-on-demand services, which will become important as capacity and quality requirements grow exponentially.
What are the key challenges facing carriers today?
The key challenges will be to keep ahead of new, potentially disruptive advancements with innovative solutions while managing cost pressure. We must focus on innovation, both internally and externally. Our exceptional IPX platform, for example, is an enabler of cutting-edge solutions, such as our newly launched Regional Packet Gateway. It provides the higher throughput and lower latency needed by future technologies such as real-time IoT. In the IoT area, we are also developing customized offerings and looking into traffic segmentation. In addition, we are continually searching for strong partners to more quickly bring innovations to the marketplace. Internally, we are implementing pioneering technologies to optimize our processes, such as through the use of blockchain for contracting processes, along with digitalization, big data and AI. This will allow smoother and faster delivery and time to market, make us more agile and reduce costs for us as well as our clients.
How big a role will digitalization play in shaping the business models of the future?
Digitalization is an extremely important topic, because it encompasses all areas of society. In fact, there is no sustainable business model in our industry without it. At Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, we are currently transforming our entire business via digitalization. With this streamlined, central overview of all processes, we will gain quicker insights and more easily identify areas of potential growth or adapt our products to the changing needs of our clients. It will also make ordering, delivery and management faster for all involved, and as mentioned above, reduce effort and therefore costs, while ensuring best customer quality and experience.
How much of a game changer will 5G be for carriers?
5G will bring many new services and applications across many domains. Deutsche Telekom has identified the manufacturing industry in particular as a key beneficiary of 5G. Big and mid-sized manufacturers are already re-designing their production and exploring ways to improve the flexibility and efficiency of future smart factories. Simultaneously, customer interest is high to test new connectivity-based solutions for plug-and-play and mobility. This presents a huge opportunity for carriers to address this emerging market with 4G/5G cellular solutions that can be customized to fit requirements. But competition will be intense. We are actively engaged with, for example, campus network trials to develop new application MVPs. And recently, DT launched its first commercial campus network product solution that combines public and private connectivity based on LTE – evolving to 5G. Long term, fully automated, end-to-end network slicing is a key innovation in a 5G technology that can create new business opportunities.
How can carriers better monetize their services in the 5G landscape?
Deutsche Telekom is really playing a leading role to advance the development of the 5G standard. As I said before, the company is currently very active in rolling out 5G across Germany. At the moment, no one knows exactly what use cases 5G will bring in the future. However, having our network in place is the first step to being able to monetize upcoming services in the 5G landscape. The speeds and low latency of 5G will certainly bring about many new applications while also making some existing technologies more widely available – such as augmented reality, virtual reality, gaming or IoT needing real-time capabilities. I would say that the months and years ahead will see increasing cooperation and collaboration between telcos, content providers, mobile operators – the entire communications industry. Because we will need each other to deliver services to consumers – and effectively monetize those services.