As we dive into 2017, one thing is certain: Consumers will
undoubtedly benefit from greater network
convergence. While this subject most likely didn’t make most people’s New
Year’s resolutions or annual bucket lists, consumer behavior and digital usage are
already pushing network operators and managers to enhance network
infrastructure to provide more reliable and efficient digital services. Consumers
expect quick and seamless connections so they can access the information they
need wherever and whenever they need it to accomplish the things that matter
most to them; therefore, leading to the necessity of network convergence.
Throughout this year, our blog series will highlight current
events, real-world examples of network convergence, and industry trends demonstrating
why consumer habits will drive more integrated and efficient networks. The topics
below are just a few of the reasons network convergence will continue to be an
important topic for operators.
The Expanding Internet
The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution will most certainly
influence the need for more network convergence. As consumers continue to integrate
their homes, vehicles, offices, etc., they expect to access that information from
anywhere. This Samsung
refrigerator commercial provides a perfect example of how common items are
being used to transform how people live and stay connected.
Integration of Digital Services
Digital service providers are also looking to integrate
their services with other digital applications in order to provide an overall
experience for their consumers. As a result, consumers will expect access to multiple
services during the same digital interaction. Uber has been on the leading edge
of this trend through integrating services in an “Uber
Feed,” which currently includes UberEats, Yelp, Snapchat, WeChat and
Foursquare. Their vision has expanded from transportation services to an
integrated approach of knowing what their customers want before their customers
even realize it. This type of service will depend on highly-integrated and
efficient network communication infrastructures.
The Virtualization of Data
Network virtualization is another area that, with the
increased use of cloud-based applications, is rapidly growing and is leading to
the need for more convergence. As consumers need more space to store their ever-growing
data, they now have access to multiple options that offer affordable, secure
virtual spaces to house and analyze their information. Major companies like Amazon
Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are all trying to meet this
need and will be looking to enhance their data center infrastructures to keep
up with demand.
Content is King
Now, more than ever before, consumers have come to expect instant
access to content via social media, streaming platforms and ecommerce sites.
Quality content can engage consumers, increase web traffic and encourage
purchasing decisions. Operators who have combined wireless and wireline network
services are now looking to acquire content companies, as AT&T has
by acquiring Time Warner. Furthermore, content providers are also
interested in merging with network providers so they will own both the content
and the means to deliver it. Network convergence will be imperative to
combining these services and efficiently bringing content to consumers.
The Transition to 5G
As consumers pursue faster mobile speeds and increased
capabilities on multiple devices, the 5G network will become imperative for
everyday communications. Also known as a Network of Networks, 5G inherently
depends on multiple networks converging to create an overall communications
infrastructure. With an estimated 20
billion “things” added to the IoT by 2020—and speeds of 10 Gbps per
subscriber—consumers will most certainly expect to take advantage of the
digital benefits offered by 5G services.
There are many other consumer
and digital changes that will influence the need for more network convergence. What
other network convergence topics do you think will be important in 2017 and beyond?