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 of Things
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?