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Looking ahead in 2021: what will be the telecom tech trends

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Think back with us to the first couple of months of 2020. What plans we had! The start of a new decade…and how wrong we were on nearly every count, so how wise is it for us to look ahead to 2021 with any degree of certainty? It’s maybe a debatable point, but at least in our own field of Telecoms there are some things that have been gestating for some time and will inevitably come to life-changing fruition in the next months. The advance of technology never rests, it’s just that some technology never sees the light of day until something happens to bring it blinking into the light.

5G is one of those. If there’s one thing that working remotely or from home has shown us it is that Broadband hasn’t kept up with need. We’ve been kept busy during these lockdown months helping our customers not just to keep connected but to have business capable broadband in their homes.

This time last year iffy broadband was an inconvenience, now it can be a disaster. The advent of 5G may have been met with a certain level of disinterest and a number of conspiracy theories about its potential danger but we think we’ll see a far greater level of acceptance; especially when it’s understood that using a SIM card as a fixed wireless access to a cell tower is considerably easier than digging up roads to install fibre into your neighbourhood. And, of course, 5G gives quantum levels of improvement in speeds over 4G…just wait until you try it, you won’t want anything else.

Whilst looking at trends it makes sense to consider something we’ve pondered in the past. Is working from home with us to stay? Our own answer is a definite, yes! Maybe not to lockdown levels but it’s certain that anyone who can successfully work from home will want to continue to do so. At what point, then, does the Government have to become involved to incentivise national 5G coverage? It’s our prediction that Telecoms will become increasingly politicised, and not just because of the Huawei ban.

As much as working from home appears to be the future there’s an interesting development occurring with those businesses for whom having premises and on-site staff is vital, and it’s with these businesses we see another trend developing. Security, or the lack of it in the areas one would most expect it, is giving rise to situations where access to the Cloud is no longer trusted and servers are held on site, with external connectivity being curtailed. A private cloud, if you will. Effectively this is a polarised stand against the increased connectivity of the world outside, which leads us to our next trend…

Which is the splendidly named Internet of Things (IoT) meaning anything that connects to the internet. We first wrote about this four years ago but it’s time has come and it’s largely because 5G enables it to work as it should. Increasingly, though, it refers to internet connected objects that “talk” to each other. Cookers you can turn on from your smartphone, dog collars that tell you where Fido is, dolls that tell stories to your kids, all work through the internet. Covid has helped show how the IoT can meet our current needs by, for instance, enabling high levels of data connectivity in Nightingale Hospitals. 2021 will see us integrating more IoT devices into our every day.

Just one more, and it may be another new term: Edge Computing. We see this growing exponentially and, as such, it will drive internet connectivity towards 5G. Imagine a self-driving car, now can you imagine what would happen if there’s a delay in it receiving an instruction from its remotely situated server? Exactly. Edge computing demands real time data transference, and this requires instant connectivity with no lag. It’s extraordinary to think that in just a few years’ time we’ll be taking all these things for granted.

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