The Wholesale telecoms industry in the era of digital transformation – challenges and opportunities

Before 2020, it seemed that Moore’s Law and technology, was a given. However, in the past few years, everything has changed. Flying taxis, robots, virtual worlds – these are the future that is already driving the demands of the telecommunications industry. Therefore, digitisation has become inevitable. This is a reflection from a panel of specialists at the GCCM  conference in London earlier this month,  on the challenges and opportunities of the Wholesale industry in the era of digital transformation.

The telecommunications industry is experiencing a digital transformation, which is bringing with it new opportunities and challenges. At the GCCM conference in London, a group of experienced experts in the telco industry discussed the impact of digitalization. The panelists included Grzegorz Popardowski, Chief Solution Engineer at Enxoo, Federico Homberg, Head of Business Development & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, Brendan Press, Chief Commercial Officer at GBI, and Allen Meeks, Chief Operating Officer at MOX Networks. The discussion, moderated by Carrier Community‘s Erik Van Stokkom, touched upon important topics such as investments in architecture, 5G, APIs, security, and the challenges of digital transformation.

The speakers emphasized the importance of investing in digital transformation, including the development of high-speed fiber networks and the implementation of intelligent systems to manage and analyze data. The integration of APIs is seen as a crucial aspect of digital transformation, enabling efficient use of information and automation of systems to deliver services quickly and easily without human intervention. However, data security and protection are also crucial in the era of digital transformation, particularly for carriers who have to ensure that the right data is available with the right quality to make reliable decisions that keep businesses competitive.

Investments in digital transformation: From fiber to intelligence

The telecommunications industry is evolving at a rapid pace, driven by advancements in technology and changing consumer demands. In order to stay competitive, businesses must invest in digital transformation, including the development of high-speed fiber networks and intelligent systems to manage and analyze data. 

I think technology keeps evolving. We’re headed towards obviously more bandwidth wirelessly, but more bandwidth wirelessly means shorter wavelengths, which means that the signal doesn’t go as far, which means you need more density of fiber” – said Allen Meeks.

Historically, people would build long-haul networks, put the fiber in the ground, test it once, and forget about it until they need to turn up a pair and they find out half their cable is bad ten years later. So we’re keeping historical records on all of our cables after the build. So 20 years down the road, we’ll be able to tell you what events happened everywhere on that cable, throughout its lifecycle, which is a pretty unique and long haul. So for us, digital transformation right now is about trying to bring that intelligence to the actual OSP/ ISP layer” – added Allen Meeks.

“We’re continually investing in technology platforms, trying to get more out of the existing legacy systems that we have. And there are a lot of developments in terms of capacity that we can see from chip developments and nanotechnology that are allowing us to get those greater capacities. But that’s just on the sort of the bare essentials of our industry and the capacity and making sure there’s availability 100% of the time. Digitalization is obviously something that happens at the end user side in terms of core infrastructure, but we have to be very focused on our own capabilities to ensure we’re digitalizing as well” – said Brendan Press.

APIs: A key driver for telecoms growth in the digital age

The integration of APIs is seen as a crucial aspect of digital transformation, enabling efficient use of information and automation of systems to deliver services quickly and easily without human intervention. Experts have discussed the importance of APIs in the digital age and their potential to change the world.

“API it’s one of the most important aspects of the whole digital transformation. In the beginning,  starting from the information that you have, you have to find a way to use it efficiently. So the key point of any automation is first integrating your systems and your data sources with the systems that use the data.  Nobody has to do any copy and pasting, so API can do it for you. That’s on one side, on the other side, integrating with your customers or with your partners, quoting your services, supporting your services, ordering your services, even provisioning your services automatically, without any human intervention, without any human errors, without anyone that has to actually look at it. This is something that, really changes the market, that really will change how we live, how we order services, and how we deliver services. And it’s going to be quicker, and easier, and those who embrace it quicker will change the whole market and will change the world in the future” – said Grzegorz Popardowski.

“I talked a lot about APIs already. So for me, this is a key growth area related to 5G. Also reaching new customer groups that we have not reached before. Many customers, at least of DT, and many developers are not even aware we are exposing APIs of any sort. They think we are a closed shop and they turn to the typical aggregators so here we have to improve our marketing activities. So APIs is one thing also crucial in the context of private 5G networks for example, which is another growth area for us. You need a lot of fiber to connect those lines alone” – said Federico Homberg.

The importance of data security and protection in the digital age

With the increasing digitization of the telecommunications industry, data security and protection have become crucial challenges. Carriers must ensure that the right data is available with the right quality to make reliable decisions and keep businesses competitive. 

“There are some challenges and difficulties in a digital transformation. And one of the biggest is getting the right quality data to the right place. And the challenge is huge because most of the classical carriers have these challenges ahead of them. This is where we can help to bring that data to life. The data that is collected automatically, then saved in your systems, is immediately available at your fingertips, and at any point of time in the future, you can make decisions that are reliable, that really bring your business forward, that really keep your business competitive” – said Grzegorz Popardowski. 

“What can go to the cloud will go to the cloud. And with that, security and data protection becomes even more important. When critical production goes to the cloud, you want to make sure that it’s up and running twenty-four-seven. And so it becomes a very important element of the whole value chain that we also as carriers have to get our head around how to do that” – said Federico Homberg.

“Data protection and data security, data residency is the challenge that we’re all facing. And since carriers are facing it, we too are facing it because we’re holding their data and their customers data. And in some parts of the world, there is a really strong demand to really take good care of data residency and data security, but there are ways to do it, there are quite simple ways to do it and we’re happy to do it every time it is needed. But it’s a challenge that in my opinion will never be overcome because the more we do, the more the other guys do to actually get the data out. So we have to work hard to prevent that from happening, but the work will never end” – added Grzegorz Popardowski.

In conclusion, digital transformation has presented numerous opportunities and challenges for the wholesale telco industry. The panelists at the GCCM Conference in London agreed that investing in digital transformation is essential, and businesses must focus on developing high-speed fiber networks, integrating APIs, and implementing intelligent systems to manage and analyze data. As the industry moves toward the future, telco companies must prioritize data security and protection to ensure they remain competitive. It is clear that digitalization is inevitable, and companies that embrace it quickly will have a significant advantage over those that do not. The future of the wholesale telco industry is bright, and it will be exciting to see how companies continue to innovate and meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

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