Communications & Media Trends to Watch in 2021: In Conversation with Lumine President, David Nyland

In 2020, life as we knew it shifted online. This shift was powered by the communications and media industry, which during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been essential to keeping people connected and driving the new normal of everyday life.

When public behavior changes, technology changes with it. Whether joining in on your team’s virtual happy hour or live-streaming a friend’s wedding, communications and media technology is keeping us connected while we remain physically apart.

With new customer needs and this shift in the way we live our lives, where will communications and media businesses place their focus to keep up – or more importantly – stay ahead in the year to come?

We spoke with Lumine President, David Nyland, for his perspective on three emerging trends within the communications and media industry to look out for in 2021.

Mitigating Video Congestion in Networks due to Work-from-Home

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the work-from-home orders around the world, we are seeing demand on communication networks unlike anything before. For reference:

  • In the United States, Verizon reported a 47% increase in use of collaboration tools and a 52% increase of virtual private network traffic
  • AT&T has seen mobile voice and Wi-Fi call minutes up 33% and 75% respectively, while consumer voice minutes were up 64% on fixed lines: a reversal of previous trends. AT&T also reported that its core network traffic was up 23%.
  • In the United Kingdom, BT reports a 35% to 60% increase in daytime weekday fixed broadband usage.
  • As of February 2020, approximately 3.4% of the US population was working remotely. As a result of the pandemic, 42% of the US population are working from home full-time. It is estimated that this figure will stabilize to 25-30% of the workforce working from home by the end of 2021.
  • Certain operators have recorded as high as a 60% increase in internet traffic compared to before the crisis.

Video congestion can pose a potential threat to keep critical services running. New network demands need to be addressed at a large-scale, where network operators and governments must work together to ensure proper infrastructure. We also need to ensure continuity of hardware supplies, and the classification of communication and engineering staff as considered essential workers.

To learn more about best practices that can mitigate network overload, take a look at this report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Policy.

Digitization of the End-User Purchasing and Plan Management

With operator storefronts closed, customers need an online storefront experience. Increasingly, customers are expecting this to be a mobile-first experience. Operators must move away from retail to online interactions, to focus on retaining customers through a digitally optimized end to end customer journey.

This can be achieved through products and services that make the life of a consumer easier. Operators need to be innovating and upgrading customer touchpoints to enhance their experience across all channels. Self-serve and self-care platforms (like Lumine company, WDS Mobile, for example) are crucial to keeping customers satisfied. An improvement in customer experience will boost all KPIs, with customers spending significantly more time on platforms they enjoy using.

Areas for telecom digitization to drive customer experience can be:

  • Self-managed network functionality
  • Innovation around additional business functions like real-time analytics
  • Digital services that support new devices

Whether it’s day to day self-care management, or proactively notifying customers about service outages, operators need to create a digital ecosystem of support and flexibility for the customer to create the best experience.

IoT Proliferation Enabled by Larger-Scale Deployment of 5G Networks

With the increased demand for rapid internet connectivity, large-scale deployments of 5G networks will enable a new world of possibilities for IoT devices.

The global 5G IoT market size is expected to grow from 0.7B USD in 2020, to 6.3B USD in 2025. With the rising technological advancement of IoT across residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, there is a growing demand for low latency connectivity due to an increasing number of connected IoT devices and data traffic.

We already see this demand rapidly growing in residential and commercial use cases. What devices are connected to your home network right now? I count seven: my computer, phone, speaker, watch, television, thermostat, and fridge.

We are seeing the value of 5G with IoT becoming increasingly mainstream. As remote work and digital collaboration became core parts of our life in 2020 and will continue to in 2021, the need for reliable connectivity and more bandwidth is crucial. 5G deployments will be a strong force to keep businesses, people, and employees connected. While we will continue to work and manage school from our homes, 5G will play a role in building out smart offices, remote asset monitoring, and location-based services.

Beyond residential and commercial use cases, large-scale 5G deployment will drive IoT enablement into different sectors like industrial, agricultural, and manufacturing, to name a few. We are on the cusp of witnessing the power of 5G with IoT. The opportunities are endless.

Final Note

We appreciate the opportunity to stay in touch with you and welcome your feedback on your own observations given your market niche and geography, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I wish you the very best for 2021, most importantly staying healthy and safe in continued turbulent times.

Kind regards,

David Nyland

President, Lumine Group