Top Five Telecom Technology Developments of 2012

By Joan Engebretson December 20, 2012

In last week’s post, I looked at the top five telecom business developments of 2012. This week, I looked at the top five telecom technology developments. Last week, I noted that wireless tended to dominate the important telecom business news – and the same holds true for telecom technology news.

The top five telecom technology developments of 2012, as I see them, are:

Software Defined Networking is a High Priority for Carriers. Software defined networking sounds almost too good to be true. On one hand, it promises to help service providers increase revenue by supporting services such as bandwidth on demand. On the other hand, it aims to decrease costs by centralizing network control, thereby reducing the cost of switches and routers. But apparently it’s not just hype. Carriers such as Verizon conducted successful trials of the technology in 2012 and the word is that several major carriers will deploy the technology more broadly in 2013.

Carriers Hasten to Deploy Small Cells and Wi-Fi Offload. Carrier concerns about whether they have enough spectrum to support future growth came to the forefront in 2012. While regulators aim to free up spectrum through spectrum sharing and an incentive auction of TV broadcast spectrum, carriers are looking to enhance the efficiency of their current spectrum holdings. Using Wi-Fi to offload traffic from increasingly crowded mobile networks is getting a lot of attention and should be even more appealing once carriers begin deploying equipment supporting seamless handoffs between cellular and Wi-Fi. Small cells also are getting a lot of attention as a means of increasing capacity in high-usage areas.

Employees Bring Their Own Devices. More and more businesses have stopped trying to prevent employees from using personal devices for work purposes and instead are learning to love the concept. Whether this approach actually saves costs is debatable. But if companies get a handle on how to manage it, there is widespread belief that it could ultimately be a win/win for employees and the company. Communications service providers could benefit from taking the lead on this by advising business customers about best practices in this area.

White Spaces Technology Sees First Deployments.

One of the most promising new broadband technologies uses vacant TV broadcast spectrum to deliver high-speed services over distances as great as 100 kilometers. 2013 saw the first deployments of TV white spaces technology, which is likely to be most popular with wireless Internet service providers in rural areas. And while some of the vacant TV spectrum could get auctioned off in an upcoming voluntary auction of TV broadcast spectrum, policymakers aim to leave some of that spectrum available for unlicensed use. The main point of contention will be how much unlicensed spectrum is needed.

Developers Get Creative About Video Cord Cutting. The number of households that opt not to subscribe to pay TV is small in comparison with the number of pay TV households. But the percentage of video cord cutters is growing, creating new opportunities for creative entrepreneurial companies. Aereo, for example, offers a remote antenna and DVR service in New York City aimed at making it easier for residents to obtain over-the-air television broadcasts – although the legality of that offering is a subject of much debate. DyleTV aims to make broadcast TV more exciting by enabling people to watch it on their mobile phones without incurring usage charges. And at least one company – Internet Broadcasting Corp. – has launched a cable-like offering delivered over the Internet.

The reason I enjoy covering the telecom industry as much as I do is that it’s continually changing – and I’ve no doubt 2013 will be no exception. I look forward to exploring next year’s events with Techzone readers.



Contributing Editor

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