We’ve all struggled to cope as work, home, school, and travel underwent dramatic shifts in 2020. The ways we communicate, socialize, and entertain ourselves have been impacted, and the telecom and wireless industries are at the epicenter of these transformations.

Home and mobile networks have become crucial to every aspect of life, providing both crises and opportunities to the telecom industry. This is the central theme of how the wireless industry has changed during COVID-19, and it will continue to drive the industry in 2021 and beyond.

How The Wireless Industry Has Changed During COVID-19

The scale of part-time and full-time remote work in 2020 was unprecedented. COVID-19 has merged home, mobile, and office life at a pace that could not have been predicted. Before 2020, some companies offered work-from-home or remote work options, but it was far from the norm that it has become.

As workers are spreading out, universal access to wireless — a nice-to-have in prior years — has become an absolute necessity. The line between work and home is blurring, and remote workers are coming to expect the reliability and security of their office networks to follow them everywhere they go.

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Telecommunication Trends for 2021

  • Work-from-home is here to stay: Facebook, Dropbox, Salesforce, and several other companies are planning to switch to long-term remote work even after a return to the office is possible. The permanent increase in the partially remote and fully remote workforce will cement the changes the wireless industry faced in 2020.
  • 5G deployment will accelerate: Work-from-home requires faster, more reliable wireless infrastructure. Companies that have already invested in enhanced network quality are experiencing 31% higher per-user revenues and 27% lower user churn. The case for network infrastructure investment is clear, and providers are already starting to move up their 5G development projects.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) on the rise: The future of work won’t follow the old rules, and networks need to adjust to changes in real-time. AI promises the ability to forecast peak traffic, end-user distributions, and equipment failures faster and more reliably than any human possibly could, allowing networks to handle user behavior that no longer matches the classic 9-to-5 routine.
  • Internet of things (IoT) is everywhere: The total number of IoT devices has now surpassed the number of non-IoT devices. By 2025, over 75% of internet-connected devices are expected to be IoT devices. This growth rate will likely accelerate as the 5G expansion powers new IoT potential and as IoT-connected sensors are needed to empower remote workers. All of these new devices and their rapid communication needs will cause a drastic increase in data usage, especially in industrial settings.
  • Cybersecurity concerns ramp up: IoT device security and the risks of home networks being used for sensitive work data have triggered increased concerns about the state of cybersecurity, and the telecom industry will need to be at the forefront of addressing these security concerns.

The Future of Wireless Is Here

For years, wireless has been referred to as the fourth utility, a necessity on the level of water, gas, and electricity. The expansion of work-from-home is further entrenching that need since a remote workforce cannot function without reliable home and mobile networks.

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