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Caught in the middle: How telecoms providers can navigate a difficult landscape

Life has not been easy for telecoms providers. They are caught in the middle between ever-changing consumer demands and complex infrastructure that is difficult to adapt. Considering the circumstances, they have managed well, but the rise in service interruptions cannot be ignored, with last month seeing the world’s largest ever internet outage.

Why have telecoms providers struggled? To understand this, it is first necessary to understand the trends that providers have had to adapt to. The first of which is changing technology, with the most obvious trend being the switch to 5G. These new networks are even more complex than existing ones, with their low-latency requirements and security issues presenting new headaches for providers.

Alongside this is the ever-changing nature of consumer demand. Consumption patterns used to be easy to predict ten years ago, but with the rise of streaming platforms it has become more difficult to plan where providers should place their resources. This has been complicated further by Covid-19, with the shift to home working leading to providers dealing with levels of stress on networks not seen before.

Despite facing these serious challenges, providers are hamstrung by the size and complexity of their infrastructure. The entire telecoms industry is underpinned by an incredibly complex system, where they must deal with a high number of low volume transactions. This means that rather than being able to adapt to user-behaviour swiftly, whether this be levels of demand or what areas this demand is coming from, it takes time.

However, even with these issues identified, challenges unravel from trying to fix them. Telecom providers need a real focus on their change management and capacity planning as upgrades can cause too much downtime and they don’t have the tools to identify spikes in usage. This results in a higher risk of outages, higher risk of customer dissatisfaction and higher costs.

In order to prepare for peak periods of demand, firms must get a complete understanding of what their system can handle. They need to not only identify the overall capacity ceiling of their systems, but specific bottlenecks and pinch points that can affect overall performance. If they’re using the right software telecoms providers will be able to go a step further and model certain levels of demand on their systems. Problems with change management can be countered with the right software, which will enable companies to mitigate problems with infrastructure migration, through ensuring that there is a plan B.

There is no doubt that telecoms providers face a difficult situation, but that is no excuse for sitting on their hands and doing nothing. Whether providers are struggling with change management or high levels of demand, the right software solution can be key in solving these problems. They must act now, as consumer patience won’t last forever.