Back in 2001, there were some 200 global telecom service providers. Now there might be more than 800 service providers.
Back in 1980, nearly all those firms were owned by the government. By 2001, about half were private . In 2017, nearly all 800 firms are private. By 2025, it is not clear what the ownership pattern will be.
That change from public to private, monopoly to competition, revolutionized the tasks faced by telecom regulators. Under monopoly, the issue was mostly to ensure universal service and protect consumers. Neither innovation nor investment was a huge concern.
In the present era, incentives for investment are key, and will be absolutely paramount in the next era, for several reasons.
As first developed markets and then developing markets reach saturation, sustainability is going to be the prime issue for most companies. That is why massive industry consolidation is universally predicted: it simply will not be possible for all the competitors to survive.
Competition is an issue, but product life cycles are the bigger problem. Simply, every key product is declining, or going to decline. That is going to stress both gross revenues and profitability.
If consolidation forecasts are even close to being right, the fundamental tasks for government regulators might change quite dramatically. In the monopoly era, universal service arguably was the key concern.
In the era of competition, the task has been to promote market benefits for consumers.
In the the next era, supplier extinction is likely to be a reality. With less market-driven competition, regulators are likely to be more concerned about creating incentives for investment by potential new competitors.
Consider 5G, which also will be historic: it will be the first mobile network whose new customers are not “human beings.” What does it mean for regulators when the big new classes of accounts are sensors, not people?
To help prepare for the huge changes, PTC has created the Industry Transformation Boot Camp. The objective: to provide the critical insight regulators need to oversee a vastly-different industry, perhaps as different as monopoly and state ownership was to competition.
The week-long training event, including Spectrum Futures and PTC Academy, especially is designed to train mid-career professionals on what is coming and why; what it will mean for the telecom industry and end users.