In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum Futures Conference

Most of us are comfortable noting that some important telecom products are past their peak, and now are set for permanent decline. Voice provides the best example. Subscriptions to fixed voice have been falling, globally, since 2006 or so. Decline began in 2000 in the U.S. market.

Likewise, text messaging revenues are falling, and usage is shifting to over-the-top substitutes.

Linear video subscriptions widely are expected to continue falling, in developed markets, in favor of OTT alternatives.

In the U.S. market, even fixed internet access subscriptions have fallen, as more users find other alternatives, especially mobile access.

So it might be reasonable to ask whether something similar–affecting the entire industry–is possible. Some would say it is possible for the global telecom industry to stop growing, in terms of revenue.

This peak telecom development would be historically unprecedented, as telecom revenues have grown, almost without any exceptions, for more than a century.

But there are key constraints. Once every human has a connection, and nearly all customers who want to buy specific services have done so, what then?

That is why, in principle,  5G will be radically different. In fact, 5G is not a linear extrapolation of prior networks (1G, 2G, 3G, 4G), but a break. Where all prior networks grew by serving the needs of human users, 5G will succeed or fail as a platform for serving non-human users.

But that also means 5G poses unique dangers. Where prior digital networks promised higher value for human users, 5G is the first where higher value for sensors represents the opportunities. Sure, 5G will supply “enhanced mobile broadband” (faster speeds, lower latency). But that mostly simply displaces 4G internet access with a “better” solution. It does not necessarily create new demand.

To be sure, the telecom industry has faced continual challenges since the end of the monopoly era. But never has the industry faced new challenges from a “saturated demand” stage.

That is why the Industry Transformation Boot Camp is so relevant. A week-long training program created by PTC, the Boot Camp will train executives on  where we are, where we are going, how to get there and why 5G will mark such a historic break from the past.

Spectrum Futures will teach you what you need to know about 5G, and why. PTC Academy will follow up by teaching you what key issues “C level” telecom executives will face in its immediate next stage of change, which will see massive consolidation, creating an industry you will not recognize.

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