The demand for mobile telephony will continue to decline in the near future. The pandemic has contributed to a temporary increase in the duration of cell phone calls. However, the growth is likely to be short-lived. The decrease in voice traffic is due to the increasing popularity of messengers and social networks, as users prefer to communicate for free through them.
The decline in voice traffic leads to a decrease in the profits of telecom companies. These losses will have to be compensated by developing various additional digital services that can be monetized. The leading operators are already actively engaged in this. Developing their digital services, telecom operators are gradually turning into marketplaces.
Today subscribers can already buy antivirus software for Androids and iPhones through operators and pay for their purchases in the, Google Play, App Store and iTunes Store. But in this article, let’s discuss what else bites the telecom industry regarding IT.
Data Begets Data
One of the key challenges for the telecom industry in the coming years is rapid traffic growth. According to Ericsson, over the past decade, the volume of data transmitted over mobile networks has increased 300-fold. Global traffic, including fixed wireless access (FWA), was 78 exabytes monthly in Q3 2021. Four years from now, in 2027, it could rise to 370 exabytes. This is because people are increasingly accessing the Internet from smartphones.
The Internet of Things is expected to contribute to mobile traffic growth soon. Experts predict that this technology will become widely used very soon.
Telecommunication companies will have to adapt to the new conditions. However, whether they can do so immediately is an open question. It may turn out that the capacities of operators in big cities are not enough to process increased amounts of data. That’s when telecom companies started using software solutions to organize and manage electronic data.
The logical solution to the problem is the deployment of 5G networks. The 4.8-4.99 GHz range is defined as a perspective for the new generation of communication. The use of frequencies higher than the considered classic 3.4-3.5 GHz would require the installation of a much larger number of base stations to provide coverage and would make roaming with foreign networks more difficult.
How Can IT Solve This Telecom Issue?
For telecom companies, the cloud is an opportunity to cope with the ever-increasing volume of data. Cloud data centers, which are more flexible than classic data centers, are already actively developing. Analysts predict that cloud data centers will snowball shortly. According to IDC, worldwide spending on public clouds will increase from $229 billion in 2019 to $1.3 Trillion by 2025. Telecom companies also actively develop their cloud services to provide to their customers.
Another trend is the development of edge computing. Today’s data centers have a significant disadvantage: data is processed and stored on remote servers and storage systems. Data transfer is subject to delays, and performance is reduced. This problem is solved by edge computing, placing small data centers closer to data sources. Only data that cannot be processed is sent to the large data center. The demand for edge computing is expected to increase with the mass use of the Internet of Things.
Tight Data Centers
The emergence of 5G will solve the problem of data transfer, but not their storage. The volume of information transferred by operators will increase many times. More data centers will be required to store it.
Meanwhile, the shortage of server racks available there has only grown since the pandemic. Since the beginning of the quarantine, the demand for IT resources has increased significantly, while new sites in the data center market have appeared much slower. Creating a data center needs sufficient power and communications.
One thing is clear: the operators must significantly increase investment in developing their computing infrastructure.
How Can IT Solve this Telecom Issue?
5G could transform the entire telecom market. This technology will facilitate the emergence of new digital services that will compensate for the operators’ falling revenues due to reduced voice traffic.
First, 5G will give an additional boost to the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), which today is hampered by insufficient network capacity.
5G will contribute to the next stage of the Internet of Things – the Internet of Everything. IoT devices will be able to connect simultaneously to computers, smartphones, and payment terminals, connecting entire cities to the same network. This will lead to an increase in the influence of mobile operators. Without them, this system will not work. In addition, cellular operators will store the entire array of data transmitted through the smart grid.
5G will catalyze the development of other technologies, such as metaverses. This is a digital world in which users interact with each other using digital avatars. Telecom operators will also be able to take part in such projects, expanding their digital services on this platform or just including access to the metaverse in any tariff. Users who buy it will have a better connection to metaverses. As 5G matures, AI in telecom will become essential for efficiently managing massive datasets and optimizing complex networks.
Hackers Vs The Telecom
Another serious problem for telecom is the growing number and sophistication of hacker attacks. According to Group-IB’s Hi-Tech Trends 2022-2023 report, the telecom industry is attractive to various pro-government hacker groups. Over the past two years, six hacker groups affiliated with special services have shown interest in the telecommunications industry. Their goal is sabotage and cyber espionage.
The first threat to telecom companies is trivial DDoS attacks. In 2020, a DDoS attack in Iran against two mobile operators in Iran left the country’s residents without Internet and mobile communications for 7 hours. Given increasing geopolitical tensions worldwide, we can expect such attacks to become more frequent.
Another serious problem for the telecom industry is BGP-Hijacking. These attacks make stealing bank card data and other personal information possible. BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) is a routing protocol on the Internet that allows routes to be generated for transferring traffic from one IP address to another. There have already been BGP hacking incidents around the world. One occurred in 2014 when Dell specialists identified 22 hacking attacks on BGP routers. Hackers managed to hack into the account of a Canadian telecom company employee and steal $83,000 worth of cryptocurrency from the mining pools.
Another threat that is becoming increasingly common is the DNS attack. In this case, the user is redirected to fake pages on the web. As a result of these attacks, hackers steal people’s personal data, and the victims may not even be aware of the leak. DNS attacks cost the world’s governments $7 million annually, according to a 2019 report by EfficientIP. Telecom companies have become one of the favorite targets of such attacks. Successful DNS attacks cause companies’ applications and cloud servers to downtime, causing significant financial damage.
In addition, telecom is a breeding ground for various spyware applications. Cybercriminals are already capable of intercepting SMS and user conversations, and this threat will only increase. Interception can be done using a special laptop with an antenna capable of receiving and decoding GSM traffic or using a fake base station. It becomes a bridge between the subscriber and the real base station of the operator. Fake base stations catch the signal from all cell phones within their range.
Finally, another serious cyber threat to telecom companies is phone number spoofing. Any call to a subscriber on a cell phone uses two parameters to identify him or her. The first is automatic number identification (ANI), and the second is Caller ID. Anyone with access to a telephone line via Internet telephony protocols can substitute the Caller ID.
How Can IT Solve this Telecom Issue?
It is unlikely that it will ever be possible to solve the problems of the vulnerability of operators’ networks. However, it is possible to improve their reliability. For this purpose, telecom operators will build a cybersecurity mesh. According to Gartner, companies that implement these networks will be able to reduce losses from individual cyber incidents by 90% by 2024. Such protection methods could become particularly effective in the proliferation of the IoT.
Instead of creating a global security perimeter around all devices, protection will be built around each point, each node individually, and each component will be in a local security perimeter. Vulnerabilities will become easier to monitor and remediate.
Another cybersecurity trend among telecom operators will be the development of eSIM (embedded SIM). Now, eSIM is used as a supplement to conventional SIM cards. But soon, it may become the only one in a smartphone. The advantage of eSIM is its higher security. If a smartphone is stolen, it can be blocked more quickly, and the mobile number can be immediately activated on another device.
Recent years have been the years of IT transformation in telecom, but the most interesting is yet to come. There are more and more threats, but despite the challenges, we have a bright future.
In this competitive ecosystem, telecom companies will inevitably have to transform. Those who ignore the demands of the new digital era will fall out of favor. Telecom operators must become more flexible and innovative. Then global IT innovations will open new horizons for their development and growth.