The Top Five Technologies Carriers Need

Author: Derek Kerton, Managing Partner, Kerton Group, @derekkerton

Top Five articles are hot right now, and why not? They present the most important mythical carrier photoinformation, ranked and categorized, ready for rapid consumption and reaction. This article is no exception, as we ask for the top five technology areas where telcos worldwide need technology partnerships. Telecom carriers need to build, buy, or partner for many of the technology enhancements they put into the networks or customer solutions each year, and that creates a $5.6 Trillion market for companies that sell into telecoms each year. That’s trillion with a “T”. With those dollars on the line, determining the solutions carriers need is well worth the effort.

Historically, though, not only did telcos not switch out their technology very often, but even when they did, they were subject to vendor lock-in, and would just buy from the same Tier 1 Vendors at each iteration. But those days are over, and their over in two ways:


  1. Competition from the Internet, OTT, and new entrants means that carriers must update technology much more frequently, and must seek best-in-class solutions. Service agility is now a telco business imperative, and trends such as digitization mean that carriers are increasingly able to respond more quickly than ever before
  2. After decades of vendor lock-in, carriers are seeking a different modus operandi: telcos want to become digital platforms with virtualized network functions. This would allow them to be more flexible in trying out new services and software, and either winning or failing fast. This also will allow carriers to work more closely with multiple vendors. Telcos have seen first-hand the developer creativity that stable platforms like iOS and Android can do to unleash creativity, and now they want some of that abundance at the network level.


Between those two factors, the opportunities have never been better for entrepreneurs, software developers, and new entrants to strike deals and share a slice of the telecom industry pie. The question is, what are the ideas carriers have identified as gaps they need to fill with partners? Telecom Council of Silicon Valley asks dozens of network operators just that question each fall at the TC3 Summit: “What technologies, innovations, and partnerships do you want from Silicon Valley (or any innovator) over the next year?”


While this year’s meeting hasn’t taken place yet, early feedback from the carriers is that they will be asking for innovations in:


  • More Cloudification, Hybrid Clouds, datacenter performance ideas
  • XaaS – anything as a service, the third stage evolution of datacenters: rackspace, PaaS, SaaS, and now XaaS
  • Virtualization – borrowing from IT, telcos are virtualizing the network. NFV, SDN.
  • 5G – wireless enhancements, also interested in 4.5G updates
  • IoT – Connecting cars, equipment, sensors, the body, and equipment to the network


But that’s just a draft list. The real, actionable information for 2016 will be revealed from over 20 global carriers at this year’s TC3, September 30 – October 1. You can also download the carrier’s wish lists for this year from the Telecom Council’s website.

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