We only need to open a newspaper or switch on the news to find ourselves drowning in a sea of conversation around the most popular tech topics. Be it EU roaming, 5G, the latest communication tools or connectivity – we’re surrounded by misinformation, hype and often a lot of fake news when it comes to these subjects. Here Paul Fawcett, Mobility Product Manager and Brian Mackow-McGuire, Product Manager of Voice and Data at Maintel delve deeper into the crowded tech space and what's in store next year!
As we approach the new year, leaders in the telecoms and technology industries will be keeping a keen eye on the predictions for the year ahead for expert insight into the key changes we can expect to see. In an attempt to cut through this noise, we have looked with an analytical eye at the most basic facts, to make an informed prediction about what we can expect to see as we enter 2019.
1.EU Roaming: 'Roam like at home'
With Brexit right around the corner, a common misconception to put straight is on EU roaming charges. At the moment, there’s a lot of “will they, won’t they” conversation in the media about whether or not the charges will return after we depart from the EU.
All EU rules and regulations, including those on mobile roaming anywhere in the EU, will continue to apply until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. So, if there is a withdrawal agreement then the charges won’t return in 2019, however fears remain that once Brexit takes place the gains could be reversed.
With this in mind, and with the UK focusing on international competitiveness, it’s likely that mobile operators will continue to strive to include more and more countries in their “Roam like at home” offerings.
2.5G: Transforming our lives
This year, we’ve been talking about the greatly anticipated arrival of 5G. Expectations have been set that this technology is going to entirely transform the Internet, the economy and our day-to-day lives.
As we enter 2019, there’s no denying that 5G will certainly offer us greater speed, capacity and coverage. But, it’s important to remember that it also uses higher frequency bands than 4G, which presents us with such challenges as penetrating walls successfully, alongside other hurdles.
Whilst we’re told that 5G is right around the corner – 2019 is not going to be the year of new Internet speed. Most likely, this will go mainstream in 2020.
3.Consumer applications: Increased use in the workplace
Recent research has shown that over the past year, there has been a large rise in the use of consumer applications (often unsanctioned) in the workplace, including WhastApp, Snapchat and Instagram.
In fact, our research shows that the use of consumer apps like WhatsApp to engage with customers currently stands at six percent. The danger here, is that all of these conversations are currently not visible to the organisation. By conducting these conversations on an encrypted platform which is outside of the organisation’s security walls, governance and compliance, the risk of data leaking rises significantly.. This is a real cause for concern for businesses as it prevents them from spotting any potential vulnerabilities – giving them no way of preventing information leaks. As consumer tools continue to increase in popularity, the use of unsanctioned tools for workplace conversations is only likely to rise, further putting businesses at severe risk.
In light of this, in 2019 we can expect to see more businesses focusing on bringing order to the rise in communications channels to reign in the chaos. This means more internal conversations around the reasons behind banning certain tools and taking the time to listen to the drivers and rationale for using the tools in the first place.
4.Cloud: The rise of virtualisation
When it comes to the cloud, we’ve undoubtedly reached a tipping point. At the moment, companies look at their own applications and cloud as an annex, but this is about to change. More organisations are beginning to think about migrating their applications to the cloud, and in doing so the volume of traffic is going to increase. Over the next year, we can therefore expect more people to be looking at the way their network operates in much more detail.
What’s key is that users can’t really tell what is hosted in the cloud. At the moment, many are still having to connect to a VPN to access applications such as SharePoint. With the growth in cloud-based services the need for VPN access is diminishing to the point where the need for it will be questioned.
Therefore, as we move into the new year, we can expect to see more applications moving to the cloud, which requires no log in. Not only this, but organisations will also begin to recognise the vulnerability that comes with the cloud. It is tempting to simply take the cost of the VPN out of the budget and re-purpose those funds on increasing security.
Back in 2017, migrations to the cloud were an everyday occurrence and it was often thought that SD-WAN would really take off. But, it didn’t. The delay can be attributed to the fact vendors were under-prepared and customers needed extra time to evaluate the undoubted benefits of SD-WAN.
Gone is the question of SD-WHEN. 2019 is going to be the year that SD-WAN gives us smarter networks. With cloud-based applications overtaking applications accessed locally, CIOs are going to be forced to rethink the focus of their networks from being a closed environment, to one that extends into public cloud. This means implementing a smarter network so that it becomes possible to react in real-time to congestion, contention and availability. The key decision makers involved in implementing SD-WAN will begin to recognise that it does not mean deploying cheap and cheerful internet and cancelling expensive private circuits, but that it allows for a smarter network to be introduced.
In 2019, as SD-WAN is rolled out, it’s less glamorous sibling Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) will also become part of the network landscape, as more devices such as Cisco 1K and 4K routers become capable of taking more virtualised functions. What were once devices (routers, firewalls), will become licensed Virtual Network Functions (VNFs).
Whilst people are looking at SD-WAN, the real revolution will be Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) with network devices becoming virtual and implemented in real-time. This means that the way we view and manage those networks and functions will be transformed.