Nokia Siemens Networks provides Vodafone's 3G mobile infrastructure in New Zealand and is working with Kordia/FX Networks/Woosh on their bid for the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI). Country manager Andrew Button offers his view on what's in store for the local ICT industry in 2011.
"The changes for the communications industry have been building like storm clouds for about 10 years - or at least it can seem that way to many large communications players around the world.
"Each year technology improvements, competition and regulation provide a richer experience for the end customer and drive the cost of networks down. Yet the revenue and bottom line profit for the operators and service providers is flat or declining . Fast transparent networks are enabling all manner of "Over-The-Top" players to generate revenues with fabulous services to end users without incremental revenues for the network operator. More traffic often means more cost and minimal incremental revenue for operators these days.
The storm clouds do have a silver lining for consumers and the businesses that wish to serve them over networks.
My predictions are that 2011 will be the year when :
1. Everyone will either have or want a smartphone and it really will become "the remote control" for your life. Mobile internet will increasingly be perceived as the real internet.
2. Businesses of every kind will get used to delivering their services over networks. Even when in a store, at a bus stop or in a stadium, the experience will be enhanced by having a device in hand. The real economy will become a networked economy and every business will be a part of it - not just content and software.
3. Software in a box will be the rare exception. Get it in an App store or as a cloud service.
4. Ultra Fast Broadband and RBI will enable all of the above -- and deliver a large amount of video, often Over-The-Top video.
5. Retail margins won't be high on open access networks and much of the innovation will be in applications, devices and cloud services -- none of which are tied to access networks in the broadband era.
So what must operators and their suppliers do? Focus on the new models and making money from what consumers and businesses do over "their" networks. 2011 will be a year in which things change more than ever before as we shift to broadband as the standard model -- and we are doing that even before the fibre and LTE networks are built. It's hard to guess how many homes will be connected next year, but its easy to predict that communications and ICT will never be the same again.
So what is special for New Zealand in this? We need to be aware that broadband is a two-edged sword for nations as well as operators. For New Zealand, we risk becoming a nation of consumers rather than a nation of shop keepers who offer content, software, services and exciting goods at low prices via the mail. We need to ensure that the encouragement of demand and development of appropriate frameworks and institutions matches and preferably precedes the role out of networks.