If you want to stay ahead you must innovate
Let’s face it, this is an industry that survives on innovation. Over the past 150 years – since the first subsea cable went into service across the Atlantic in 1866 – carriers and their suppliers have transformed not only the telecoms industry but the whole of the world’s economy, politics and social life. (If you don’t believe me, just try converting the last page you looked at on the internet into Morse code.)
Sadly, to a large extent the industry does its work, if not in secret, at least hidden away from the public. A Facebook user may well comment on the differences between Apple and Samsung, or possibly AT&T versus Verizon – but is hardly likely to know of the global companies behind their hourly selfies or updates. Even an office worker – like me – will email or phone a contact in the US, in China or in Australia and grumble if the connection doesn’t work, without thinking about the technology behind it all.
The companies that build and operate terrestrial and subsea cables, data centres, internet exchanges, and other infrastructure, keep this whole 21st century information network operating.
It’s an industry that moves fast, with a mix of companies that are at once competitors and collaborators. The industry is innovating faster than ever before; or at the very least is facing the consequences of innovation. Partly that’s from the public’s appetite for over-the-top video content and high-quality, low-latency cloud services even in the remotest of places.
But it’s also because of the development of new technologies that do more but threaten to make margins even tighter – the spread of LTE and other wireless technologies, for example, or the advance of fibre and copper broadband.
There’s seemingly no end to this upsurge in demand. It’s an exciting future, but the industry will need a clear head and a steady hand to navigate into it. it