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Defining Telecom Engineering Services

Telecom engineering is a key branch of engineering that has touched (directly and indirectly) all the humans and industries of the world. With the advent of IoT, connectivity is the most essential thing for enterprises. In the background of all the smart things, telecom engineering plays a key role in connecting the devices/systems with the right stakeholders. As in the next few years, 5G rollout will accelerate, there will be massive growth of telecom industry but it will not be uniform across all the players. For example, telecom operators will bear the burden of this rollout due to huge capital expenditure. There is also a change in the overall structure of the telecom industry: Due to political issue, several countries are apprehensive to install Chinese telecom equipment for 5G rollout; The profit pool of telecom operators are also shifting from B2C segments to B2B segments. OTT companies have a long-term effect on traditional media and entertainment houses. At the center of these fundamental shifts, technology plays a crucial role. So, with the advent of IoT, 5G, OTT, and connectivity protocols, service providers have an opportunity to expand their overall telecom portfolio.
Here we will discuss key aspects of the overall telecom industry, key engineering features, and outsourcing.

Key players in the telecom and hi-tech industry:

The telecom industry has both B2B and B2C aspects. Telecom operators, Telecom Handset/ CPE Manufacturers,and Media companies typically cater to B2C segments and the rest of the segments primarily focus on the B2B channel. The key players in the telecom industry are highlighted below.

  • Telecom Operators: These companies are telecom network providers both for domestic and international markets. Some of the leading names in this segment are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange, etc.
  • Telecom Equipment Providers: Enterprises those manufacture telecom equipment and often sell to telecom operators for building the network. Examples includeHuawei, Cisco, Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, etc.
  • Telecom Handset/ CPE, Hi-tech Manufacturers Includes mobile phone manufacturers such as Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG, etc.
  • Telecom ISVs: Includes enterprises that build telecom software related to billing, OSS, BSS, HR, financial, and procurement among others. Examples include Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Amdocs, Oracle, Cisco, etc.
  • Media Companies (DTH, Cable, OTT, etc): Includes entertainment/sports/news content providers such as Disney, Netflix. In the DTH segment, telecom operators are major players in some cases.
  • Gaming Companies: includes gaming software and hardware developers such as Nintendo, EA, Microsoft, etc.

Telecom engineering segmentation by components:

Some of the key telecom segments are highlighted below. Most of the segments are still dominated by network engineering, connectivity, and protocols. But the usage of the software and virtualized functions are increasing to shift the overall control from hardware (manual & static) to software (automated & dynamic) oriented.

  • Wireless: Defines different wireless connectivity and related features including 2G,3G,4G, LTE, 5G, BSC, MSC, Core & Access. The gradual improvement KPIs (the shift from 2G to 5G) are often related to bandwidth, latency, connection density, and reliability among others.
  • Wireline/ Broadband: Defines different types of wireline/broadband connectivity and related features including FTTx, DSLAM, xPON, OTN. Typically, wireline/broadband had better connection speed and reliability, but with the advent of 5G, this may not remain a competitive advantage.
  • Handset/ CPE: Includes device manufacturers in the areas of Handsets, Set-top box (STB), hi-tech gadgets
  • Video/ Gaming: Includes protocols and technology players, content developers, and media companies related to Cable, DOCSIS, DTH, IPTV, OTT. Also include gaming firms.
  • Telecom IoT: Includes different types of connectivity such as NB- IoT, LoRa, SigFox which can be differentiated based on power consumption, coverage area, network speed, latency, etc.
  • Enterprise Networks: Includes both hardware and software components for establishing the telecom network such as Firewalls, PBX Switches, VoIP, UC, Router, Data Center- Switches & Signaling.
  • Telecom ISV: Provides license-based software for Assurance, Fulfillment, Billing, Network Management.

Key trends in the telecom sector:

Some of the key trends of telecom engineering are highlighted below:

  • 5G deployment: With the need for high-speed connectivity across the globe, a 5G rollout will be completed across all the major global markets by 2025. 5G also provides the advantage of network slicing.
  • The emergence of private networks: The major beneficiary of 5G will be the industrial sectors. As they are looking for reliable 5G connections, so in many cases, they are applying for local 5G licenses.For example, BMW, Robert Bosch, and Volkswagen have applied to set up local 5G networks.
  • Applications of SDN & NFV: SDN improves network performance through efficient network configuration whereas NFV enables virtualization of network services, resulting in enhanced network service deployment for the operators.
  • Satellite connectivity: Satellite-based connectivity can be related to Starlink (Tesla initiative) which intends to provide high-speed, low latency broadband across the globe. This can be a real game-changer in the history of telecom connectivity.
  • IoT platform engineering: The majority of the telecom operators (Orange, T-Mobile, etc.) are providing IoT services to the clients and building IoT platforms for the same. This is an additional revenue stream related to data and insights.

Telecom engineering services opportunity:

Engineering service providers can focus on the key segments of telecom engineering as mentioned below.

  • New Product Development: Includes Design, Analysis, and Development of device, network, and equipment. For example, NPD in the Wireless segment includes Modem commercialization, HW/SW Design of Routers & Gateways, etc.
  • Product Sustenance: Involves Value Engineering, Variants & Customization, Sustenance, EOL Support. For example, sustenance services in LTE/5G Application areas are related to Radio Base Station, Radio Network Controllers, Call Processing, Platform, and Protocol Stacks.
  • Manufacturing Support: Includes Tool Design, Prototype Support, Shop floor Services for manufacturing of device/equipment/specific hardware components, etc.
  • Testing & Certifications: Includes testing related to device, equipment, protocol including RF, EMI, EMC Testing, Protocol Testing, Acceptance Testing, Field Trials.  Services are also provided for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/safety/Country specific certifications.
  • Product Support & Others: Technology support including Helpdesk, Tech Support (L3, L4) on a day-to-day basis. Also includes Technical Publication for various aspects of telecom engineering.

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