The Top 10 Telecom Stories of 2013 (Part 1)

By all accounts, it’s been a record-breaking year in telecom.  More fiber, more data, more streaming, more innovation, in more places. As we reflect on the highs and lows of the past 365ish days, here are the storylines that rose above the fray and that we believe have the potential to significantly impact the trajectory of our industry over the next several years (and, in some cases, decades), in no particular order …

1. Net Neutrality

Many are focused on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the US as it considers an appeal of the FCCs net neutrality rules.  The economic and social impact of the Internet rivals that of almost any of mankind’s inventions.  It seems certain that the future potential of the Internet is near limitless, provided it remains free and open.   Net neutrality helps protect a free and open Internet by setting guardrails for how ISPs deliver Internet traffic.  Among other things, net neutrality forbids unreasonable discrimination – favoring some content over other content, including by charging fees to some, but not other content providers.  The net neutrality rules are important, particularly if the Internet of the future is to be as powerful as it has been in the past.  Thankfully, there are several paths to reinstate and even improve the net neutrality rules, regardless of the Court’s decision.

2. Government Monitoring

This was the year in which revelation upon revelation came to light about the extent to which governments are monitoring Internet traffic both domestically and abroad. What are the implications for the Internet community long-term? How will this change the way data is gathered, stored and access? Only time will tell for sure, but as more and more objects come online (think Internet of Things), we can expect that consumer privacy will be defined in markedly different terms than it is today.

3. Africa’s Rise

Africa has already embraced the mobile phone. And now, as the necessary infrastructure is making its way onto the continent, they are poised to embrace the Internet.  Governments have begun implementing strategic plans to make broadband ubiquitous and entrepreneurs are already taking advantage of increased connectivity.  All this has led to an Africa that is set to triple its Internet penetration by 2025 and grow its smartphone subscriber base sixfold.  Of course, the implication for both enterprises and African residents is beyond compelling; bringing unheard-of economic growth to a populace that is already teaching the rest of the world how to do mCommerce the right way. Be ready. Silicon Savannah is ready to keep pace with Silicon Valley

4. Big Data Doesn’t Mean Big Info

As has been stated countless times in countless places: Big data is here.  In the run-up to this year, much was made about the big data revolution providing enterprises with deep analytics and insights into the who, what, when, where, why of how their target audience engaged with their brand. However, this year, enterprises began to question the value of big data given the challenges faced in actually accessing and analyzing it. And, who really owns all that data anyway (especially as it relates to social media activity)? Many are beginning to recognize that in order to derive any real benefit from big data, they may need to first make a big investment in their infrastructure.

5. Buffet Style Media Consumption

Things are changing. Disillusioned by the traditional media consumption model – most evident in the relationship with one’s cable provider – many consumers have begun to turn to online platforms to pick and choose what they want to consume. Many are opting to turn off their TV altogether, instead looking to less expensive a la carte video platforms like YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix to decide exactly what they want to watch – and on their own terms. Some cable providers, recognizing this shift, have begun to change up their product offers in the hopes of capitalizing on this trend. From where I sit, what we’re seeing is only the beginning. Anticipate that this approach to media consumption will soon spill over into how we choose our mobile phone, among other things.

Stay tuned for more! We’ll reveal the other half of our list tomorrow. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

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