Telecoms can no longer be only about letting you choose a plan for your smartphone. To survive on the market, carriers are adapting to new political, technological and strategic circumstances.

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Although US telecoms no longer have a large uncommitted audience theypreviously had to win, the industry hasn’t come to a standstill. In fact, The World Bank reports the number of mobile cellular, Internet and fixed broadband subscribers to have been steadily growing up all these years.

Throughout 2016, US telecom market has produced $285 billion, Statista says, with the top-performing players AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint maintaining their revenues. So from the look of it, US telecom providers skillfully hold the fort and gradually advance at the same time by under taking canny survival strategies and following the principles such as those below.

Benefit from mergers

Mergers are a gamble – they can help industries thrive or make the best companies sink like stones. According to Financial Times,now that Federal Communication Commission(FCC)is under the new Chairman, telecom mergers can become a common practice. A less dense market with a smaller amount of players are heavily believed to increase the industry’s overall revenue.

Verizon,the US leader in both 4G and 2G-3G coverage,is definitely taking the best out of this situation to augment its influence. It has not only set out to acquire Yahoo! Inc. already, but also declared their planned acquisition of XO Communications Inc.

Another potential merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is suggested by JP Morgan, although in the last 3 years since the merger attempt, T-Mobile managed to gain momentum. Apart from attaining the same advantage that Sprint had over its 2G and 3G coverage in across-the-state 4G network density, T-Mobile launched the Un-carrier campaign that attracted 15.6 million subscribers throughout 2016(while Sprint lost 5.4 million over the same year).

As ofQ4 2016, AT&T has31.1million users, Verizon – 26.4 million,T-Mobile –71.5 million, and Sprint – 59.5 million. If T-Mobile and Sprint merge, they will vie for the second place on the market with Verizon. Verizon knows that, and reasonably takes action in advance, teaming up with other companies that could potentially improve its services.

Snooze and you loose

Multiple sources agree that in order to keep a tight lid on their existing subscribers, telecom providers should go step for step with the evolving technologies.In their turn telecoms believe they should be a couple steps ahead. As it transpired during the recent MWC event, technologies may be far off in the future, but it’s important to start talking about them today.

Verizon is yet again vigorous in this regard. Despite 5G wireless network not being officially standard ized and expected to come into common use only in 2020, Verizon didn’t have second thoughts before announcing their 5G services deployment plans. AT&T and T-Mobile rushed to test 5G wireless standards too, but Verizon is already being referred to as the first telecom company in the world to welcome 5G, so it has secured its leadership position for now.

Expand the habitat

The wireless connection provided by most carriers is already fast enough for people to enjoy online video on their mobile devices. With 5G to soon ensure1 Gb/sec speed (which is 200 times the speed of 4G LTE)the Internet of Things horizons are extending dramatically, and telecoms have to try new waters.

Stadiumsare already something that carriers have experience with, as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprintall have their own sport arenas. The carriers’ main objective in these facilities is to provide excellent connection to thousands of people. ‘Excellent’ means letting everyone stream the event from their mobile devices. Upgrades and improvements of the stadiums’ connection is a constantly ongoing process for all the four carriers.

Together with car manufacturers, telecoms are still trying to figure out the cooperation strategy. To get a car connected, one should subscribe for a plan, and as statistic show, few people are willing to do that. So it’s logical that telecoms are thinking of integrating processes with car makers at earlier production stages.

Additionally, as Deloitte researchers report, in 2017 telecoms plan to catch up with bio metrics and machine learning, which can enhance security as well as increase the proactivity of virtual assistants. While bio metrics(that is facial recognition and fingerprint scanners)are ‘perfect locks’ that allow only the original user interact with their devices, neural networks in machine learning make logical assumptions based on the collected data.By paying attention to these technologies, telecoms can increase IoT service and who knows, maybe develop their own AI assistants in the future.

End note

Telecoms do not have cheap initial unlimited data plans anymore, as those made economic sense in the pre-smartphone era only. What they still have unlimited though, is the prospects for future cross-industrial integrations and investments in mobile development, entertainment and car manufacturing. With the entire material world slowly turning into the ‘Things for Internet’, getting mobile devices connected is the first priority, so there’s still a lot of important and hard work for telecoms to do.