2020 has been a challenging year for the entire world. Between the pandemic, shutdowns, wildfires and other natural disasters, most of us will look forward to a new year in 2021. Here are a few light-hearted predictions plus some more thoughtful reflections on what’s to come in 2021 and the impact on service providers.
North Pole: After a brutal 2020 Christmas season navigating varying social distancing rules around the world, Santa Claus announced that for 2021, he too would have to go virtual and use 5G. “I can’t keep up with demand and the pace of millions of simultaneous deliveries all within a 24-hour period. The traffic volume keeps going up. I need the speed, security, network performance and massive connection rates that only 5G can give. Most kids don’t want physical toys anymore – everything is online and virtual. I have created new streaming “toy experiences” and “unboxings” that most kids will love. For those that still want a physical toy, using 5G converged with fixed access, I can reach even remote and rural locations quickly.”
Santa is the latest service provider to respond to the pandemic-induced traffic surge for online and virtual services as people work, play and learn at home. Service providers of all types – cable operators, ISPs, mobile operators and others have had to scramble during 2020 to augment capacity to suburban and rural locations and meet the higher demand for streaming and other services.
Amidst growing pressure from privacy advocates, regulatory threats and public relations missteps, critics of Facebook are demanding that the company accept regulatory-enacted privacy rules similar to GDPR in Europe. Massive increases in security threats, weaponized COVID-19 fears plus the burden of overseeing huge mis-information postings will cause Facebook to totally rethink its business model and offer enhanced subscription services, free from advertising.
After almost a year of “shelter in place” and vaccines becoming globally available, governments in the U.S. and elsewhere are ordering people to get out of their houses and mingle with the rest of the world. It seems many people have forgotten what it’s like to have regular social interaction or to travel beyond the confines of their own neighborhood. “You mean you can eat a meal INSIDE the restaurant,” asked one confused person who was interviewed?
Seriously though, we predict the pandemic response in 2020 will have a lasting impact on how and where consumers and businesses will use networks services, how service providers will build out their networks and where they will invest in additional capacity.
Here’s a few more serious predictions for 2021 for service providers:
The pandemic will erase years of resistance by late adopters, social institutions and businesses that previously hadn’t bought into the “digital transformation” argument. Forced to go “online or die” individuals and businesses have learned new skills, overcome technology limitations and forged new business models during 2020. These will continue in 2021 and will accelerate many technology transitions that service providers are conducting.
Hovering right around 33 percent for most of the year, according to Google, IPv6 will be used in more than 50 percent of Google searches globally. Boosted by the growth of 5G devices and networks, and increased pressure on CISOs to upgrade enterprise networks for strong network security, many enterprise and websites will accelerate their eventual conversion to IPv6 in 2021. However, many other ISPs, content providers and retailers, hard-hit by pandemic shutdowns, have web sites that are still IPv4 only and will remain unable to fund a conversion of their IT infrastructure. CGNAT can help extend their investment.
The abrupt conversion of in-classroom learning to remote during the pandemic, will encourage elementary, secondary and higher education to offer online options to traditional in-classroom on a regular basis. This will expand education during illness, during period of inclement weather (“snow days”) and other situations where a more flexible arrangement would be beneficial.
Service providers will have to re-architect their access networks to accommodate the traffic shift from dense urban areas to suburban as work/play/learn at home continues, post-pandemic. Edge computing is forecast by IDC to exceed 50 percent of new infrastructure deployments by 2023 and identified by nearly all mobile operators as extremely important to future networks.
Lifestyles will be permanently altered by the pandemic and many will not want to return to commutes and less flexible working conditions. Remote work will become a new, acceptable alternative in many industries. The recent announcements by Tesla and Oracle to move corporate headquarters from tech talent-rich Silicon Valley in CA to Texas demonstrates a new trend. This will ultimately impact real estate, mass transportation plans and other social institutions that assume large-scale commutes to a few valuable job destinations. This shift will give a boost to distributed edge networks, cloud services and wireless that are less dependent upon centralized traffic aggregation.
That’s it for service providers….but here’s my final prediction:
The COVID-19 vaccine will be hugely effective, and the world will establish an international day of togetherness in 2021.
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