Developing Telecoms annual survey of telecom trends in emerging markets is now complete. To undertake the survey we contacted senior executives at over 700 companies - vendors, network operators and mobile service providers - known to be active in emerging markets. The are some of the most informed people about telecoms in emerging markets. Most are based there or travel extensively and deal constantly with the issues facing network operators, integrators and users.
So what are the top telecoms trends for 2013 in emerging markets?
Trend 1: Mobile broadband & 4G-LTE roll out
industry experts are agreed that a proliferation of mobile broadband services will take place in emerging markets in 2013. Demand will be met by a rapid expansion of 3G and the widespread rollout 4G-LTE networks. 2013 will be the year that LTE goes mainstream in emerging markets.
LTE mobile networks will be used to deliver higher data capacity and speeds in urban areas to meet the explosion of demand for mobile voice and data from both business and personal users. In rural areas the higher capacity of LTE networks will enable MNOs to deliver greater coverage over wider areas more cost effectively.
The rapid increase in mobile broadband in 2013 will intensify the need to upgrade RF and microwave capacity. The trend for backhaul networks to migrate to all-IP architectures will strengthen.
The adoption of LTE will be rapid in emerging markets due to the relative lack of legacy network equipment compared to developed countries. The downside for vendors is that LTE will become the default network option for MNOs in 2013 according to many observers, losing any premium pricing advantage.
Trend 2: Smartphones
If a rapid expansion of mobile broadband is the effect, the cause is an explosion in the use of Smartphones and Smartphone-like Featurephones throughout emerging markets. Even in the most remote and poorest areas, people are aware that a mobile phone is not just about voice and SMS.
Affordable Android smartphones will become widespread in 2013 and the growing handset recycling industry will supply increasing numbers of refurbished high-end smartphones from developed countries.
Trend 3: Data explosion
Smartphones will spearhead a rapid increase in demand for data services. Business applications and services are tipped to be a major growth point, particularly video. In the personal data sector, while OTT providers such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are likely to be among the greatest beneficiaries initially, new services will be rapidly developed in emerging markets to meet specific local and regional market characteristics.
To meet this demand MNOs will accelerate the trend towards tiered pricing and PAYG data to increase affordability with low ARPU customers.
The explosion in data demand creates an M-commerce opportunity for emerging market MNOs. Their well established payment networks and highly developed mobile banking and finance services will enable them to generate increased revenues by partnering with CDNs, service and app providers in 2013.
Trend 4: Cloud
2013 will be the year cloud based services take off in emerging markets. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will rapidly adopt the cloud for applications and services such as storage, security and SaaS.
Trend 5: Network Optimisation and Management
In emerging markets more than anywhere else, managing the network more efficiently will be the top priority for operators. The trends emerging from this in 2013 are manifold: an increase in managed services agreements; network and infrastructure sharing (why stop at the tower?); green base stations go mainstream; increased use of data analytics to address churn; Wi-Fi offloading...
Trend 6: Africa
With both China and India experiencing a slowdown in growth, 2013 will be the year of Africa according to our respondents.
The increased availability of fibre will finally start to make an impact during 2013, and the development of the first cross-border fibre network in Africa will be significant in creating new opportunities and reducing the high cost of data.
Africa and the Middle East will also benefit from the deployment of a number of new satellite services targeting MNOs, to deliver affordable rural broadband in lower density population areas.
More than 50 detailed responses to this survey have been posted on the Developing Telecoms. These have now been visited over 15,000 times.Thank you to everyone who participated.