5 Predictions for the Future of Telecom in 2023

The telecom industry took some big steps forward in 2022–from 5G crossing the 50% deployment threshold to the much-needed expansion of broadband in rural areas. We’re in a golden era of innovation for telecom, and 2023 will add to the legacy. 

Looking at where the investments have been made, combined with a little reading of the tea leaves, here are five predictions for telecom’s promising 2023.

  1. AI Begins to Make Itself Truly Useful
    While AI has started to make its way into telecom through applications like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and chatbots, these are immature rules-based engines that have been applied as cost mitigation for customer service. It has worked for the telecom businesses but comes at a cost for consumers–we have all experienced the frustrating experience of an endless call center loop. This is because the underlying language models struggle in their abilities to handle the complexity of context in human dialogue–they can understand “I want to pay my bill,” but not “part of my bill is incorrect, please fix it.”

    With new large language models, like Open AI, the barrier to entry is now dramatically lower in 2023, opening the opportunity for any telecom (not just the big spenders) to allocate resources on building customized data models that can solve real, specific problems. Instead of AI simply extracting information from a customer to hand off to a customer service rep, we can see AI making account changes, solving connectivity issues, even searching for and implementing new plans for customers. Better data models will help AI make automation much more useful across the board. That being said…

  2. Augmentation Will Become a Bigger Buzzword than Automation
    We’ve become quite good at building automation into telecom processes and service, and deeper AI is definitely on the horizon. But people still want human interaction and true one-on-one personalization. Instead of automating absolutely everything with robots, telecom will see a rise in augmentation–using machine learning to provide humans with the exact right time to interact with another human, and with the right information. This will transform the brand, customer and employee experience. 

    However, this requires a fundamental change to our infrastructures so that our business and operations systems can “talk” to one another without getting lost in the conversation. Migrating to a cloud-based, modular and event-driven software architecture makes this possible by making information easily accessible and contextually relevant–essentially untangling a web of legacy systems and outdated models. 

  3. Investment in Fiber Will Increase, Creating Opportunities Everywhere
    A recent Deloitte Consulting analysis estimates that "...the United States requires an investment of $130–$150 billion in fiber infrastructure over the next five to seven years to adequately support broadband competition, rural coverage, and wireless densification." This will happen, spawning a new generation of start-up ISPs resulting in increased connectivity across the country, and new opportunities across the industry–from advancements in telecom software to power them, to entirely new use cases for telecom businesses and services. 

    Imagine that your power goes out at home while you're on vacation. The ubiquity and sheer speed of fiber means that a telecom service provider could likely send a text message to inform you of the outage while the power company is still scrambling to restore service. Faster access to more accurate weather models could have profound effects on rural populations and the farming industry. With instant access to an entire customer base and the ability to pass more complex, connected data telecoms have an opportunity to do much more than charge for mobile service or fix broken routers.

  4. Private 5G Network Growth Will Balloon (Then Recede)
    Over the last several years, private 5G networks have been hyped across the industry. That will likely continue into 2023 and perhaps even increase. It’s simple to understand–with the increased reliance on networks to pass critical information between an ever-increasing list of connected devices and services, businesses are seeing the value of owning their own networks and provisioning models to keep everything running smoothly. But sooner than later, as the demands of these private networks increase, the underlying infrastructure like billing and provisioning won’t be able to handle the load or the complexity. That’s because most of these private 5G networks are running on 4G pipes, and legacy operations and business systems. Eventually, the propagation of private 5G networks will recede until the software and systems used to support them are fully integrated with the network itself.

  5. U.S. Consumers Will Have 4 Networks to Choose From Instead of 3 
    While today we are limited to the big 3 of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, for the first time in 100 years, someone will have built a brand new network, at a lower price point. Look no further than DISH. They have made significant strides over the past year, as recent press coverage confirms, after several years of smart investments and calculated risks. And in a year when most Americans are going to be watching every dollar they spend, DISH’s new network will have a huge head start

Predictions for the future of telecom can be tricky. It’s a fast-moving industry in the middle of a true industrial revolution. It will be interesting to look back a year from now, to see how many of these predictions hold true. But one thing is certain–the telecom of 2023 will move quickly. Perhaps even unpredictably. 


The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.