When Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm poured cold water on the prospects of any real incentives to save telco fortunes in Europe, his timing might have been off.
While it is absolutely true that investment in 5G is hard – and getting harder – to justify, at the same time, European telcos are beginning to think differently about their business.
Two sectors seem to be bubbling to the top of the innovations list that might save telco fortunes. Healthcare is one, and drones, which is not exactly a sector, is the other.
Healthcare is a sector, or arena, often quoted as the perfect target for 5G applications. And while remote surgery will not save telco fortunes anytime soon (imagine buffering problems with the appendix in the jaws of the appendix removing tool), there are plenty of other, more ordinary applications that can potentially revolutionise healthcare.
BT has recently announced that healthcare is one of the sectors the company will be targeting, and the company has done great work in supporting the UK’s vaccine campaign, rolling out high-capacity networks to vaccine centres.
Healthcare solutions range from bed management to the ability for ambulances to change traffic lights and the quick and efficient updating of patients’ records on the way to the hospital.
Drones are here to stay and already in use in many areas. KPN is supporting its agriculture sector, using drones to manage pesticide application better. Other telcos, including BT in the UK, use drones to help assess and manage emergencies, from landslides to forest fires.
These two areas where there is the possibility to save telco fortunes are reasonably obvious, and, of course, there are others. 5G will bring its own opportunities, and gaming, for instance, is taking centre stage across some markets in SE Asia.
Ultimately, even against the gloomy background of Ekholm’s pronouncements, there will be sectors that will save telco fortunes. And the good news is that, finally, there genuinely does seem to be a change in telco thinking. Now, it seems that they are beginning to think ‘business first, technology second.’
And that change of outlook might be the real difference that will save telco fortunes.