Let us start by defining the very word “unexpected” so we can presuppose the true nature of the challenges we are about to explore.
When we say something was unexpected, we mean it was unforeseen, surprising and it seems to come from nowhere. The Latin root is expected are – “await, look out for, desire, or hope.”
We can all agree that in business, challenges are pretty much expected. Habitual, even. Sometimes, you can spot them from far away, if you can only recognize warning signs. In those cases, you can somewhat prepare for what is coming your way.
But, when it comes to the challenges you never saw coming, you simply can’t do anything about it. And that is very frustrating. And we are talking here about those that sound like they come right from the SF movie. Allow us to introduce you to some rather unbelieving ones.
SOLAR OR GEOMAGNETIC STORM
The surprises of nature and the universe are increasingly common. For example, a geomagnetic storm (commonly referred to as a solar storm) is a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere caused by a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of the magnetic field that interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field. These storms can cause telecommunications failures.
But, how? – You might wonder…
Well, first of all, the increase in solar wind pressure compresses the magnetosphere. Then the magnetic fields of the solar wind and the Earth interact transferring energy to the magnetosphere.
The entire process is divided into three phases:
- The solar eruption occurs on the surface of the sun, as a result of the magnetic reconnection
- For approximately 8 minutes, the release of electromagnetic radiation (from gamma rays to radio waves) collides with the Earth
- Coronal mass ejection arises and it can cause damage to satellites, electrical transformers, and telecommunications.
This phenomenon could alter the radio signals trajectory, creating errors in the information provided by GPS Technological systems, and leading to major failures. This means that it is very possible that satellite communications could be affected for a certain (unknown) period.
Absolutely any data transmission device located in space is vulnerable to these storms. Leaving us, the citizens of the planet Earth vulnerable and exposed, too.
REGULATORY FRAMEWORK CHANGES
Ok, this is not remotely similar to the science fiction scenario the storm mentioned above brings. However, it is still pretty serious. The fast-developing digitization and need for networking have led to increased government intervention and quite a few new policies.
When you take into account factors like constantly changing political, social, and economic environments – the future of all industry players is at stake.
Therefore, every participant in the telco industry should and must be prepared for any possible regulatory changes or a new political regime’s impact on their economic environment.
For regulatory reforms to be beneficial, the regulatory regimes need to be transparent, logical, and comprehensive. They also must span from constituting the appropriate institutional framework to liberalizing network industries – meaning that they should be advocating and enforcing competition policy and law while opening external and internal markets to trade and investment.
Let’s just hope that the governments will recognize the importance of electronic commerce and new communication technologies and services for the economy, and will act accordingly. The acceleration of new technologies and services presents both opportunities and challenges for regulators.
New forms of regulatory co-operation across industries and the globe are the only safe way to ensure that the positive dimensions of the new ICT ecosystem are enjoyed by consumers, as all they want is a good service and protection against the negative potential of the telco industry.
Basically, the challenge is to maximize the benefits of the new ICT ecosystem while securing optimal policy and regulatory objectives designed to address any negative consequence of a changing landscape (the abuse of market power or consumer rights and the lack of development of local content production).
Intending to create a market-based cellular ecosystem, auctioning away portions of the electromagnetic spectrum to the highest bidder has become a reality some 3 decades ago. Before 1993, the spectrum was allocated by lottery! It is a process in which a government uses an auction system to sell the rights to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and to assign scarce spectrum resources.
For example, mobile network operators like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile—are purchasing licensed radio bands (aka “spectrum”) for commercial use.
Besides MNOs, hundreds of other entities submit bids for licensed spectrum – for example, telephone cooperatives, television stations, paging companies, private equity firms, inventors/patent holders, real estate firms, trust funds, physicians, and many others.
The auction approach is created in order to award the licenses to those who will use them most effectively.
Do the Auctions Impact Wireless?
In the last couple of years, all the auctions were intended to repurpose the “Goldilocks” (mid-band) spectrum previously used by satellite operators to MNOs for 5G use. Since mobile usage continues to escalate, more spectrum is needed to meet consumers’ demands for both data speed and capacity.
FCC announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the US will hold a 5G auction for the 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum this July! No matter that 6G is still years away from real-world deployment, the importance of paving the way for both 5G and 6G remains the same.
CYBER SECURITY ISSUES
We all love the internet. We love even more the fact that the cloud exists. However, we must stop there for a second and be honest about it. One of the gravest threats that lurk from the Internet is exactly the connectivity of cloud-based networks and the high amount of personal data available on the internet. This all led to increased cyber-threats and the need for cyber-security.
The entire world is connected 24/7. For that reason, the entire telco infrastructure simply must be
The telecommunication industry is vital as it keeps the world connected 24/7 – be it business or private communication, telecom has become a vital part of our daily lives. That is why telecom infrastructure needs to be protected and resilient against cyber security threats (which, if we may add, become more and more complicated and exponential).
For example, one of the greater challenges for telecommunication and internet service providers (ISPs) is IoT network security – threats like DDoS attacks, Network congestion, RFID interference, Routing, and Sybil attacks… Also, SIP or Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) hacking is the most common cybersecurity threat in Voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. Or DNS Attacks or Domain Name Security – in last year, 79% of the companies faced DNS attacks… The list goes on and it does not look good.
However, with adequate online privacy and security tools such as VPN, companies and “civilians” could somewhat find protection against cybercriminals – considering emerging technologies such as 5G, IoT, and more.
This one is exciting. Nevertheless, not quite a staying-home-watching-an-avalanche-movie kind of excitement. The concept of force majeure in business and contracts originated in the Napoleonic Code. In common law, evolving from one of “physical impossibility” to “frustration of purpose” to “commercial impracticability”.
Many international business agreements have force majeure clauses. These clauses “excuse a party from performance if some unforeseen event beyond its control prevents performance of its contractual obligations”. Neat, right? But, more recently, this issue makes us question whether a force majeure is just a fig leaf for naked greed?
INEVITABLE IOT AND 5G
When it comes to logistics of upgrading hardware to match customers’ expectations, and all while keeping pace with new telecom innovations nowadays is becoming progressively challenging.
As 5G has the role of being an enabler of the digitization of society and the economy, what we are about to witness is increased transmission speed, a much broader spectrum of uses, and a much greater diversity of users.
5G is targeting a wide variety of sectors, which will not necessarily have anything other than this technology in common, but which are central pillars in a society: energy, healthcare, media, industry, and transportation.
This brings many changes, but challenges as well. 5G is a rather versatile technology. It is capable of undergirding a wide array of uses and could speed up the process of further companies’ transition to digital technologies and solutions.
A sizable increase in data traffic will force changes in technology – the use of current millimeter-wave frequencies with weak propagation capabilities will no longer be enough. The widespread deployment of low-power base stations (small cells) is a big step for any organization and requires enormous effort and investment.
Another problem we may and will face is that the 5G antenna will probably be larger (in the m 2 range for some) than the current 2G, 3G, or 4G antennae, due to a massive MIMO processing that will require the use of a very large number of radiating elements. Moreover, additional antennas compatible with new 5G bands will no doubt also need to be deployed. So, yes, we are all looking forward to 5G becoming a regular “thing”, but we also face many, many, many, and we really mean many unprecedented challenges that require thinking in new ways to meet mission-critical requirements.
There are literally billions of devices out there in the world. This means that the congestion in the radio channels is a problem that will only get worse. A device operating in the presence of other signals is a challenge that potentially can be a matter of life and death.
For example, if the radio formats don’t detect each other, collisions and data losses might occur. The proportions of this could be catastrophic. Just think of it, the industrial sensor that loses the control signal or a medical infusion pump that stops working… Now, that is what we call the unexpected challenge that needs to be sorted out ASAP. The maintaining wireless performance potential risk gets even bigger in the presence of unintended signals found in the same operating environment. A disaster waiting to happen, nothing less.
Ok, we know we scared you. But, just like you can’t predict or hide from a sudden earthquake, you still go out every day and live your life – you need to keep coming to work and manage your organization. Everything you actually can do is just watch out for any trouble and try to have a crisis plan, sticking to it.