A Look Back at 2021 and What to Expect in 2022

by Alan Percy, CMO @TelcoBridges

A look back at what our industry has accomplished in 2021, where our challenges remain, and what to expect in 2022.

The 5G Hype Cycle Spreads

You’d think from the commercials on television that the whole US has moved to high-speed 5G networks and you MUST update your mobile device to use this wildly fantastical new wireless network. But you would be wrong.  Much of what is being touted as 5G is actually 5Ge or even LTE+.    Is 5Ge better than 4G?  Yes, with improvements in managing congestion, a larger device capacity, and other enhancements, but temper your expectations until real millimeter-wave 5G comes to your neighborhood this next year.

[Update] AT&T and Verizon delay deployment of C-band infrastructure – see the article in Mobile World Live

The Virtual Meeting is here to stay

If there was a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be that millions of people have now become proficient in the art of the virtual meeting.  Those early days of teaching grandparents, co-workers and friends how to join a Zoom call are well behind us.  Count yourself as a true guru if you know how to schedule a call or have a paid account!

In this last two years, full-time working from home went from something that only freelancers and consultants did, to a widely adopted method for employees to remain productive during the pandemic.

Now the challenge is for employers to get their staff to return to the office.  What seemed like a temporary situation, has become a well-intrenched habit and is here to stay.

STIR/SHAKEN is finally here

Service providers rushed to either implement STIR/SHAKEN or register with the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database, filing for an extension.  Learn more at atis.org

Has STIR/SHAKEN made a significant impact on the incessant illegal robocalls?

The numbers tell a story – the folks at Transnexus track the frequency of robocalls on a monthly basis, showing a slight reduction in robocalls, with a significant increase in Attestation “C” – gateway calls.  The average consumer expected much more than a slight reduction.

Part of the problem is that STIR/SHAKEN is far from universal.  A quick look into the Robocall Mitigation Database shows that of the 2762 service providers listed, only 717 claim to have completed their STIR/SHAKEN implementation.  We have a long way to go before we can trust a call’s reported calling number and caller-ID.

Less Time for STIR/SHAKEN

The deadline for smaller service providers (with less than 100,000 subscriber lines) must implement STIR/SHAKEN has been shortened by a full year from June 30, 2023 to June 30,2022.  This will significantly accelerate migrations to VoIP and standardization of STIR/SHAKEN over TDM infrastructure.

Broadband for All

The COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of working and schooling from home and the broadband internet needed to do so.  According to the 2020 United States Census, 13.4% of the population does not have an internet subscription.

One side-effect of the stimulus packages was the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program helping households that are at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or that are participating in various aid programs.

What to Expect in 2021 ?

    • To meet the STIR/SHAKEN and Robocall mitigation mandates, many of the smaller and rural service providers are now looking at modernizing their networks, replacing older switches with software-based softswitches.   This should drive additional media gateway and SBC business.
    • As the large tandem and interconnect operators move away from TDM, watch for greater adoption of SIGTRAN as a replacement for legacy TDM SS7 circuits.
    • We’re starting to see more enforcement of TRACED Act regulations with Attorney’s General trying to figure out ways to monitor service providers that don’t follow the rules.  This should help discourage providers that “look the other way” when their subscribers generate illegal robocalls.  Watch for “network supervision” solutions in 2022.
    • As Zoom’s attempted acquisition of Five9s shows, hosted cloud CCaaS, UCaaS and CPaaS applications will continue to grow in adoption with mergers and acquisitions sure to follow.