Analyst hot takes from MWC 2023: Telco industry finally pushing ahead with cloud and developer initiatives

Analyst hot takes from MWC 2023: Telco industry finally pushing ahead with cloud and developer initiatives

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The telecommunications world is experiencing significant transformation, and this week’s gathering at MWC 2023 in Barcelona is providing attendees with a sense that the gears of change within a traditionally slow-moving industry are beginning to pick up speed.

“These big transformations almost take a perfect storm of things that come together,” said Zeus Kerravala (pictured, third from left), principal analyst at ZK Research. “It appears today that between cloudification, going into cloud native, software stacks, APIs and the ecosystem, I think we’re in a position to see this industry finally move forward.”

Kerravala spoke with theCUBE industry analyst Dave Vellante (second from left) at MWC 2023 during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. He was joined by Chris Lewis (far left), founder and managing director of Lewis Insight, and Sarbjeet Johal (far right), founder and chief executive officer of Stackpane, and they discussed how the telecommunications industry is adopting new approaches in a rapidly changing landscape. (* Disclosure below.)

A different attitude

The telcos’ embrace of new technologies in a cloud-centric world is also leading towards growth of a broader ecosystem. A steady drumbeat of announcements from MWC this week, including partnerships involving Google LLC, Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Dell Technologies Inc. and VMware Inc., provided evidence of a new approach to doing business.

“What has really changed is their attitude toward suppliers, their attitude toward their partners, and the attitude toward the ecosystem in which they play,” Lewis said. “The realization is they are not playing their own game anymore, it’s a much more open game.”

That open game will require buy-in from a key constituency: developers. If telcos are going to become advanced technology platforms in their own right, developers will have to find areas of interest and that will take a process of education, according to Johal.

“Telcos have been stuck to proprietary software and hardware for too long,” Johal said. “To put your technology out to practitioners, you have to educate them. That’s the only way to democratize your technology.”

Private 5G opportunity

A key market opportunity for the telco industry involves deployment of private 5G. One of the world’s biggest sporting events – the National Football League’s Super Bowl – has turned into a showcase for private 5G networks, led by Verizon Communications Inc.

“Private 5G is use case dependent,” Kerravala said. “Look at the work Verizon did in the Super Bowl this year. They brought a lot of 5G to the Super Bowl. They provided private connectivity for the coaches to talk to staff on the sidelines.”

Examples such as the Super Bowl highlight the potential market opportunities facing the telco world today. The central question at MWC this week is whether telcos are motivated to make the changes that will transform networks into full-fledged technology platforms.

“Fixed and mobile is a $1.6 trillion market so it’s not to be sniffed at,” Lewis said. “There’s a lot of APIs out there. Bringing all the different services together that will support us in our different lives is really important. I think telcos will do it, it’s in their interest to do it.”

Here’s the complete video discussion, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the MWC 2023 event:

(* Disclosure: This is an editorial segment. TheCUBE is a paid media partner for MWC 2023. Neither Dell, the primary sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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