2022 Has been a wild year for telecoms, from Elon Musk’s Starling satellite broadband being released, to ISDN exchanges and 3G networks starting to be switched off.
As we look forward to a new year, we’re going to explore some of the trends we expect to see continue into 2023.
1. Increased 5G Coverage Nationwide
Current 5G infrastructure is fairly limited in the UK, with coverage limited to cities and larger towns. Throughout 2022, the networks have been working tirelessly to rollout their 5G coverage to as many people as possible—each competing to offer super fast 5G speeds to more customers.
In 2023, we expect to see this race continue, and likely ‘heat up’. As more cell towers are upgraded to 5G, and the networks spend millions in improving their offering to customers, 5G will likely become the new norm for all but rural areas in 2023.
2. The First ISDN Exchanges Will Be Switched Off
The trend of telecoms over the past decade has been moving from traditional copper ISDN services to IP-based, fibre networks. This is largely due to Openreach’s commitment to switch off all traditional ISDN copper services by the end of 2025.
In 2023, Openreach will switch off the first two exchanges, Sailsbury and Mildenhall. This is a pilot scheme, aimed at testing the readiness of the network for the full switch off, and will involve migrating all of Mildenhall & Salisbury’s traditional ISDN copper lines over to IP-based fibre.
If the test goes well, then it is likely that Openreach will target more exchanges further down the line, possibly in the later half of 2023 or early 2024.
3. Businesses Moving to the Cloud
More businesses than ever are utilising the cloud for their telecoms. Hosted telephone systems have long been the dominant player in the telephone system world.
In 2023, we only expect this market to grow as more businesses move to the cloud. The need for home working in the times of COVID, and the move away from ISDN has accelerated the need for cloud based telecoms, and it’s unlikely to slow down, especially with people counting the pennies…
4. Spending rained in on telecom bills
It’s no secret that the economy is in a tight spot at the moment, with business rates up, corporation tax set to increase and inflation biting many companies. In 2023, we’d expect to see businesses tightening their budgets, raining in spending and trying to shore up finances due to uncertainty ahead.
Reducer reports that your business could reduce telecoms spending by an average of £364 a year, but we think that is likely to be much higher when you consider other factors such as broadband and mobiles.
If you’re looking to shave off telecoms costs in 2023, speak with our team today for honest, no obligation advice.
5. Better Satellite Broadband Coverage
In 2022, Starlink, the Low-Earth-Orbit satellite finally launched in the UK, offering low latency, high speed broadband to consumers and businesses alike.
Huge coverage has meant that Starlink has offered a reliable connection to events, construction sites, rural houses and off-grid living spaces. In 2023, we expect this upward trend to continue, with more coverage locations being offered and faster, higher bandwidth also available.
Another Government backed company called OneWeb also launched in 2022, and are expected to launch more satellites to improve their coverage in 2023.
6. ‘Incremental’ Mobile Phone Releases
Smartphone releases are no longer the big flashy thing that they once were. Nowadays, the manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Google are releasing new models with small, incremental upgrades.
With the exception of the Samsung Fold series, recent smartphones have been pretty lacklustre in updates in recent years; and our prediction is that 2023 will be no different. It’s likely that we’ll see small, incremental upgrades as manufactures improve on minor parts of their line up, while trying to maximise their profits at a time of harsh budgets for many.
7. 3G Networks Being Switched Off
Quite a big new trend is 3G networks being switched off. We’ve been made aware by the mobile networks that they are planning to phase out their 3G coverage.
Many of the networks such as Vodafone, have already announced that they’re switching their 3G networks off in 2023, although it will be very incrementally, as the networks won’t leave people without coverage in the areas where 4G is not as widely available.
Vodafone have announced their initial plan to switch off 3G in Basingstoke and Plymouth in February 2023. There is a chance that more 3G will be switched off in other cities.
EE have also announced plans to start switching off their 3G in 2024, likely with the same strategy as Vodafone, by starting with larger cities and locations with good 4G and 5G already in place.
Three have said they plan to start their switch off come the end of 2024, but again it is likely that larger cities and test sites could be switched off before then. Three claim they're spending up to £2m a day to increase their 4G and 5G availability to ensure the 3G switch off has minimal impact.
O2 have not yet announced switch off plans, but we would expect them to follow suit with announcements in 2023, likely with a target to begin switching off later this year or early in 2024.
8. Fewer ‘physical’ office phones
Over the last year, many people have moved back to office working, but many have continued to work from home. Employers are offering colleagues greater working flexibility, and that comes with the need to offer a telecoms solution to match.
Fewer and fewer businesses are opting for traditional office telephones. Although these do still have their place, and many businesses (like ourselves) still utilise them, businesses are more frequently turning to mobile and softphone apps.
These softphone apps turn your smartphone, laptop, computer or tablet into a desk phone, enabling you to make and receive calls, transfer, forward and hold as though you’re sat at a desk with a physical phone.
We expect to see this trend continue into 2023, with more businesses adopting flexible working, and allowing employees to choose where they work. These soft phone apps take the stress away from setting up a whole telephone system at home.
9. The ISDN Stop sell
This isn’t so much a trend, as a definite. In September 2023, BT and Openreach have announced a complete stop-sell on all new ISDN orders. This means that nobody will be able to order a new ISDN telephone line. At all.
BT and their network partners will not accept any new ISDN orders, which puts businesses that still use ISDN in a bit of a bind, as they won’t be able to scale their telecoms as their business grows. Adding new ISDN lines won’t be possible.
We speak to lots of businesses that still use ISDN, and always recommend they move to a VoIP or SIP solution, which does away with ISDN lines and replaces it with IP Voice technology—which is cheaper, better quality, more scalable and crucially; future proof.
Businesses that have ISDN installed at the moment will likely still be okay into 2023, but as we mentioned in point two, Openreach are starting to turn off ISDN on some exchanges. The stop sell is the first major move to the complete ISDN switch off and migration to IP.
We’re excited to see what 2023 brings for the telecoms world. As more technologies and solutions become available, our team work hard to ensure we keep up to date with the latest trends to enable us to offer competitive and future proof solutions to our customers.