Booming, not bleak!

Booming, not bleak!

James Heard of Level 3
James Heard of Level 3

James Heard of Level 3 says the outlook for the telco sector in 2012 is far from bleak.

Reports in the media during late 2011 suggest that the European telecommunications industry faces a challenging 2012. A Financial Times editorial in December suggested the sector is ‘lumbering, querulous, and struggling to make progress’ and that 2012 would be a year of decline for the sector.

However, James Heard of Level 3 says that while our industry, along with many others, faced a number of challenges in 2011 relating to the economy, he would argue that 2012 could be a year of great opportunity for our industry and our channel partners.

“In the UK alone, major international events and mainstream technological advances all present a mouth-watering array of opportunities for the channel and the telecommunications industry to collaborate on in order to prove the naysayers wrong. However, it will have to be a team effort.

“As we warm up for the 2012 Olympics, corporate networks, as well as athletes, need to ensure they are ready to be truly tested. The Government’s recommendation that London businesses maintain continuity during events

such as the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee by allowing employees to work from home is fine, but how many enterprises have thought about the implications of a sudden spike in VPN use let alone all the streaming of events that their corporate networks will have to handle? Ensuring that Government and businesses can continue during the Olympics represents an exciting challenge to our sector and channel partners.

“Technological advances will continue to present networking challenges to public and private sector organisations. Cloud computing is one of several ‘big bets’ CIOs will be looking at in 2012. But with this development comes the challenge of networks becoming the most important, but also most vulnerable, aspect of ICT infrastructure. 2012 will see organisations needing more guidance from the industry and the channel on how to ensure consistent connectivity to maximise the benefits offered by technological advances such as cloud computing.

“Other advances include the inevitable move to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). As IPv4 addresses rapidly run out, CIOs will be looking for guidance and consultancy from the telecommunications sector and its partners regarding the benefits IPv6 can bring to ensure they feel comfortable with the steps and costs involved with making the transition and necessary network upgrades.

“However, it is not just enterprises which present an opportunity for our sector and partners. Increasing consumer demand for data-hungry products and applications including video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Apple’s IPTV will place increased strain on fixed line carrier networks. These will need upgrades and improvements in 2012 if they are to cope with the demands which will be placed on them and to avoid servicerelated penalties.

“The Government will continue to take significant IT-related steps in 2012. The Public Services Network (PSN) is a new single voice and data network spanning central and local government departments. This has been described as the most significant change to Government IT infrastructure for 15 years. However, local authorities should be encouraged to work with PSN-accredited suppliers and will need help from their IT partners to identify them as well as support to build the case internally, and to taxpayers, for migrating to the PSN at a time when budgets are under pressure.

“There is no doubt that as the global economy drags itself towards recovery, 2012 will be a challenging year for organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. However, these same organisations will still need to ensure their networks are secure, able to handle increasing amounts of data securely and are ready to embrace new technological advances.

“As a sector, and for our channel partners, the biggest challenge and opportunity in 2012 lies in the fact that our customers will be under more pressure than ever before to strike the balance between supporting the adoption of new technologies such as cloud computing, whilst demonstrating the value of continued network and telecommunications infrastructure investment.

“To do this, they will need our support, consultancy and partnership not continued upselling and renegotiation of existing contracts. Collectively, we need to look at cementing long-term relationships by working closer together, sharing leads when we know we do not have the necessary expertise and ensuring customers realise they are being put first.

“I have highlighted just a handful of the opportunities that 2012 has to offer but I believe they demonstrate that the telecommunications sector and its partners have a very promising twelve months ahead. By collaborating more closely, I firmly believe we can collectively prove the naysayers wrong and ensure that we are all able to capitalise on all that 2012 has to offer.”