4 May – 17 May 2023, National Harbor, Maryland. The International Telecoms Week is the world's largest gathering of global executives from across the telecoms and Digital Infrastructure ecosystem. This year, Over 1,800 companies attended ITW 2023, covering every arm of global telecoms and digital infrastructure, creating a one-stop shop for your global connectivity needs. 

As the ICT infrastructure industry's biggest annual meeting, ITW 2023 allowed both the new players on the block and established companies to convene and discuss pressing issues that face the digital world. 

In this article, we present our team's notes from the insightful discussions held at the week-long event, where Rakesh Sharma, Head of Sales and Business Development US, and Steve Yazell, Director of Sales in conversations with industry leaders. With over 55% of attendees being influential decision-makers at the director level, representing businesses driving ICT infrastructure forward, the event featured engaging sessions led by 120 speakers.

On High-Interest Rates and Cutting Costs

Real interest rates are shooting up recently as monetary policies tighten up in response to higher inflation. Whether this uptick is temporary remains to be seen. With the lifted threat caused by a pandemic and as emerging market economies adopt more advanced technology, total factor productivity growth is expected to converge to the pace of advanced economies. And when economies grow, so does the rate of everyone’s interest.

The impact of higher interest rates on telecom investment has a direct impact on the borrowing costs and financing for field services and tech industry players. As a result, telecom companies have been closely evaluating their operating costs and exploring ways to optimize their use of funds.

One strategy that has been discussed is reducing the cost per pass through supply chain optimization. Telecom companies are looking for ways to streamline their supply chain processes, negotiate better deals with suppliers, and minimize wastage or inefficiencies in their operations,” shares Rakesh Sharma. “By optimizing the supply chain, companies can reduce costs and improve their overall financial performance,” he continues.

The telecom industry is actively seeking ways to optimize its use of funds and mitigate the potential impact of higher interest rates. By focusing on cost reduction, labor efficiency, and minimizing delays, industry players aim to improve their financial performance and make strategic investments that yield positive returns.

Hence, another strategy is increasing labor efficiency by hiring personnel with multiple skill sets,” Rakesh adds. Telecom companies are recognizing the value of cross-functional employees who can handle various tasks and responsibilities. By having employees with diverse skill sets, companies can optimize their workforce and potentially reduce the need for outsourcing or hiring additional personnel. This strategy aims to improve productivity and control labor costs.”

Minimizing delays is also a key focus for industry players. 

Here at Zinier, we are aware that delays in project implementation or service delivery can result in financial losses and customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, taking steps to identify and address bottlenecks in the processes, improve project management practices, and enhance coordination between different teams or departments can ensure the timely completion of projects and the optimization of company resources. 

That is why our Productivity Suite is head and shoulders above the competition in terms of better field execution. Our solutions elevate the performance of your entire field service operation to a point where delays are not welcomed. Our approach is to enable the key people in your field service universe – back office personnel, field technicians, and customers – to be more efficient, and better connected, and to maximize their collective success. 

On Fiber Evolution and TelCo Automation

The core message of International Telecommunications Week is the importance of making new investments in the telecom sector while strategies are being implemented. 

However, the due diligence process has become more rigorous. Telecom companies are carefully evaluating potential investments, conducting thorough assessments of financial viability, market demand, and competitive landscape. The goal is to make informed investment decisions that align with the company's financial goals while taking minimum risks.

The improvement of interconnection strategies between carriers is indeed crucial, especially when it comes to time to market and automation,” Steve Yazelle explains. “As the telecom industry continues to evolve and expand, efficient interconnection processes are essential for enabling seamless communication and service delivery,” he adds.

In the wholesale carrier business, the demand for increased fiber and bandwidth is driven by the growing needs of hyperscalers and data centers. These entities require robust and reliable connectivity to support their operations and meet the ever-increasing demands of cloud computing, big data, and other data-intensive applications. As a result, wholesale carriers play a crucial role in providing the necessary infrastructure to meet these demands.

On the other end of the spectrum, an international increase in Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployments further underscores the importance of interconnection and infrastructure expansion. FTTH deployments involve extending high-speed fiber optic connections directly to residential homes, enabling faster and more reliable internet access. 

To support such deployments, interconnection between carriers becomes crucial for ensuring seamless connectivity and the efficient transfer of data across different networks,”  Steve emphasizes. The wholesale carrier business is driven by the demand for increased fiber and bandwidth to enable hyperscalers and data centers. With the international increase in FTTH deployments, interconnection and infrastructure expansion become even more critical.”

Improving interconnection strategies and expanding infrastructure means investing in advanced networking technologies, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), to automate and streamline interconnection processes. Automation can significantly reduce the time to market for new services and improve operational efficiency.

Furthermore, collaboration and partnerships between carriers are vital for successful interconnection. By establishing mutually beneficial agreements, carriers can leverage each other's networks, infrastructure, and expertise to provide broader coverage and better service quality to end-users ultimately driving the advancement of the telecom industry as a whole.

On Rural Expansions and Labor Shortages

Governments worldwide are recognizing the importance of connectivity, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, and are investing in initiatives to improve access to telecommunications services. These initiatives create opportunities for upstart telecom companies to serve these underserved regions and contribute to bridging the digital divide.

By expanding connectivity in these areas, governments aim to enhance economic development, improve access to education and healthcare, and promote overall social inclusion. This presents a favorable environment for new telecom companies to enter the market and provide services tailored to the specific needs of these communities.

However, it's worth noting that the labor shortage is now affecting the entire field service management chain in the telecom industry. This shortage encompasses technical roles, such as network technicians and engineers, as well as management positions. The scarcity of skilled personnel poses challenges for telecom companies, as they need a competent workforce to deploy, maintain, and manage their networks effectively.

To address the labor shortage, telecom companies are adopting several strategies. One approach is investing in training and development programs to upskill existing employees or re-skill individuals from related fields. By providing training opportunities, companies can expand their talent pool and ensure a skilled workforce that can meet the demands of field service management.

Additionally, telecom companies are exploring partnerships and collaborations with educational institutions, trade organizations, and government agencies to address the labor shortage collectively. Such collaborations can facilitate the development of training programs, internships, and apprenticeships, which can help attract and nurture new talent in the telecom industry.

Another strategy is leveraging technology and automation to optimize field service operations. By implementing advanced field service management systems and utilizing automation and system integrations, companies can streamline processes, improve efficiency, and reduce the dependence on manual labor. Zinier’s Fiber to the Premises can streamline your operations while providing every customer with the necessary connectivity for work, school, and play. Meanwhile, our Manufacturing Assets efficiently manage and maintain manufacturing assets deployed at your customer facilities. We tie all loose ends and make sure that when we say streamline, we mean absolutely no breaks in the process.

ITW 2023’s message is complex but quite direct: by investing in training, embracing technology, and fostering collaborations, telecom companies can navigate these challenges and ensure a skilled workforce to support their operations and expansion. 

And that’s exactly what we do–let us tell you how.

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