Looking back at the last decade, it’s fairly easy to see some of the major changes in the world of telco, such as the sudden emergence of smartphones and the rapid dominance of digital streaming.

Both of these developments were seismic disruptions in the industry, ones that sparked corresponding changes in supporting telecommunications infrastructure and technology across the board.

While it likely won’t scale to widespread adoption until 2022 or later, 5G will surely lead the way for telco disruption in the next decade. Click To Tweet

Looking ahead, the next decade promises to be just as disruptive for the telco industry, if not more so. As technology advances and consumer expectations become more sophisticated, service providers and technicians will need to be proactive when it comes to adopting new innovations.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at some of the biggest tech trends that are sure to impact the telco industry in the coming decade.

5G changes everything

This is a no-brainer to add to this list, but it’s still necessary to call out. We’ve been talking about the impending arrival of 5G for several years now, and it’s finally here for some smartphones.

While it likely won’t scale to widespread adoption until 2022 or later, 5G will surely lead the way for telco disruption in the next decade. Once it begins to reach its full potential, 5G will reshape communications, networking, and cloud computing, thanks to its ultra-low latency and zero lag.

It also promises to unlock the full potential of the cloud by enabling edge computing, something that’s critical to the growth of the Internet of Things. With edge computing, local devices can be connected to the cloud but process some of their data locally in order to avoid lag.

AI enables predictive maintenance

As infrastructure grows more complex, cloud-based, and software-based, it will become more necessary to take advantage of AI and machine learning for predictive maintenance.

Once in place, AI algorithms can remotely monitor equipment and systems at a scale infinitely more efficient than a human workforce. AI can assess and predict failures based on a blend of historical patterns and active data, and either proactively address the issue in real-time or flag it for more in-depth investigation.

Service providers that want to control costs without impacting the customer experience will need to take note and invest heavily in AI monitoring technology.

Robotic automation picks up the pace

Automation is nothing new in the world of telco or any other tech-driven industry, but we can expect the pace of usage to pick up over the next decade. Why? As 5G becomes more viable and widespread, and as AI becomes more sophisticated, more rules-based processes can be safely handed over to Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Studies have already shown that when telcos use RPA, efficiency climbs as errors and costs are significantly reduced. Over the course of the next several years, expect RPA adoption to grow more mainstream thanks to its easy scalability and potential for greater efficiency.