We continue our look at what this year has in store for the telco industry as a whole, and for OSP and broadband install and repair teams across North America in particular. There’s a lot of bandwidth to cover, so let’s plug in and get started.

Sensor Sensibility

According to the research and technology firm ON World, the market for wireless sensor network (WSN) products—think smart appliances, thermostats, security and safety sensors, and lighting controls— will have global annual revenues of $25.8 billion this year. That’s one great big Internet of Things!

By 2018, WSN device shipments are projected to surpass 930 million units. With demand for whole home system integration growing, home automation and control applications will account for more than half that number. Naturally, this translates into greater demand for broadband to keep all those devices going, which should keep installers and service providers alike busy for the foreseeable future.

For networks that include a number of legacy devices, the challenge for 2015 and beyond will be to get everything connected without having to replace the entire network infrastructure. Installers will need a variety of solutions to accommodate their client’s specific needs.

Intel recently introduced intelligent IoT gateways designed to do just that across a broad spectrum of industrial, energy, and transportation applications: these gateways collect sensor data and then analyze and normalize that data for sharing through the network and on the cloud.

DIY Networks

In a recent OSP Magazine article, Ericsson director Ernie Gallo noted that, “Services are undergoing major changes in the areas of customer personalization and control, causing major impacts to operations and billing systems.” Citing AT&T’s Domain 2.0 as a prime example, Gallo suggested more and more customers want to control network elements themselves, and customize and configure their services without having to go through their service providers.

AT&T’s John Donovan announced in December that the company intends to step up its transition to software-defined networking (SDN) this year. The goal is to control more than 75% of its network using SDN by 2020. Toward that end, AT&T’s Network on Demand service enables companies to order, add, or change services on their own in near real time, giving them the ability to dial broadband speeds up or down in response to traffic, and to supply new communications ports in days as opposed to weeks.

As Gallo noted, companies will have to embrace the idea that giving more power to customers is the future, or risk losing market share.

Sprint Weighs in on Title II

In a meeting slated for February 26, the Federal Communications Commission may vote to reclassify fixed and mobile broadband in the U.S. as common carrier services, which can be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act. Title II has long been applied to the wireline telephone market.

On January 15, Sprint’s chief technology officer, Stephen Bye, wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler indicating that the company is not opposed to the possible change: “Sprint does not believe that a light touch application of Title II … would harm the continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband services.”

For broadband ISPs looking to expand their fiber networks—and for those in the business of actually installing all that fiber —Title II could be very good for business: if the FCC starts treating them as telecommunications services, outfits such as Google Fiber could gain access to poles and other infrastructure owned by utilities.