Emerging technologies and threats will shape the mobile market in 2024. Over the next 12 months, mobile network operators (MNOs) will have opportunities to deploy and enable new solutions, while facing pressure to protect their profits from fraudsters. It is an increasingly diverse landscape where the only constant is change.
5G rollouts are accelerating, Apple has committed to working with other operating systems on rich communications services (RCS), and artificial intelligence (AI) continues to play a growing role in network optimisation and the creation of new services. Voice and messaging are also evolving as omni-channel communications emerge as an enterprise necessity.
For MNOs, 2024 will be the year to explore these opportunities and enhance their security posture, as bad actors can be as innovative as any other organisation.
In this article, we will highlight some of the most important trends that will define the mobile market in 2024, and share insights into how MNOs can make the most of these growing opportunities.
Accelerating AI Adoption
AI will have an impact across offerings and operations. MNOs will increasingly deploy AI-based networking solutions that will support the optimisation of bandwidth consumption, load balancing across networks, as well as in anti-fraud solutions. Predictive network management will enable MNOs to ensure maximum uptime and go beyond ‘best effort’ when delivering services for consumers and enterprises. Patterns of voice and messaging fraud can be recognised and accurately blocked, increasing MNO profitability. AI will also be increasingly used in omni-channel communications with MNOs offering and using AI-based chatbots and virtual assistants to offer customers personalised experiences.
Artificially Inflated Traffic is on the Rise
According to the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA), fraud costs global telecom companies $38.95 billion in revenue losses a year. Artificially Inflated Traffic (AIT) is a type of Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS fraud that is contributing to these losses, and is a challenge that will continue to impact MNOs in 2024. AIT can take a variety of formats, and takes place when fraudsters generate fake traffic to create profit for themselves. This is usually achieved by deploying bots that request a one-time password (OTP), two factor authentication (2FA) code or a call back to a premium rate or ghost number. This process is repeated with thousands of numbers, which can cause millions of dollars in losses, impacting revenue, reputation and trust. MNOs have to proactively monitor, block and assess risk based on number ranges and behaviours.
2024 is Finally ‘The Year of RCS’
In November, Apple’s surprise announcement about the support of RCS on iPhones shows how quickly the mobile market can change. Its move towards greater interoperability signals that it will no longer operate as a separate ecosystem. According to TechCrunch, RCS has been rolled out to over 800 million users worldwide in recent years, with Apple adding more than 1.46 billion active iPhone users worldwide. Use cases for RCS have been growing over the years, with The Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) highlighting many of the opportunities to deploy RCS. MNOs will be able to make a business case for offering RCS with Apple on board.
After a decade of speculation, 2024 will be the year of RCS.
Mobile Goes Zero-Trust
Zero-Trust Architectures (ZTAs) will be increasingly deployed by MNOs in 2024, especially as enterprise adoption of 5G grows. Zero-Trust treats every transaction between systems, including network type, application, device and user identity, as malicious unless proven safe. A growing number of MNOs will be implementing a Zero-Trust approach into their SMS firewalls in 2024. This will automatically block known malicious URLs sent via SMS, while sending a strong warning for unverified links.
Zero-Trust combined with advanced firewalls will ensure MNOs can mitigate growing cyber threats and ensure data integrity and user privacy. As 5G services evolve, MNOs must rethink security in order to offer high-value and mission-critical solutions while building trust from customers.
Bringing Efficiency to Domestic SMS Traffic
Due to the increased reliance on mobile devices, managing domestic A2P, P2A and Person to Person (P2P) SMS traffic has become highly complex. MNOs are facing significant challenges in terms of categorising and monitoring these large volumes of traffic. In 2024, we can expect to see more MNOs taking the time and effort to streamline their domestic traffic management by partnering with experienced SMS aggregators. In turn, MNOs can run more efficient operations, optimise resources and pricing models, and enhance security to make the most of their network.
OTTs will Accelerate CPaaS Adoption
Over-the-Top (OTT) messaging will continue to experience growth in the next 12 months. Statista reported that almost 3.5 billion people now use at least one form of OTT messaging, with the most popular being WhatsApp, as well as other options including Viber and Telegram. While the rise of OTT may pose threats to MNOs’ SMS revenues, as users increasingly favour OTT messaging apps, there is an opportunity for MNOs to adapt and even benefit from this opportunity. By offering a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solution to enterprise customers, MNOs can benefit from additional revenue streams from OTT messages, as well as A2P SMS.
OTT messaging platforms can also leverage AI in terms of chatbots, for quick yet personalised interactions, transforming communications for a more efficient and profitable MNO business.
Modern Voice Solutions on the Rise
While the traditional voice market has seen a steady decline recent years, and there are still plenty of opportunities for MNOs to generate substantial revenues from offering modern voice services. 2024 will see more MNOs adapt their voice offerings to serve new demands, for example by selling wholesale voice traffic to Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) platforms. Programmable voice is another solution set to rise, whereby calls can be made and received through API software. A voice API connects internet-based applications to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). A number of voice operations are available depending on the app, such as audio conferencing and call recording, and operators can monetise these APIs each time a phone call is made. With a broader range of voice and messaging solutions on offer, it will be more important than ever for MNOs to protect their telecommunications networks from fraudsters. Signalling firewalls will continue to see growth in 2024, protecting protocols like SMPP, SIGTRAN, SS7, Diameter, GTP and SIP. There is an opportunity to capture revenue and margin by catering to new voice demands while traditional voice becomes less attractive.
Steady 5G Growth
5G has already changed mobile connectivity as we know it, enabling ultra-fast data transfer and low-latency communications across a global footprint. This will continue to grow in 2024 and beyond, with Statista predicting the number of 5G mobile subscriptions to reach 4.5 billion by 2028, rising from 1.48 billion in 2023. In the coming months, more MNOs will be enhancing their network infrastructure to enable ultra-fast 5G, in order to stay competitive and provide the seamless experience required, and expected, by businesses and end users.
This Time Next Year
The MNOs that will be successful over the next 12 months will expand how they approach voice and messaging, while proactively protecting their profits. The changes that are happening in voice and messaging are creating opportunities to serve a growing number of enterprise needs and capture new growth. There has never been a better time to be in the mobile market in terms of infrastructure, subscriber penetration, and network performance. These combine to create an environment where MNOs can compete based on agility, efficiency and innovation.
AI and machine learning (ML) are continuing to evolve, helping the industry to flourish like never before. 5G is accelerating at every turn and before we know it, 6G will be just around the corner. The use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is growing at a rapid pace as security concerns ramp up. At the same time, MNOs are under pressure to expand their portfolios with omnichannel communications to meet enterprise demands for alternative communications channels.
At GMS, we have a team of experienced telco professionals dedicated to helping you make the most of the year ahead. Together, we can boost your communications capabilities and customer experiences, while building additional revenues both in the short and long-term. To find out more about how we can help you unlock the full potential of your organisation, contact our experts today