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Telecoms

Top 5 business telecoms trends for 2020

960 640 Guest Post

By Laura Health, Head of Product Development at TSG

As with several business technologies, the 2010s saw huge advancements in telecommunications. Whilst VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony had been around long before this decade, this is when it really took off as a viable, modern and futureproof solution for businesses around the world.

A lot of businesses saw it as an opportunity to realise savings from new internet connections or to move their voice services to new providers; but many didn’t really look at the benefits beyond that. 

High-quality internet became far more accessible in the 2010s; leased line internet services became more affordable, with many being able to benefit from 100Mbps and upwards connections; all for the same price of previous 10Mbps services. The internet evolved into an essential tool for any business with the shift towards cloud-based services.

As the decade progressed and many organisations got to grips with flexible working (an option afforded to us by this move to cloud services), consumers benefitted from better internet services. The fibre broadband rollout gained pace, and now an estimated 96% of the UK can access internet speeds in excess of 24Mbps download. It’s an added bonus for avid streamers, from Netflix binges to the festive football fixtures available on Amazon Prime.

What will telephony and telecommunications look like in the 2020s?

Now that we’ve taken a quick whistle-stop tour of the advancements in telephony in the 2010s, let’s look ahead. With the changing way we’re using the internet to consume more services, both personally and professionally, this decade is really exciting.

Hosted telephony is becoming the norm

In a business context, the shift to the cloud continues at an incredible pace. Many businesses, having completed their migration, are now adopting a cloud-first approach, utilising services like Office 365, Dynamics 365 and hosted voice services – all of which need great telecommunications infrastructure.

This is particularly important as businesses are changing how they want to consume their voice services. Typically, organisations are looking to remove the need for physical equipment (in the form of a PBX system – the key aim is to move to a softphone-only environment) and benefit from the advantages a hosted voice platform provides, namely:

  • Disaster recovery capabilities – traditionally, this was only afforded to organisations with a lot of money to spend
  • Flexibility – giving staff the ability to work from any location whilst still being part of the corporate system
  • Preparing for the ISDN switch-off – read more about this further down
  • Cost-savings – these can easily be achieved through consolidation; reduced call spend and typically a low capital expenditure when implementing a new system

Kick-started by the ISDN switch-off, thousands of UK businesses are replacing legacy phone systems – some of which are older than this millennium! Additionally, the rate of change in the hosted voice market continued to increase last year with the announcement from Microsoft about full voice services coming to its Teams platform, provided to organisations via Office 365.

Microsoft shakes up the hosted voice market with Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft 365 Business Voice could revolutionise how we approach voice services here in the UK. If you add to this the perfect storm of the death of ISDN in 2025 and many users already utilising Office 365, the next decade could see Teams providing an entry to hosted voice services to the many at just a small additional cost on top of their existing O365 subscriptions. 

One exciting innovation is the exploration of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into voice services, particularly in the call centre space. This is likely to play a huge part during the next decade, providing efficiencies to call flow and improving customer service. Imagine being presented with all the information required by your device without having to type?

The ISDN switch-off – act now before it’s too late

ISDN voice services will be coming to their inevitable end in 2025, with Openreach making the announcement a few years ago. This will see the way in which we all consume our voice services change. It also means those business clinging on to the ageing traditional systems because “they don’t cost anything to run” will find that they need to upgrade or risk losing their voice services entirely.

Consumers will also be boosted again in the coming decade. Many will still require the copper cable, but this will be more for the provision of the broadband, not voice services. As networks are upgraded, Openreach has now adopted a fibre-first approach. In short, any new buildings or upgrades that it carries out will see superfast fibre FTTP (fibre to the premise) deployed instead of the FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) technology of the last decade. This will provide speeds of up to 1Gbps. Just imagine the streaming on that… 8K anyone?

Providers are upping their game

The introduction of Microsoft 365 Business Voice means providers need to adapt in order to keep up with the times and offer robust services. We’re already seeing this with Gamma’s introduction of its mobile convergence offering (Gamma Connect), giving you phone system functionality on your mobile phone without the need for a softphone. This technology is great for any business who has a very mobile workforce.

5G will give us endless mobile possibilities

The last area to touch on is the introduction of 5G. This is great news not only for consumers, but for businesses invested in mobile voice services. When on the go and not hooked up to WiFi, this means your mobile workforce will still be available and able to use voice services. There are also interesting implications for the IoT (Internet of Things) and AI. 

A final word

So, over the next decade we can expect businesses to move to IP telephony in their droves as they jump ship from ISDN before the costs become unmanageable and, in turn, reap a host of additional benefits. The Microsoft Teams telephony solution will give the market a much-needed shake-up and provides an entry-point into hosted voice for small to medium businesses.

TSG is a managed IT support company in London, offering expertise across a range of areas including Office 365, Dynamics 365, document management and business intelligence. 

Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay 

Telecoms networks attacked the most by hackers

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Telecoms organisations face the most DNS-based attacks, and each attack costs companies an average of £460,000 to remediate, according to a new cyber security report by EfficientIP.

EE, TalkTalk and other recent outages remind us of the pressure telecoms and their networks are beginning to face due to the rise of edge computing, mobile app usage and on-demand videos to name a few.

The findings from EfficientIP research on the global telecoms industry shows how much access into DNS Server is valued by cyber criminals. A successful cyber breach on a telecoms organisation could lead to a loss of revenue for businesses due to slower internet connections and no landline telephone services. The research found four key themes:

DNS-based attacks cost organisations globally £1.7 million on average every year across several industries.

  • 76% of all organisations globally were subjected to a DNS attack in the past twelve months, and 28% suffered data theft.
  • 42% of all respondents in the UK spent an entire business day (six hours) to restore their systems.
  • Top five security threats for Telecoms organisations are: DDoS (42%), Malware (36%), DNS Tunnelling (31%), Cache Poisoning (28%) and Zero-Day Exploits (20%).

Telecoms have suffered more attacks than any other sector surveyed, with organisations admitting to having faced four attacks on average over the last twelve months.

The average cost to fix a single attack is £460,000 in the telecoms sector, the highest in the survey. To put that into perspective, the average cost for the healthcare sector is £210,000.

Furthermore 5% of telecoms organisations surveyed admitted an attack cost them more than £3.75 million.

A quarter of telecoms organisations (25%) admitted they have lost sensitive customer information as a result of a DNS attack. This is higher than any other sector surveyed.

For 42% of telecoms companies surveyed, attacks resulted in in-house application downtime, which causes poor customer experience online. This number is the highest in the survey, tied with education (42%) and services (42%), followed closely by manufacturing (39%) and retail (37%), the lowest number going to the public sector (28%).

As recent cyber-attacks showed how crucial patching was to avoid easy exploits, telecoms have only applied an average of four patches out of the 11 critical patches recommended by ISC in 2016.

EfficientIP’s CEO, David Williamson, points out that recent news makes it more urgent than ever Telecoms organisations protect their networks from DNS-based attacks and improve their network management tools.

He said: “Telecoms organisations need to adapt to the new surge of cyber-attacks and cannot use yesterday’s security technology for today’s problems, otherwise short and long term costs could strike a severe blow to company revenues.” He added: “To face recent industry challenges and customers’ high performance expectations, the communications sector needs to change their approach to network management and incorporate automation as quickly as possible.”