The telecom industry has consistently been transformed by technological advancements, and this year will be no different. This is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the challenges the sector has long faced, as well as the transformation it’s long due for. 

Consumers and businesses have relied on interconnectivity more this year than perhaps ever before. Employees switching to remote work, schools transferring to online learning, a surge in telemedicine capabilities, and a need for people to keep in touch with family and friends via text, phone, or video call in response to social distancing guidelines, technology has allowed us to go about our normal lives (or as ‘normal’ as they can be right now) all from behind a desktop or mobile screen.

As we look to this year, here are some of the biggest telecom trends we can expect to see throughout the remainder of 2021:

5G 

It goes without saying that 5G is arguably one of the most prominent telecom innovations within the past few years. A majority of the population has been hearing about 5G capabilities for quite some time now, but 2021 is the year that carriers will work to bring about their 5G networks and manufacturers will gradually begin introducing an influx of 5G-compatible devices to the market. 

Mobile giant T-Mobile, which recently combined with Sprint, has already been rolling out their 5G coverage, and has plans to deploy it nationwide by the end of the year. This is putting immense pressure on their competitors, specifically AT&T and Verizon, to follow suit. 

5G isn’t only evolving the telecom industry itself, but it will quite literally change the world. It will put more money into the economy, will create millions of jobs, and will also grant underserved regions access to life-saving technology.

Internet of Things (IoT) 

IoT’s rapid popularity and expansion took many by surprise, but it’s growth makes sense. The Internet of Things allows devices, endpoints, and assets to communicate with networks in ways that were once impossible. As the pandemic forced consumers and businesses into the digital realm, IoT has been critical in the fight to keep communities and industries up and running.

In 2021, healthcare, remote asset monitoring, location-based services, and smart offices, among others, will rely on new IoT solutions in order to thrive. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

2020 was the year of virtual everything, so of course new innovations in artificial intelligence were eminent. While AI saw growth across seemingly endless areas, one of the most prominent was in customer service — another impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This year, everyone from businesses, government agencies, and community foundations should anticipate using artificial intelligence to not only communicate with one another, but with the rest of the world as well. 

No one could have predicted the fate of 2020. While COVID-19 has been nothing short of grim, there are instances where such an unprecedented event could be credited for such rapid technological transformation, like in the case of the telecom industry. Not only will telecom innovations be necessary to keep up with last year’s growth, new advancements will be necessary to bring about more positive impacts in 2021.