Telecom and ICT Year in Review: Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs

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2023 has been a promising year for the ICT and Telecommunications industry that’s been filled with transformation, diversification, partnerships and networking.

Telecommunications and Information Communication Technology (ICT) have morphed into invaluable assets across businesses and sectors internationally. Various industries have improved in efficiency due to the effects of a coordinated, innovative, ICT and telecom industry. At the forefront of every intervention, experiment and implementation is a robust telecommunications and ICT framework.

The telco and ICT industry has formed a symbiotic alliance which has resulted in traditional telcos making the transition to techcos. This has been an important topic of conversation amidst both industries. Beyond traditional service offerings, the synergy between the two sectors, under one shared vision, has prompted the enhancement of smart cities across the globe, most prominently in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. These are the most notable and influential ICT and telecom trends of 2023.


Telecom networks serve as the backbone for IoT connectivity. The proliferation of IoT devices, ranging from smart home devices and industrial sensors to healthcare wearables, relies on the presence of a robust infrastructure and scalable connectivity solutions. Telecommunications providers play a crucial role in ensuring that these devices can communicate efficiently, often leveraging technologies like LTE-M (Machine Type Communication) and NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) to cater to diverse IoT use cases.

5G’s high data speeds, low latency, and massive device connectivity supports the requirements of diverse IoT applications. This includes mission-critical applications such as autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and smart infrastructure.

The looming presence of telco/techco transformations in 2023 encouraged telecom companies to explore various monetization strategies and business models. This includes offering tiered connectivity plans based on device needs, providing managed IoT services, and partnering with industry-specific IoT solution providers.

Industrialized Machine Learning (ML)

The industrialization of machine learning in 2023 was driven by advancements in comprehensive ecosystems. These ecosystems seamlessly integrated software and hardware components, fostering a more efficient and streamlined ML workflow. This integration enabled telecom and ICT professionals to develop and implement machine learning solutions with greater ease and effectiveness.

By providing tools and solutions that enhance the reliability and stability of machine learning applications, the telecom and ICT industry can minimize risks associated with errors and system failures. This is particularly crucial in the telecom industry, where reliability, precision, and consumer satisfaction are non-negotiable.

Machine learning practices have dominated the 2023 telecommunications landscape through the establishment of industry-specific applications. These applications range from predictive maintenance of network infrastructures to the optimization of communication protocols, showcasing the adaptability of machine learning solutions to the unique challenges of the telecom industry.

Generative AI

The telecommunications industry grew exponentially in 2023 due to one vital component— enhanced communication. Generative AI’s influential development was seen across various divisions within telcos. Generative AI excels in text generation and advanced communication patterns, facilitating natural language processing and understanding. Telcos applied these capabilities to enhance customer service chatbots, automate responses, and even generate reports, making communication more efficient and responsive.

Despite its transformative potential, the widespread adoption of Generative AI in the industryraises ethical considerations. Issues such as bias in generated content and accountability for AI-generated decisions must be addressed to ensure the ethical deployment of Generative AI in the telecommunications and ICT sector. During the Telecom Review Leader’s Summit 2023, Dr. Stępińska-Ustasiak commented on the impact of biased AI within the workplace, specifically regarding its gender-based bias in scenario implementation. She emphasized that AI needs to be trained with ‘women in mind’ to ensure an unbiased AI realm is reached.

Trust Architectures and Digital Identity

The Zero Trust Architecture security model assumes that threats can exist both inside and outside traditional network boundaries. In 2023, telcos created solid Zero Trust Architecture platforms to authenticate and verify every user and device accessing their networks, ensuring that trust was never assumed, but continuously verified. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Kedar Gupte emphasized the importance of OTPs, Trust Architectures and verifiable identities.

In 2023, telcos increasingly invested in secure digital identity solutions that not only bolstered their individual security but also provided a seamless and trustworthy user experience. Digital identities authenticate users, secure transactions, and ensure that sensitive information is only accessible to authorized individuals. Secure telco networks enhance data visibility, allowing organizations to monitor and respond to potential threats in real-time.

Advanced Connectivity (6G)

The demand for advanced connectivity escalated throughout 2023, and was driven by innovative solutions and the proliferation of connected devices. Beyond cellular networks, diverse connectivity technologies like Wi-Fi 6 and 7, low-power wireless networks, and low-Earth-orbit satellites contributed to the digital connectivity landscape.

This reach of connectivity is set to expand substantially, with 5G and 6G estimated to cover up to 80 percent of the global population by 2030. This broad coverage opens the door for transformative services and experiences, positioning advanced connectivity as a global enabler of digital innovation.

To meet the surging demand for advanced connectivity, telcos focused on exponentially increasing network capacity, enhancing data throughput, reducing latency, and optimizing energy consumption.

It’s worth noting that engineering and operational capabilities related to legacy technologies, such as DSL, 2G, and 3G networks, will become less relevant as the telco industry navigates 2024.

Cloud and Edge Computing

In 2023, telecom providers invested in finely tuned networks to support the seamless connectivity required for distributed computing. The synergy between telecom and cloud/edge computing proved to be fundamental in delivering high-performance, low-latency, and secure services to end-users.

Cloud and edge computing represent a future-ready infrastructure that aligns with the evolving needs of the telecommunications and ICT industry. As digital services and applications continue to advance, the distributed nature of computing resources ensures scalability, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to dynamic requirements.

Quantum Technologies

Quantum technologies have the capacity to transform communication networks by significantly enhancing their security. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a prime example, offering an ultra-secure method for transmitting cryptographic keys. In 2023, telcos (and the industry) recognized the vulnerabilities of classical encryption methods. The implementation of quantum communication solutions became essential for safeguarding sensitive information. This, once again, ties in with the role of Zero Trust Architectures and securing individual digital identities across the telco sector.

While the potential of quantum technologies was noted in 2023, its deployment-at-scale going into 2024 will be limited. Telcos face challenges in moving beyond internal discussions and test-and-learn pilots. The complexity of quantum technologies, combined with the need for specialized expertise, presents hurdles that organizations must overcome to fully harness the transformative power of quantum in telecommunications.

Quantum technologies open avenues for exploring the potential of satellite and fiber optics in quantum communications. The integration of quantum principles into communication networks may lead to the development of hybrid classical/quantum infrastructures that can redefine the standards of secure and efficient data transmission. In 2024, telcos have the opportunity to harness the potential of quantum technologies to navigate the ICT industry and offer ground-breaking deliverables across the B2B, B2C and C2C landscape.

Electrification (Next-Gen Transportation) and Renewables

The rise of autonomous and connected vehicles was prominent in 2023. Moreover, there was an anticipated surge in data traffic and applications related to autonomous landing. The integration of data-intensive technologies enhanced the overall efficiency and safety of transportation systems. This is where the convergence of telcos and techcos was established. Together, they were able to demonstrate their multifaceted prowess.

As the transportation landscape evolved in 2023, telcos were forced to increase their bandwidth, particularly in remote areas, and provide seamless emergency backup coverage. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Sameh Sobhy discussed the fundamental need for emergency backup coverage, as well as the damaging effects of its lack thereof.

In 2023, telcos were presented with a unique opportunity— to merge core connectivity with vehicular technologies and real-time mobility data. These included hands-free driving, infotainment, networks of smart electric vehicle chargers, and ‘vehicle to everything’ (V2X) technology, enabling vehicles to connect with their surroundings.

Telco to Techco Transformation

Tech companies have historically held a global advantage with their expansive reach. In response, telcos capitalized on this shift in market structure. To enhance their capabilities and accelerate the transformation process, telcos increasingly formed strategic alliances and partnerships in 2023.

2023 pioneered the diversification of telcos into three main types of new, non-core businesses to drive innovation and revenue growth:

  • Data Analytics Businesses: Telcos leveraged anonymized and aggregated data to offer big data services, business insights, and data consultancy, providing valuable information that aided retailers in understanding customer behavior.
  • Ecosystem Businesses: Telcos built portfolios of digital service businesses that complemented and reinforced their core connectivity services. These ecosystem businesses generated new revenue streams and enhanced the overall value through diversification.
  • Marketplace Businesses: Telcos ventured into marketplace businesses, establishing e-commerce trading platforms that generated revenue through the sale of goods sourced and sold by the telco itself or in partnership with retailers. Additionally, telcos earned commissions on transactions conducted on these platforms, providing an additional revenue stream.


xRAN, or eXtended Radio Access Network, reshaped the telecommunications and ICT industry in 2023 by introducing innovative approaches to Radio Access Network (RAN) architectures. This revolutionary shift offered telcos newfound flexibility in their relationships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), allowing them to reduce reliance on specific vendors and diversify their technology ecosystems. xRAN reduced physical asset requirements, such as towers, antennas, and cabling. This reduction translated into a tangible impact on capital and operational expenditures for telcos.

Open RAN (ORAN), a key component of xRAN, achieved seamless interoperability among hardware and software from different vendors, fostering an open and interoperable environment.

Centralized RAN (CRAN) allowed multiple mobile sites to share equipment, optimizing network architectures and enhancing resource utilization.

Virtualized RAN (VRAN) further contributed to xRAN’s capabilities by decoupling network hardware from software, enabling greater scalability, agility, and dynamic resource allocation based on demand.

In Summary

A multitude of transformative trends shaped the telecom industry in 2023. From the advent of xRAN redefining network architectures to the Telco to Techco transformation expanding the horizons of connectivity providers, the sector is undergoing a paradigm shift. The integration of IoT is creating intelligent, interconnected ecosystems, while advancements in quantum technologies hold the promise of exponential computational performance. Meanwhile, the convergence of electrification, renewables, and next-generation transportation is ushering in a sustainable era. As telecommunications companies embrace flexibility, security, and innovation in 2024, they are not only enabling the digital future but also redefining their roles in an interconnected, intelligent, and efficient world.

Jessica Bayley

Jessica Bayley is an international author and journalist. She covers global affairs, hard news, lifestyle, politics, technology and is also the author of "The Ladies of Belgium."