There's no question as to the impact of the economic recession on the economy -- one needs only to look casually at the layoffs that have been announced on the past year across nearly all business segments.
The communications industry, though not immune, has by all accounts fared better than many others, largely because communications remains the backbone of all business, and the latest IP Communications technologies offer businesses an opportunity to revamp their systems to create more effective working environments -- just look at the turnout at ITEXPO East in Miami earlier this year.
For service providers, despite an increasingly competitive environment, and despite facing similar challenges in ensuring they are well positioned to meet growing subscriber demands, the situation is also less bleak than some might have expected. It's clear that the business market will continue to demand high-speed broadband connectivity, both mobile and fixed, but recent research from Alcatel-Lucent's Market Advantage Program (MAP), also suggests that residential subscribers have no intention of giving up their broadband services, despite cutting spending in other non-essential areas.
More specifically, 84 percent of survey respondents agree that broadband is an essential service, making it a less likely target for cost cutting efforts. Perhaps more importantly, subscribers indicate a propensity for upgrading their broadband services -- or, subscribing to a service, for those currently without it.
"This clearly shows that people across the world rely on broadband services as a central part of their social and economic lives," said Tim Krause, Chief Marketing Officer for Alcatel-Lucent. "As the world looks at ways to address the twin challenges of economic growth and climate change, our research shows that broadband and the digital economy must absolutely be at the top of decision making agendas."
Importantly, despite differing views on the impact of the economy on households between developed and developing markets -- respondents in developing markets tended to be much more optimistic about the outlook for the coming year -- the attitudes regarding the need for broadband service superseded their economic outlooks.
Obviously, this bodes well for service providers, especially those that have strategically positioned themselves to evolve their networks and service offerings by leveraging next generation communications technologies. It portends an equally bright future for network equipment vendors that provide that technology, especially those that cut across multiple network technologies, like Alcatel-Lucent, which isn't dependent on the widespread success of a single solution type for its growth.
Take, for instance, the continuing debate between LTE and WiMAX, with most vendors having made a choice between the two. Alcatel-Lucent believes the market potential to be strong for both, and continues to develop both solutions. This naturally gives is an advantage over many vendors, as it can make plays for twice the contracts of single solution vendors.
Alcatel-Lucent's continued development extends much further than simply the latest wireless technologies, to wireline solutions and clear migration paths from 2G/3G to next generation wireless, allowing service providers to migrate their networks at their own pace, without compromising their ability to deliver reliable service to their subscribers.
Naturally, much of the new subscriber growth providers will enjoy will come from leveraging new technologies to gain access to previously underserved or unreachable rural regions, a key consideration of Alcatel-Lucent's continued push to deliver multiple network solutions.
In the U.S., it also rolled out its "Broadband for All" program, which provides advisory services to telecoms, governments, and developers, as they seek to benefit from the American Recover and Reinivestment Act (ARRA) put in place earlier this year. The Act has set aside more than $7 billion to support broadband growth into underserved areas of the country.
The program not only performs in an advisory capacity, but it also serves to highlight the large broadband portfolio that has already been deployed by services providers across the globe to deliver services to both rural and urban areas.
"The stimulus bill offers a unique opportunity for service providers, municipalities and developers to upgrade their networks for decades to come with technology that supports broadband access and services," explained Rich Wonders, vice president of Strategic Marketing for Alcatel-Lucent's Americas region.
So, while some providers are still searching for their future strategies, and while vendors are looking to sway those providers in one direction or another, Alcatel-Lucent doesn't care. More accurately, Alcatel-Lucent cares more, understanding that each situation is unique, providing a solution set that will allow any service provider to evolve their networks for future growth, regardless of their technology strategy.