What network challenges does the industry face as we head to the middle of 2018 and beyond?
The telecom wholesale marketplace is in turmoil, faced with challenges that are affecting bottom lines and service quality with increasing intensity. First of all, the combination of new market competitors, technical innovations, deregulation and an expanded wholesale marketplace has caused margins to plummet. Though the market has been growing by 10% annually, overall call traffic growth can’t quite keep up with only a 7% yearly jump. Meanwhile, estimates for the cost of fraud run as high as 6.9% of overall market revenue value (roughly $155 billion per year). Unauthorized or illegal use of telecom services, non-payment for services and security shortcomings in equipment are draining operators’ revenues. This, in turn, has a cascading effect throughout the industry.

The widespread industry deregulation mentioned above has broken up monopolies and ushered in a flood of new operators worldwide, while tech innovations and lower entry barriers have made way for a massive influx of new resellers and wholesalers. These factors have clouded the roadmap for finding the most optimal partners, services and routes. In addition, operators must take on the burden of maintaining high liquidity, while the wholesale community and regional service providers are forced to extend payment terms to operators. These conflicting financing demands are causing sub-optimal purchasing and routing decisions, shrinking margins and inferior call quality. 

So, it’s very safe to say that the telecom marketplace is at a crossroads and needs to evolve to stay relevant and profitable. 

What technologies do you see changing / shaping the industry and how?
The first technology I must mention is blockchain — not only because The Sphere is a blockchain-powered global ecosystem, but because I truly believe it’s the burgeoning technology with the most transformative potential for this industry. Blockchain can offer precision in areas such as call tracking and financial reconciliation, ultimately resulting in time and cost savings. It also offers a level of security in online transactions that is unprecedented. In short, blockchain technology is changing the way the internet works and transforming the telecom landscape.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another emerging technology that will help to shape the industry over the next few years. As telecommunications end users demand more and better information at an increasingly fast pace and via a skyrocketing number of connected devices, AI’s importance is growing. 

The combination of blockchain and artificial intelligence is powerful, as I’ll address below.

Are you seeing Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning deployed (or planning to deploy) in your business - and how?
Artificial intelligence is woven throughout The Sphere to enable the system to support, improve and maintain quality of service benchmarks and network performances. The Sphere’s AI and advanced algorithms constantly evolve based on historical and real-time data within the network, allowing the system to identify current and future issues and recommend improvements that will prevent quality deteriorations. The Sphere’s disruptive capabilities hinge on the AI built into the ecosystem. 

What are new developments and initiatives that are exciting for your company in 2018?
We just released our first official announcement about the upcoming launch of The Sphere, a new, blockchain-powered global ecosystem specially designed to address the telecom industry challenges I discussed above. The Sphere enables carriers, operators and resellers to remove all commercial inefficiencies, operational challenges and financial threats in the telecom marketplace. (Learn more here

But that is just the beginning. As we work throughout the year to further promote the benefits that blockchain can offer to this industry, we will release a string of major announcements about The Sphere. We’re looking forward to meeting new people and having productive conversations around their real challenges and how The Sphere can help.

Stay tuned to www.TheSphere.IO.