A decade ago, talking to the telco press meant your PR company liaising with a very select, specific group of specialist journalists. The move into unified communications systems means the media sector has widened hugely. At Ballou, we have worked with all the different components of the sector, from carriers to hardware to VOIP, from small telecoms start-ups innovating within the space to blue chip companies.
We’ve seen the sector change dramatically. Mobile opened a whole new mindset around telcos and a suite of different revenue streams and models, from how organisations buy capacity or whether they act as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).
Currently, 5G is the only game in town, and from a PR perspective, the stories are largely around the application of 5G from a B2B perspective. 5G is up to ten times faster than previous connections such as 4G, while its low latency opens up a wealth of new use cases - and its increased capacity makes it an accelerator for the Internet of Things (IoT).
Most of the big-name phone manufacturers have shifted emphasis entirely from the development of smartphones to networking and driving 5G initiatives instead, leaving Apple and Samsung to lead the way. Therefore, partnerships are going to be hugely important from a B2B telco perspective moving forward.
All of which is good news for PRs. Collaboration on innovative market leading research is creating new opportunities and amazing stories. The UK government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme is experimenting with 5G on business use cases, from health and social care to manufacturing and transport. The UK Ambulance Service has trialled a 5G-enabled ambulance with an instantaneous live video link from the interior of the vehicle to a physician in a healthcare setting, operating a remote-controlled robot glove to assess the patient in real time. Factories are benefiting from predictive maintenance through the IoT, thereby reducing downtime and driving efficiency. Meanwhile, using 5G, manufacturers can pivot certain machines, allowing them to be leased out to smaller businesses instead of being idle, producing a secondary revenue stream (and in a post-Brexit landscape anything that can assist UK factories to thrive and reach optimum efficiency will be well received). Furthermore, using 5G on board public transport means CCTV is instantaneous rather than being recorded and relayed back to HQ, monitoring public safety.
Good PRs within the telco sector need to understand the ever-changing market landscape. There’s a shift away from smartphones which are now beginning to plateau in terms of innovation; fewer people are buying the new iPhone every year and we’re keeping our perfectly adequate phones for longer, resisting the urge to upgrade, which is great for sustainability but puts pressure on telcos to attract customers through other means. Telcos will have to reinvent themselves and PRs will have to keep one step ahead, anticipating the next topic that will get the market buzzing, and having the necessary technical knowledge to tell that story.
If you’d like help navigating the telco space, drop us a line.