IBM says the latter two scenarios are the most attractive to carriers, as they will allow the carriers to retain their strong market shares while successfully adapting to the challenge of over-the-top service providers. The carriers most likely to be successful in these scenarios, says IBM, are those with the ability to create "inter- and intra-industry alliances" that will help telcos compete with Internet companies or those with a more open network access infrastructure that can support third-party applications and can essentially incorporate over-the-top applications into their basic set of services. In particular, IBM recommends that carriers "establish value proposition for third-party providers, including interfaces to network capabilities, service enablers based on open standards... and infrastructure support for common business process services."
As far as what technologies will be most important over the next five years, IBM singles out fiber-to-the-x (FTTx) for fixed broadband and Long Term Evolution (LTE) for mobile broadband. According to a 2009 IBM survey of telecom companies, 71% of operators said that FTTx was critical to their success over the next five years, while 67% of operators said the same about LTE. In contrast, only 8% of operators surveyed said that WiMAX was critical to their success over the next five years while 54% said that it was not critical to their success.
"The race for mobile broadband appears to have been decided to LTE," IBM observes in its report, noting that global subscribers to the technology "are expected to reach 400 million by 2015."
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