skip to main content
Close Icon We use cookies to improve your website experience.  To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.  By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.
Global Search Configuration


This report looks at the changing role for communications service providers. It concludes that “the death of the telco” has been greatly exaggerated, but fundamental change will be necessary for CSPs to survive and thrive.


  • CSPs will remain at the heart of the digital economy, but revenue growth will continue to lag rapidly-increasing demand. Connectivity and communication will contribute $1.3 trillion (28%) of digital enablement revenues in 2025.
  • Only the largest, particularly in emerging markets, will remain in the value-added service opportunity. Disintermediation, high costs, skills gaps, cultural legacies, and competition will force all but the largest players or those in emerging markets away from value-added services.
  • CSP segments will evolve, and operational transformation will be essential. Changes to the CSP landscape will see the SMART player role elusive to all but a handful of CSPs. Irrespective of their role, operational efficiency will be essential.

Features and Benefits

  • Analyzes the outlook for communications service providers to 2025
  • Evaluates the changing roles of communications service providers over the next decade
  • Assesses how consolidation among communications service providers will evolve
  • Identifies the critical success factors for today's communications service providers looking to succeed to 2025

Key questions answered

  • How will the role of the communications service provider evolve to 2025?
  • What types of communications service providers will exist in 2025?
  • How will different types of communications service provider focus on customers, services, and operations?
  • How will communications service provider consolidation evolve to 2025?

Table of contents


  • In brief
  • Ovum view
  • Recommendations for communications service providers

CSPs will remain essential to the digital economy

  • Connectivity drives the CSP opportunity
  • Communications remains the CSP challenge
  • Demand not an issue for the future, but profitable supply will be

Value-added service opportunity declines as wholesale grows

  • TV and value-added service dream will be eroded
  • Wholesale to be more central to CSP services

Telecoms will remain a scale industry

  • Consolidation set to continue
  • Different forms of scale for different players
  • Fixed–mobile consolidation to become even more important
  • Mobile-only players still feasible with scale
  • Joining together the old and new will be a key network challenge

Customer experience and agility dominates operations

  • The customer-adaptive enterprise applies to CSPs too
  • Organizational and structural change vital
  • Agility essential to meet the demands of the Second Digital Revolution
  • Build or buy? Partnerships needed across the service scope

Neutral carriers exploit the wholesale opportunity

  • A wide variety of roles
  • Driven by the need to provide end-to-end quality of service
  • A broader role powered by efficiency
  • Focusing on efficiency without the retail marketing burden

Retail connectivity providers to account for most CSPs

  • A retreat from value-added services for smaller players
  • A retail focus, but only for core CSP products

Only the strongest integrated service providers will remain

  • The role occupied by most CSPs today
  • Incumbents and emerging markets offer the greatest opportunities in 2025
  • Scale and brand are the key strengths, but come at considerable cost
  • CSP digital units need to be overhauled
  • Commercially driven functional separation: separating the integrated service provider and neutral carrier roles

CSPs highly unlikely to become SMART players (but not impossible)

  • The hub of the digital economy
  • Not an exclusively CSP role
  • Possible for select CSPs to become SMART players
  • Emerging markets offer the best opportunities for CSPs to become SMART players
  • SMART player role even less likely in developed markets
  • CSPs as SMART players must compete in all directions


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author

Recommended Articles

  • Internet of Things

    IoT Viewpoints 2018

    IoT Viewpoints explore the IoT opportunity in 2018 and beyond. Download our latest e-book to get our newest collection of thought leadership articles on the emerging IoT trends, technologies and opportunities.

    Topics IoT

  • Consumer & Entertainment Services

    US pay TV: Is it facing an existential threat?

    By Adam Thomas 28 Mar 2018

    With US pay TV having endured the worst year in its history, thoughts have inevitably turned to the future. The likelihood remains that the immediate future will remain highly uncomfortable for everyone except the scaled multinational digital platforms.

  • Enterprise Services

    5G: Another technology in search of enterprise use cases

    By Evan Kirchheimer 26 Apr 2018

    Service provider interest in justifying 5G investment through its potential to open new revenue streams from the enterprise segment is growing ever greater.


Have any questions? Speak to a Specialist

Europe, Middle East & Africa team - +44 (0) 207 017 7700

Asia-Pacific team - +61 (0)3 960 16700

US team - +1 646 957 8878

Email us at

You can also contact your named/allocated Client Services Executive using their direct dial.
PR enquiries - Call us at +44 788 597 5160 or email us at

Contact marketing -

Already an Ovum client? Login to the Knowledge Center now