Global operator revenues tipped past the $2 trillion milestone in 2012, but future growth will be largely confined to a handful of segments, according to Ovum.
The research firm estimates that 60% of the revenue earned in 2012 went to mobile operators.
But despite hitting the $2 trillion milestone, growth has been comparatively slow due to macroeconomic factors, according to Ovum chief forecaster John Lively.
“The recovery from the 2009 recession has been weak, and the ongoing global fiscal crisis continues to present a risk to the telecom industry,” he said.
“Over the next 3–4 years, both fixed and mobile operators will face the same fundamental challenge: to increase new sources of revenue fast enough to offset the decline in mature services.”
Ovum predicts that the segment with the largest growth potential is mobile broadband, which is growing at an estimated 19.2% per year.
Other segments with double-digit revenue growth potential over the next five years include public cloud, enterprise Ethernet and IPTV services.
Faced with declining revenue from its traditional cash-cow services, operators will be forced into competing with OTT providers as well as its traditional rivals. In response, Ovum recommends telcos adopt consumer-services marketing approaches.
Infrastructure vendors will also find themselves with financial challenges in the years ahead. Increases in telecom capex are expected to be constrained by low single-digit gains in service provider revenues, Ovum said.
As a result, vendors will likely find themselves having to branch out into new high-potential product segments, such as 40G/100G optical gear or carrier Wi-Fi.