Knowledge & Insight

UK Telecommunications - an industry in flux

Tue 13 May 2014

Over the past 20 years, there can be few sectors of the UK economy that have changed as radically as the telecommunications sector. Driven by increased competition, changes in government policy, and wave after wave of emerging technologies, today’s marketplace is unrecognisable from the telecoms industry of the 1980’s and 1990’s. And with continued inward investment, frequent takeover activity and a steady production line of innovative technological development, there’s no slow-down in sight.

Liberating the telecoms marketplace

Many industry experts point to the policy changes of the early 1990’s as the catalyst for this recent growth, and government’s move to allow private sector companies to buy up bulk telecommunications capacity and repackage it to consumers certainly played a major role in freeing up the marketplace. Yet this also coincided with a number of startling advances in communications equipment, as developments in microprocessor technology were quickly translated into a diverse range of practical applications.

A step change in telecommunications landscape

For many years the telecommunications industry had focussed on voice traffic - traditional telephone calls - and as new industries such as IT, consumer electronics and a burgeoning media sector began to grow, so telecoms remained apart for some time. Yet soon it became apparent that the lines between these sectors were blurring, and today’s multimedia industry began to emerge. The big phone companies had traditional relied for much of their revenue on the supply of physical assets – phone lines, telephone systems, handsets and other hardware. Yet as the technology changed, they suddenly found themselves competing with IT and consumer electronics companies who were aggressively moving into the expanding telecoms space.

A new world of telecommunication technologies

The big telecoms companies responded by playing the newcomers at their own game. They invested heavily in research and development, quickly developing new technologies that if not re-establishing their competitive position, at least got them back in the game. This was the time when the focus of the major players switched from hardware to software, with the development of wireless networking, high-speed fibre optic networks, satellite communications and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) technologies.

A highly dynamic marketplace

The pace of change within the telecoms industry continues relentlessly as the distinctions between IT and telephony crumble. Smartphones and tablets change not only the way we do business, but the way we interact with each other, the way we read the news, the way we consumer entertainment, the way we behave as a society. And the companies that survive and thrive in this highly dynamic marketplace will be the ones that stay ahead of the curve, both in terms of new technology and trends in consumer behaviour.

Telecommunications executive search

The UK has been at the forefront of the telecoms industry for many years, and that’s not only because Britain has hosted so many technological developments. It’s also because of the quality of leadership at the UK’s telecommunications companies. And in a growing industry, the demand for this kind of talent is more fierce than ever. Stone Executive is an experienced telecommunications executive search firm with a proven track-record in telecommunications executive recruitment. Our experienced telecommunications headhunters boast a professional network that spans the world’s leading telecoms firms, together with a great many niche players, which makes us ideally placed to identify, engage and attract high calibre executives with the expertise and experience to deliver bottom-line impact.

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