The year 2020 was challenging. Between the pandemic, shutdowns, wildfires and other natural disasters, most of us will look forward to a new beginning in 2021. However, the pandemic response in 2020 will have a lasting impact on how and where consumers and businesses will use networks services, how service providers will build out their networks, and where they will invest in additional capacity.

On that basis, here are a few predictions for 2021 for service providers:

Digital Transformation will accelerate

The pandemic will erase years of resistance by late adopters, social institutions and businesses that previously had not factored into the ‘digital transformation’ argument. Forced to go online individuals and businesses have learned new skills. They have overcome technology limitations and forged new business models during 2020. These will continue in 2021 and accelerate many technology transitions that service providers are conducting.

IPv6 will finally overtake IPv4

IPv6 has been hovering around 33 percent for most of 2020. According to Google, in 2021, IPv6 will be used in more than 50 percent of Google searches globally. Boosted by the growth of 5G devices and networks, and increased pressure on CISOs to upgrade enterprise networks for strong network security, many enterprise and websites will accelerate their eventual conversion to IPv6 in 2021.

However, many other ISPs, content providers and retailers, hard-hit by pandemic shutdowns, have web sites that are still IPv4 only. They will remain unable to fund a conversion of their IT infrastructure. CGNAT can help extend their investment.

The pandemic will have a lasting impact on education

The pandemic caused an abrupt conversion of in-classroom learning to remote learning. It will encourage elementary, secondary and higher education to offer online options to traditional in-classroom on a regular basis. This will expand education during illness, periods of inclement weather (‘snow days’) and other situations where a more flexible arrangement would be beneficial.

Service Providers Move to the Edge – Faster than Expected

Service providers will have to re-architect their access networks to accommodate the post-pandemic traffic shift. Traffic is shifting from dense urban areas to suburban as work/play/learn at home continues. Edge computing is forecast by IDC to exceed 50 percent of new infrastructure deployments by 2023. Nearly all mobile operators have identified this as extremely important to future networks.

The pandemic will permanently alter lifestyles. Many will not want to return to commutes and less flexible working conditions. Remote work will become a new, acceptable alternative in many industries. Tesla and Oracle’s recent announcements to move corporate headquarters from tech talent-rich Silicon Valley to Texas demonstrate a new trend. It will ultimately impact real estate, mass transportation plans and other social institutions that assume large-scale commutes to a few valuable job destinations.

This shift will boost distributed edge networks, cloud services, and wireless that are less dependent upon centralised traffic aggregation.


A10 LogoA10 Networks (NYSE: ATEN) provides Reliable Security Always™, with a range of high-performance application networking solutions that help organisations ensure that their data center applications and networks remain highly available, accelerated and secure. Founded in 2004, A10 Networks is based in San Jose, Calif., and serves customers globally with offices worldwide.

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