Re: why would anyone want to be an operator these days?
"Sunset industry....I've worked for both mobile operators and equipment vendors. I want out"
Why? If you've got skills and experience you should be in demand, even if not in demand by the established oligopolists. I too work in an industry (energy) where old business models are under continuous assault, where new entrants enjoy a tilted playing field, and where former incumbents believe they are under attack. Factor in (currently) falling energy demand, government regulation, and it too looks like a sunset industry. But that's rubbish - its never been such a vibrant and exciting industry - huge technological change, misguided political meddling, unsustainable "eco" policies that will have to change, new competitors, vast investment left right and centre, significant multi-billion pound problems still to be addressed, new energy products coming to market all the time. There's the impending change to electrified transport that'll reshape demand curves, and possibly the widespread introduction of heat pumps which will change demand further, electricity storage, local micro generation, etc etc.
Coming back to your sector, until somebody demonstrates telepathy, the situation is similar. The need for telecoms is going to grow and grow, and even if prices are falling, that means new, more competitive business models are needed, new approaches to technology, new ways of merging fixed line and wireless in ways that benefit both (and customers). There's all the changes that IoT will bring, in both demand for connectivity, and in new uses, there's the need for faster delivery of LTE, every prospect of OFGEM's new boss deciding to do things differently. And in both energy and telecoms, the companies driving change are doing so to make money - and if they're making money, you could be part of that.
If you're thinking that Tesco's shelves are beckoning, take a day out (chuck a sicky if need be), and write down all that's happening in the industry. What are the long term trends and what do they mean in terms of both threat, but more importantly opportunity? Who's eating who's cake? Who's growing? Who's been in the news, and could that mean job opps for you? What skills do you have that are important in this big picture? Who's got problems that YOU could help solve? Who would you LIKE to work for? Can you spot the organisations that maybe haven't yet made a move in the telecoms sector, but have positioned themselves to do so? Are there new entrants with an unstoppable proposition, and how can you climb on board their bandwagon? Where have your former colleagues go on to better things, and can they help you directly, or offer wise counsel on what you need to do?
Your glass really ought to be at least half full.