News & Analysis

2010-2019: When Mobile Phones Lost Their Voice


At the turn of the decade, mobile phone users could be heard complaining about the missing 3G symbol next to the towers on the screens that indicated high speed internet availability. There were just a handful of touch phones that could avail of the service which came at a premium over what consumers paid for voice calls and texting services.

Now, the world of mobile telephony has completely metamorphosed with mobile phones using their voice to high speed data that easily doubles up as a telephone by using voice-over-IP to make two-way communication a breeze. Why just two-way? As many as 15-20 people can get on a single call using Apps and the 4G speeds that their smartphones dish out.

And just when we thought that our mobile phones had become our personal television, mini-laptop and music player all rolled into one, here comes news that the next generation connectivity is waiting to be adopted. Yes, 5G offers speeds between to 10 to 100 times of what is available now, besides ultra-low latency and the ability connect more devices to the internet than existing networks.

These next-generation mobile networks will transform business and push forward the evolution of technologies like autonomous vehicles, IoT, edge computing, data analytics, and telemedicine. As telecom major Ericsson observes, adoption of connected devices extends beyond consumers to enterprise and industrial applications, the need for connectivity will evolve to suit the specific demands of each industry, as connected networks will need a blend of several key areas to ensure fast, reliable, and secure connections.

A report by 451 Research suggests that 5G will potentially have an energizing and catalytic effect on a whole array of technology and services in IT. “The move to 5G will be multispeed with some quarters will perceive threats, some opportunities, and some a mix of both. Perhaps the biggest single lesson is every business that is touched by the mobile Internet, IoT, cloud services and consumer electronics or automation needs to track and assess the coming impact of 5G. Few will be left unaffected,” says the research report.

The new age networks are already operational or on the cusp of being so in the United States, France, Germany, Spain, South Korea, Qatar and the UAE besides some Scandinavian countries. As far as India goes, the government just clarified that it would give 5G spectrum on trial to all existing players including Huawei, that was put on notice by the US Administration. Given the financial meltdown in the Indian telecom business, it remains to be see how quickly companies raise funds to go 5G.

In fact, experts believe that we’re still a long way from 5G living up to its full potential as the transition from 4G to 5G will take many years. GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the mobile operator trade association GSMA, estimates that even by 2025, 5G will only account for 15% of cellular connections (excluding cellular IoT devices). The decade should be remembered for 5G took its first real steps into the mainstream.

While telecom players are preparing the infrastructure to carry 5G across the world, another group is silently preparing for the next content revolution once internet speeds become lightning quick. Led by Google and Facebook, the big guns are preparing cloud-based gaming services as they perceive that users won’t need to store games at home, instead relying on the cloud to do so.

Looks like the gaming console would be the next hardware that the smartphone would kill.

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