The wireless telephony (aka mobility) industry continues to go through momentous changes after 35 years of nonstop growth and change. Every time you get the feeling that
wireless mobile has made its “last evolution”, the technology changes, consumer interests pivot, players on the main stage disappear, and the industry enters its next step towards ubiquity and functionality. There is a confluence of events happening today that will have a profound effect on how individuals use their mobile devices.
licensed and unlicensed network now carry unprecedented amounts of data traffic, with a larger and larger portion of that traffic being video of all types.
Internet of Things
Combining that data growth with the advent of the IoT, and its capabilities and challenges, particularly with respect to semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, creates an era of significant change in the wireless communications world.
Shear capacity requirements are now bringing the need for 5G services into sharp focus. But 5G requires different frequencies with reduced range between sites, which impacts how the market for small cells and in building systems will evolve from both an economic and regulatory perspective. Environmental concerns in building construction have a further impact on design objectives for wireless networks.
The data generated by each autonomous vehicle (20 GB+ per vehicle per hour!) places heavy burdens on these networks and impacts the design of the network. New 5G networks will require more data processing and storage at the edge of the network (mini data centers perhaps?), creating continued growth in the large data centers at the vortex of the growth in cloud computing. Each of these factors creates demand for huge amounts of data storage. The regulatory impacts of autonomous vehicles will also make predicting its evolution more difficult.
With more data being processed, vehicular control by processors instead of humans, and other evolutionary steps, cybersecurity in the mobility space will also become a major part of the landscape over the next 5 years.
Carrier vs. Content
With the lines between content and carriage blurring, and a more intense look at advertising revenue becoming a larger portion of a carriers revenue stream (or the large online advertising revenue generators moving towards the carrying of traffic), changes to the carriers business models are on the horizon.
A more friendly regulatory environment at the FCC and perhaps in the M&A arena could also have a major impact on how the industry looks over the next 5 – 10 years.
Telecom Winners & Losers
One thing is certain, however: continued innovation is required. A nimble approach to the ever-changing environment will have a large impact on who the winners and losers might be as we move through the next decade. Companies that can focus their resources on key issues, be honest with themselves about what their real skill sets are, and learn to create partnerships with others to maximize their use of technology will have a much greater chance of continued success.