Wireless Communications: Is the Future Playing Out as Predicted?

Wireless Communications: Is the Future Playing Out as Predicted?

William Webb (Ofcom, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-505-6.ch002
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Much of the rationale for the launch of 3G networks from 2000 onwards was to promote the expected rise in wireless data usage. Consumers were predicted to make widespread use of mobile internet and mobile TV but it was felt that the data rates offered by 2G networks were insufficiently fast to give them the experience that they expected. But more recently success has been achieved with different types of phone such as the iPhone and with new applications rather than higher data rates. This article takes a look at predictions of the future, considers whether they need to be modified in the light of events and makes its own suggestions as to where things might go from here.
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In late 2007, arguably, the mobile internet arrived. A new phone was launched with which users generated 50 times more data traffic than the average. But this dramatic increase in data traffic was not based on higher speed access – indeed, the phone was not even capable of accessing 3G networks. The phone, of course, was Apple’s iPhone, and the increased data usage came about because of the superior user interface. The success of the iPhone demonstrated clearly that it was not insufficient data rates that were discouraging the use of wireless data; it was the ease of use and practicality of small devices.

And yet, despite this clear evidence, the industry continues to focus on ever higher data rates – spending much time and effort debating 4G, LTE, WiMax and others and showing charts predicting data rates in the region of 100Mbits/s. We predicted in our book that this was completely unnecessary. In this article we will take a look at why this is, how the industry has developed over the last two years and where we predict it is going.

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