Wireless Week asked and industry professionals answered: What are the biggest issues, challenges and trends the wireless industry faces 2011? Finding the right M2M business models, coping with all the data traffic demands and moving to IPv6 before Internet addresses run out are just a few of the issues.
The Breakout Year for Mobile Giving
Jim Manis, Chairman and CEO, Mobile Giving Foundation
With Haiti earthquake relief efforts raising more than $43 million, 2010 was a watershed year for mobile giving in terms of consumer and nonprofit awareness. As odd as it may be to say, 2011 stands to be the year that mobile giving "breaks out." More non-profit organizations (NPOs) will become educated about the medium and determine how it best serves their goals of donor acquisition, fundraising and donor engagement. More NPOs will share best practices through events such as the Mobile Giving Forum, and it will be incumbent upon wireless operators to ensure that direct-to-carrier billing protects the core values of brand engagement – consumer trust and relational integrity. Meeting this challenge through reinforced standards and improved billing systems will contribute to a breakout year as the mobile-giving ecosystem offers consumers a truly powerful medium for philanthropy and social action that embraces wireless innovation.
Retail Pricing Pressure on Rate Plans Continues
David Inns, CEO, GreatCall
The biggest issue the wireless industry will face this year is the continual erosion of retail prices on rate plans. Once confined primarily to prepaid, aggressive unlimited and family share pricing is creeping into the postpaid market. Related to this issue is going to be continued pricing pressure on data plans, although the reduction in minimum data plans will help increase penetration of data usage by consumers that have been reluctant in the past.
The arrival of low-cost, no-contract Android devices will allow aggressive prepaid players to become more relevant in the higher end of the market and will quickly drive deeper adoption of smartphones into all consumer segments. The entry of these lower-cost Android devices also will continue to increase the relevance of third-party retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart as their no-contract lineup expands into more capable data devices. Additionally, we will begin to see more acceptance from consumers in using their phones/devices for doing things other than talking and playing games; particularly an increase in using apps to help manage wellness.
Raising the Bar with 4G LTE Networks
Roger Linquist, Chairman, President and CEO, MetroPCS Communications
As customers demand more from their wireless experience, including expanded data, Web access and entertainment, mobile operators are challenged to provide greater value to cost-conscious consumers. Migrating to a 4G LTE network and transitioning to VoLTE are the necessary steps in network evolution and MetroPCS is well down the LTE path, with recent launches of 4G services in five initial markets.
Evolving our network to LTE gives us tremendous capacity advantage, enabling us to maintain our low-cost structure to deliver the most value and the ability to do more with wireless service. Engaging early with LTE supplier partners to address our current spectrum in PCS and AWS bands and our overall unique approach to focus early on smartphone launches was critical to our success. Addressing these issues early translates into lower costs across the value chain, from chipsets to handsets, and a greater number of consumer devices. If the ecosystem continues down this LTE path, ultimately the consumer wins.
Keeping Drivers Connected – Safely
Jim Buczkowski, Henry Ford Technical Fellow and Director of Electrical and Electronic Systems for Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company
At Ford, our focus is on evolving the SYNC platform by improving voice recognition and smartphone platform compatibility to leverage mobile apps and increasing network speeds. We already know that customers are using apps while driving, but through the use of voice recognition, we can reduce these hand-held distractions, helping drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. As the app economy continues to grow, we'll be increasing the deployment of our SDK and API enabling the developer community to create new ways for consumers to access apps safely in the car, making life more convenient, simple and productive.
Our connectivity strategy is founded in research supporting the minimization of in-car distraction. The next steps will be closer working partnerships with the wireless and consumer electronics industries to achieve a holistic, smart solution that enhances the driver experience from both a safety and connectivity standpoint.
Sorting Out the Business Cases for Embedded Connectivity
Dan Warren, Technology Director, GSMA
The business case for embedded connectivity is far from clear. Disparate models exist depending on the requirement of the service - high vs. low bandwidth; high vs. low volume. This generates a breeding ground for fragmentation which hampers the progress of the embedded market but is reflective of the breadth and scale of the opportunity.
In 2011, operators need to be able to embrace this diversity and sufficiently rationalize the market to a small set of business models that will ensure revenue potential from introducing M2M technology into new industry sectors is realized. Health, automotive, consumer electronics and utilities can all be revolutionized by wireless connectivity. The mobile industry must come together to reach consensus on how best to make this nascent market a thriving, revenue-generating reality across each market.
The continued development and evolution of mobile broadband networks broadens the horizon for embedded services. Simultaneously, the need to recoup network investment provides further incentive to mobile operators to introduce new services on their networks and drive new revenue streams from a growing and diverse customer base.
Small Cells See Big Play
Serge Pequeux, President and CEO, AirWalk Communications
Small cells will be an important factor in 4G/LTE networks – picocells, enterprise femtocells and consumer femtocells are essential to complement the LTE networks being deployed. The exponential growth in high-speed, data-driven services such as mobile applications, videos and smartphones has created the need for a versatile network solution that can accommodate the uneven distribution of data demand. With a small cell solution, operators will improve high-speed data capacity and coverage specifically where the data usage increases. Operators will be able to offload macrocell data traffic to hot spots and provide full coverage in blind spots and in-building areas. The next-generation networks will require small cells to offer absolute data coverage.
Mobile Barcodes Facilitate More Purchases
Mike Wehrs, CEO and President, Scanbuy
The use of mobile barcode technology has seen a phenomenal uptake in the past few months and the trajectory is very exciting. For 2011, we see this growth accelerating to give consumers a much more interactive and engaging experience. The potential for a more comprehensive integration of mobile barcodes with mobile commerce tools and applications is one we're particularly excited about. Right now, most mobile barcodes provide basic product information or video to consumers. In 2011, we'll see more businesses leverage barcodes and tools to enable purchases directly from physical media like magazines or catalogs. Mobile barcodes in 2011 will not only provide convenient access to information, but also will give companies a direct avenue to drive sales in a couple clicks and give end consumers conveniences they will truly enjoy and benefit from.
Seismic Shift in Models
Mike Baker, President and CEO, DataXu
The biggest issue the wireless industry will face in 2011 is laying the groundwork to succeed in the coming wireless "attention economy." The roots of this industry are in the provision of network service and communication devices. The future of the business, however, is in software and services, and more importantly, the consumer experiences they enable. While some naively hope that the consumer will pay more for these experiences, the data suggests that the consumer is tapped out. That means the industry needs to participate in non-subscriber revenue streams, most notably advertising. We are entering a period of discontinuous change in the wireless business where the many incremental improvements (e.g., network bandwidth, device functionality) will compound suddenly to create a seismic shift in the business models. While the Internet companies work furiously to seize the opportunity, the telecom incumbents are slow even to acknowledge it. In 2011, it's time to prepare to "lead" or get ready to "cede"!
Focus on Adopting IPv6 – Pronto
John Curran, President and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN)
With the increasing global popularity of Internet-enabled mobile devices, the wireless industry will face a transition issue in 2011. Every phone that connects to the Internet needs an IP address. However, there's a problem: We're running out of the IPv4 addresses we've been using.
We currently have less than 5 percent of IPv4 address space remaining and expect it to fully exhaust in less than a year. The good news is there is a solution – IPv6. This next generation of Internet Protocol will allow for the future growth of the Internet and the wireless industry.
It is extremely urgent that the wireless industry adopt IPv6 before time runs out. This transition will be relatively painless if taken care of now, but organizations could face problems if they choose to wait. IPv6 adoption should be a large focus for all involved in the wireless industry in 2011.
Mobile Payments at Epicenter
Jay Emmet, General Manager, OpenMarket
Mobile payments will be the vertical that drives the most interest in 2011 in the U.S. market. Operators are considering a wide range of functionality – from proprietary solutions that in theory drive subscriber growth, to more ubiquitous and commercially available alternatives that are essential for big brands to reach their entire consumer base. Operators understand they have incumbent advantages that no other entity can replicate, but the question is whether they will launch functionality that can be used beyond a limited, trial effort.
Operators Realize Value Proposition in Femtocells
Simon Saunders, Chairman, Femto Forum
As an industry, in 2011, we will continue to face one of the same issues that we have in the past, and that is: How do we keep wireless consumers happy while maintaining operational and capital expenditures? 2010 was a big year for new femtocell launches and 2011 will be even bigger, as an increasing number of operators realize the value proposition that femtocells afford them – from providing a cost-effective solution to build out network coverage to keeping consumers happy with higher levels of service to increase brand equity and decrease churn.
Already femtocells outnumber traditional base stations in the U.S., and we predict that will be the case for the whole world by the end of 2011. The applications and services enabled by femtocells will also grow. Increasing numbers of mobile operators will recognize that femtocells are a standard part of their toolkit for meeting mobile demand and keeping up with their competitors, and not just a special case.
The End of Flat-Rate Pricing
Tim Weingarten, CEO, Visage Mobile
The smartphone penetration rate of employees in corporate America increased from 10 to 15 percent in the last 12 months and is expected to increase to 30 percent + by the close of 2011. This is happening in parallel with wholesale changes to data pricing models from carriers. Flat-rate pricing is increasingly being subsumed by tiered or usage-based models and the tethering of multiple devices to one data plan becoming the norm. Therefore, the challenge for IT over the coming months will be to support and manage all of these new smartphones without breaking the bank on data plans in addition to the cost of the devices themselves. Also, as smartphone penetration goes up, more IT departments are motivated to enable these devices to access their corporate applications, not just email and calendars, causing support costs for smartphones to also go sky high.
Reality Check for M2M
Alex Brisbourne, President and COO, KORE Telematics
While 2010 was indeed a "coming out party" for machine-to-machine (M2M) connections among Tier 1 carriers, 2011 will see them begin to define M2M as a true growth market. While we will see a continuing trend toward more discrete M2M devices – purpose-built for new applications in payment processing, health and wellness management, personal tracking and exception-based industrial monitoring – wireless executives also will come to grips with market size believability. Impracticable views that connected machines could easily outnumber connected humans by 50 to 1 only lead to disappointment.
The real action area for 2011, however, will be business models, both to reconcile carrier desires for an all-3G world with the commercial advantages of 2G M2M solutions, as well as to close the loop on solid value models – particularly in important segments such as healthcare and environmental controls. These are the pressing questions that will need to be asked and answered in the coming year.
Multiple Strategies to Meet Android's True Potential
Tim Leberecht, Chief Marketing Officer, frog design/Aricent
Android is going to be increasingly important, but service providers (SPs) and OEMs are going to struggle to create differentiated handsets and apps using it. Over the course of 2011, expect to see multiple strategies emerge that developers are taking in order to meet the true potential of Android.
Machine-to-machine networking (M2M) will continue to gain popularity in the market and be a topic of conversation throughout the next year. We expect that that the largest dollar value lies in services on top of home energy management (HEMs), as opposed to the raw connectivity, which only represents a very small piece of the revenue. As SPs start to build out what their offerings will look like, we can expect to see announcements from startups and utilities on how this technology is going to come together to affect people in the real world.
Augmented reality (AR) is a key innovation area and is expected to move from niche applications onto a new range of use cases in 2011. However, there is a growing perception that AR needs to prove that it can offer true value beyond the early buzz and get monetized through feasible business models.
Mobile Payments Become Ubiquitous by End of 2011
Kolja Reiss, Managing Director, mopay
As the mobile payments industry matures, we will see sophisticated product enhancements, major e-commerce partnerships, more noticeable investments and consolidation among the players. A few themes to watch in 2011 include:
• Everywhere by December 2011 – European and Asian countries were the first to adopt mobile payments, but merchants here in the U.S. have followed their lead recently and could very well outpace them by the year's end. All merchants, particularly those in e-commerce, will continue adopting mobile payments as a means of payment. Considering the rate at which the industry is growing, we anticipate mobile payments will – at least for the digital industry – become ubiquitous before next year's holiday season.
• Investments and Acquisitions – The mobile payments hype that grew in 2010 is a harbinger that major venture capital deals will be announced next year. The more likely scenario, however, is that most, if not all, major industry players will be acquired. Credit card providers and handset manufactures are just a few of the potential buyers looking to complement their existing e-commerce portfolios.
• New currencies – Facebook Credits were only announced a few short months ago, but have already become a meaningful form of currency. "Virtual currencies" such as these will become very popular in 2011. Expect other well-known brands and Internet giants to develop their own versions.
Wi-Fi, Here We Come
Chris Kozup, Director, Mobility and Borderless Networks, Cisco
Capacity limitations for wireless access will increase as an inhibitor to performance in the coming year. Despite the growing availability of LTE and other 4G cellular networks, the demand for mobile data will outpace network supply, cementing Wi-Fi as an attractive alternative. In parallel, the market will experience an explosion of Wi-Fi enabled devices with analyst predictions approximating unit shipments of 1 billion in the coming year (a 4x acceleration from just three years ago). If 2010 was the year of the tablet, 2011 will see a broad variety of consumer electronics incorporating Wi-Fi for peerto-peer, synchronization and Internet access. This surge in connectivity demand will further exacerbate capacity challenges – this time in unlicensed networks. Businesses must shift design practices from basic coverage to augmented capacity. This will require more structured investments in wireless networks and changing the mindset of wireless as a best-effort network to a business critical service, commensurate with existing expectations for wired network performance.
Establishing Privacy Policies & Procedures for Location
Steve Hudson, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Omnilink
One of the most significant issues the wireless industry will address in 2011 is the establishment of privacy policies and procedures surrounding the tracking of the endless range of connected devices. There are currently well-defined standards from groups like CTIA for the tracking of handsets; however, the growth in the number of other connected devices capable of tracking individuals will drive both companies in the industry and government regulators to consider a range of new privacy requirements. The final decisions on these rules and regulations will have a tremendous impact on the expanded role of location in the market. Both the near- and long-term direction for location-related solutions will be driven almost entirely by the final form that these requirements take.
True Multimodal Universal Access Arrives
Mike Thompson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Nuance Mobile
2011 is the year that true Multimodal Universal Input will finally come to fruition and take center stage. Several OEM manufacturers and operators will be able to deliver on their promise of providing users with a fully optimized, fully integrated universal input experience, including predictive text, continuous touch, handwriting and speech integration. This proliferation of multimodal input will be the direct result of manufacturers and carriers looking to provide a unique, customized experience across a broad variety of devices that leverage high computing power, cloud connectivity capabilities and of course, the touchscreen. The key will be in readying operating systems to deliver. And while multimodality is of course possible on any platform, we expect to see it explode on Android devices given the need for differentiation, and the opportunity to customize on its open platform.
Get Ready for Rising Legal Costs
Eric Siow, Vice President, Open Patent Alliance
As 3G continues to grow and 4G begins to take its first steps as a mobile service, 2011 will see a dramatic rise in legal costs around mobile technologies. We're already witnessing a large number of wirelessrelated lawsuits. Additionally, negotiating bi-lateral agreements has long been a costly endeavor for companies interested in licensing intellectual property rights.
The legal costs from both litigation and negotiation of bi-lateral agreements have already proven expensive regarding 3G technologies, and are only predicted to increase with 4G, especially given the larger ecosystem of products and players that may incorporate 4G technology. As a result, it is clear there is a need for additional and innovative approaches.
The patent pool approach may be helpful: It will save time and money while encouraging innovation – not just for the wireless industry, but also for other industries and ecosystems interested in deploying the next generation in wireless technologies. 2011 will highlight the role that patent pools and industry-based organizations can play in reducing the need for costly licensing, thereby increasing innovation and the proliferation of technologies.
Acceleration in Products = Shift for Retailers
Marcelo Claure, Founder, Chairman, President and CEO of Brightstar Corp.
This year's big focus will be on tablets, with many manufacturers introducing them at various price points. From tablets to an explosion of Android phones, the onslaught of new products across the wireless category will play a significant role on our industry.
Operators that are looking for more activations and connections are actively approving many new devices for consumers to use on their network. But, often times they are not willing to source them and sell them at their own stores. This leaves manufacturers with the challenge of finding points of sale – both in stores and online – to sell their new devices. We predict that retailers will see an influx of devices that they can consider carrying, but will be weighing this benefit against the high cost of devices and potential inventory issues of bringing in devices that don't sell. Because of this, we believe retail will become more important to the sales of these devices.
All Aboard the Tablet Train in 2011
Vikram Saksena, Executive Vice President and CTO, Tellabs
Everyone's already rushing to have tablets ready for the holiday shoppers. They are promising bigger screens, higher resolution and more features. These features will enable a whole new set of consumer apps that weren't practical for smartphones. In 2011, tablets will become major conduits for highquality, premium visual content.
As tablets enable this high-quality video, we'll also see more service providers partner with content providers. Together, they will offer premium content. Furthermore, faster LTE networks will deliver an excellent visual experience.
Since content is more engaging on a tablet, newspapers and magazines will not simply duplicate existing content. They will design content for the tablet that is elaborate, interactive and user-friendly.
Content will also become more personalized. We'll start to see more applications "push" content to you because they know where you are, what you like and the device you use. Apps will ask your permission to push information to you based on your preferences.
As video quality increases, more corporations will climb aboard the "tablet train." Soon enterprise-class video conferencing and telepresence features will appear on tablets.
Spectrum, Spectrum, Spectrum, Spectrum
Joe Hamilla, COO, Spectrum Bridge
The wireless industry continues to grow at a significant pace, and supply is trying to keep up with demand. The increasing functionality of personal computing and communication devices will put enormous demands on carrier capacity. The ability of service providers to manage their available bandwidth to serve the largest amount of subscribers will be key to growth and profits. Competition is fierce and consumers and handset makers will demand that networks make apps work as advertised. In addition to effectively managing bandwidth, bringing backhaul up to meet the demand will be instrumental for the carriers.
New avenues for bandwidth need to emerge and the FCC needs to move quickly if the wireless industry is to invest, but the lack of FCC decision-making may end up being the biggest issue in 2011.
For Spectrum Bridge, the biggest issue is the timely release of the TV White Space Rules and the Certification process by the FCC. The early adopters are in place and the industry is looking for the FCC to unlock this spectrum and the market to emerge. Spectrum Bridge expects to be at the forefront, with the technology and applications, to succeed in this market.
2011 – The Year of "Real Time"
Pat McCarthy, Vice President, Global Marketing, Telcordia Service Delivery Solutions
The most common challenge that we hear from our global service provider customers is the need to create a continuous stream of new promotions and offers as well as quickly respond to competitor offers. All of our mobile, fixed and cable customers are seeing challenges in driving revenue and profitability growth in the face of new over-the-top players that deliver services to their customers on their networks.
In 2011, we will see more service providers realize the value of their networks and move toward real-time policy and charging as a means to invoke a "two sided" business model where services-based revenue can come from partners and advertisers as well as end users, just like the Internet industry.
Real-time policy and charging enables service providers to charge for innovative services such as per character SMS charging, off-peak data offers, etc. Services will be charged as cost plus, subsidized by advertising or sponsorship, or bundled with other services. The flexibility and programmability of "real-time" will drive innovation, improve service provider time to market with new services, improve their firstmover advantage or rapid response to competitor moves, and ultimately increase their stake in the mobile ecosystem value chain.
On Tap: Tablets, 4G, P2P Video and OS Wars
Scott Moorehead, President and CEO, The Cellular Connection
Tablet computers are primed to become a major player in the wireless communications industry in 2011. The emergence and adoption of the tablet will go one of two ways: tablets will either occupy entirely different device categories than PDAs (to the extent that they are considered opposites) or they will simply replace traditional PDAs. And while many companies will expand their tablet offerings, others will enter the market for the first time.
A huge issue that's already begun, but will continue into 2011, is the launch and advancement of the top three carriers' 4G networks. Questions that will be answered in the coming year include: How will they all get along? Who will win the market share? And how will it affect traditional wired Internet service?
The industry will also witness the start of widespread use of P2P (peer-to-peer) video calling services on handheld wireless phones. While this trend likely won't catch on as fast as picture messaging did, I do think it will see growth in popularity in the new year.
In addition, the battle of wireless operating systems will continue. Android, iOS, Windows Mobile 7, Symbian and webOS – is there room for them all?
Policy-Based Video Optimization Becomes A Must
Merav Bahat, Vice President of Marketing, Flash Networks
Data traffic continues to grow exponentially with the growing popularity of streaming video, mobile TV, social media and online gaming. Traffic congestion and customers' rising expectations will force operators to take proactive measures to avoid bottlenecks. New analytics combined with policy-based optimization techniques will be deployed to ensure a quality user experience.
Since the networks are designed for traffic peaks, policy-based video optimization during busy hours will become a must. Based on existing installations of video optimization in Europe, operators can expect to achieve 40 percent reduction of online video traffic using optimization.
More sophisticated analysis and reporting services will be used to provide operators with deep insight into traffic patterns and user behavior. Information derived from analytics will be fed back to policy-based mechanisms, which will dynamically adjust optimization techniques according to network conditions, congestion and forecasted traffic volumes.
As a result, subscribers will experience smoother and faster browsing and downloads, and operators will be better equipped to manage the data surge in 2011 and the years to come.
Competition Shifts to Customer Experience
Dan Hays, Director, Global Telecommunications Practice, PRTM Management Consultants
The wireless industry will be challenged in 2011 to address the "perfect storm" of slowing subscriber growth, commoditization of services and increased demand for data.
With subscriber growth diminishing in mature economies, competition in 2011 will shift from networks and devices to customer experience. Operators will increasingly seek to better serve and retain their most valuable customers and look for mechanisms to economically support and retain profitable, lower-revenue subscribers.
As the playing field continues to level, branding and pricing strategies will take center stage to attract new subscribers. Also, as smartphones continue to proliferate, brand affinity and innovative product and service bundles will become more important than ever. Finally, while 4G promises improved speed and latency, justifying the capital outlay will be a challenge for operators amid stagnating ARPU and intense competition. Operators will seek new forms of financing and network sharing to mitigate risks, with dual-mode 3G/4G networks taking on greater importance.
Wireless industry players who can adapt their business strategies and execute flawlessly in the rapidly changing environment can look forward to a terrific 2011.
Breakout Year for Mobile Apps in Enterprise
Gregg Fiddes, Vice President of Sales and Strategic Partnerships, Quickoffice
We believe 2011 is going to be the breakout year for mobile applications in the enterprise. There is a convergence happening where now, ever-more powerful mobile devices of different form factors will become prime-time enterprise tools. Smartphones and tablets now have bigger and more vibrant screens with very high resolution and faster processors that are being "fed" advanced applications that deliver tangible utility to the mobile workforce. These changes are leading to more challenges for IT organizations that are inundated with powerful devices, such as Android and iOS phones, and they haven't quite caught up with managing these new demands. In 2011, it will be important that the industry react and adapt to the diversifying and sophisticated mobile marketplace.
The current fragmentation in the mobile marketplace is not likely to dissipate and if anything, we'll see even more smartphones and tablets of different sizes, including the MID category. As such, the top priories of enterprises will be to ensure these devices and applications are secure and compatible within their environment, and the applications provide real productivity and utility.
Adoption of "Mobile Cloud" Will Grow Exponentially
John Barnes, CTO, Model Metrics
Businesses are adopting smartphones, iPads and tablets in parallel with cloud computing. Demand will rise for enterprise-class mobile cloud solutions that are scalable, highly customizable and easy to implement in order to make cloud computing work for mobile workforces and to support the growing trend of more business interactions taking place on mobile devices. According to Juniper Research, the mobile cloud computing market is expected to reach $9.5B by 2014, with the majority driven by businesses. In 2011, a combination of internal and cloud resources, online and on a variety of mobile devices, also will create new management challenges. The new distributed work force needs to take critical business functionality with them, and they're bringing their own phones to the party. Businesses will be expected marry cloud and mobility successfully by developing a long-term mobile cloud strategy to qualify what applications are necessary for their mobile work forces to be successful.
More Collaboration with CE Manufacturers
Miguel Myhrer, managing director, North American Wireless and New Product Development and Innovation, Communications and High Tech Group, Accenture
Deployment of 4G is facing challenges, which includes managing complex business models, non-standard operational requirements and highly variable device and technology standards driven by exploding growth in machineto-machine and connected device communications. These challenges are further complicated by the continued growth of applications and the extension of wireless functionality into mainstream functions (mobile payments, mobile health, mobile home), along with 3G/4G device support.
Capitalize on expanding consumer wireless technologies. Smartphones in the enterprise and connected devices will require wireless firms to collaborate more effectively with consumer electronics manufacturers – beyond handsets – and Internet service providers.
Leverage embedded software opportunities. This will be critical in wireless – across machine to machine, connected devices and networks. Industry players must capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities involving open operating systems for wireless handsets, as well as wireless applications using consumer and corporate devices other than handsets, that leverage embedded software.
Keeping Up with Data Demands
Mike Day, Chief Technical Officer, ADC Telecommunications
The biggest challenge will be keeping up with the never-ending demand for more capacity and faster networks. The industry is racing to bolster wireless networks, including introducing LTE, for example, to help meet the constant demand for bandwidth and speed. Carriers must be able to support new applications for consumers, business, including key sectors, such as manufacturing, healthcare, education and government. There was a day when networks drove solutions, but today, applications are driving networks. Innovation also is leading us into a new era of growth in mobile broadband for more machine-to-machine communications – the "next big thing." The "cloud" ultimately could and probably will help deliver those services. Then again, as an outgrowth of wireless innovation, another challenge likely will be dealing with privacy and legal issues from individual and corporate privacy to homeland security issues.
Smart Device Showdown
Jeff Yee, Senior Director of Worldwide Business Development, Volantis
2011 is going to be the year of the showdown – the year of the "smart" device showdown, that is. A host of smartphones, tablets and e-book readers will all be vying for our attentions, their powerful and aggressive parent companies jostling for market share in the background.
But what will this actually mean for industry players large and small? Carriers will be faced with the challenge of learning to sell and maintain a plethora of new devices, meaning that their customer support services and data transfer capabilities are likely to be painfully stretched. On the plus side, this also means that we may well see some crucial innovation in mobile-web based customer self-care solutions.
For the providers of operating systems, gaining market share in 2011 will be about demonstrating the ability to nurture a thriving development community. The operating systems that do so will undoubtedly have the best chance of wooing the device manufacturers.
For content providers, the most vexing issue will be form factor fragmentation, and 2011 will be the year they're likely to remember as one in which they were forced to make the difficult choice between supporting specific high-powered devices or investing in platforms which allow them to reach a wider audience (or taking the costly route of doing both).
With all of this going on, there is a very real possibility that it will be the mobile consumers themselves who will suffer, as they struggle with draining call center phone queues, confusing operating systems and rapidly multiplying software compatibility issues. That means that only those companies offering the best possible user experiences across the widest range of devices, platforms and browsers will have a chance of implementing a winning strategy in 2011.
Moving to Metered Data Plans
Mark Hopper, Vice President, Product Management - Mobility Products at Smith Micro
There will be a few important challenges in 2011. First, the wireless industry will need to work to meet consumer demand for mobile video. But I think the big crunch in demand for video will continue beyond 2011. Right now, the average usage per smartphone is still about 150 MB per user. In future years, with a data growth rate of over 17x, there will not be enough spectrum to handle this traffic. Specifically, in 2011, I think one of the biggest challenges will be the movement to metered data plans. In general, people don't understand the kilobyte currency, they understand minutes, but not data tonnage. For example, if I watch a video at 320 resolution vs. 720 resolution vs. HD, the amount of data to watch that same video is massively different. So a big issue will be how operators expose data usage to customers.
A more relatable analogy to that end: We all pay per kilowatt for electricity and I know that if I turn on my AC, my bill will be bigger. But mobile data is much worse – my electric bill doesn't go up by hundreds of dollars to run my AC for a day, but my data bill will on my phone. As an example, it costs $4.99 to rent and download a movie from iTunes (HD). But it will cost $50 in bandwidth charges to download it. For this reason, operators are trying to complement their wireless networks with Wi-Fi.