Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From Analog to 4G -April 21

By Kishore Ballal
A few of us remember the first analog phone with a really long antenna and weighing as much as a brick. Then came the digital revolution, with much more modern and pretty cool phones. I still remember the first ATT plan; 19.99$ for 40 minutes of usage within the network! And that was 12 years ago.

Texting being common in other parts of the world was not available in the US back then. We saw the mega talking plans of 300 minutes usage + weekends free, followed by friends and family free. The revolution kicked off the next level when operators in the US upgraded to a 2.5G network (EDGE, or 3G voice cards). The young generation of youth/college kids replaced the landlines with cell phones.

Then the 3G upgrade happened in 2006 in the US and the now familiar “all you can eat/call” mobile plans came into existence. Thus the cellphone penetration went through the roof.

In fact, operators used to charge per MegaBit (MB) and most consumers did not know what it was, so users did not value content. No industry can survive with shrinking revenues. But the 2 biggest game changers were the iPod/iTunes and the Amazon Kindle. Now, consumers were charged not for “data” but for content: buying songs, buying books, downloading movies, playing games, etc.

The bandwidth constraint is now pushing operators into the next level of technology; 4G where LTE or WIMAX are the big standards. The idea is the ability to pay for content where the operator is no longer a pipe, but gets a share of the content revenue (movies, books, games, songs, etc).

If you think 4G is not really needed, think about it this way; every major technology step takes about 6 years: Analog in early 90s, 2G digital in 1999/2000, 3G in 2006, full 4G adoption/acceleration in 2012. Operators are already building the bandwidth beginning in 2010. Widgets and cloud services, video, mobile TV and music streaming will push the bandwidth to it´s limits.
So there will be 4G, it will be needed and we will enjoy it! The future is truly mobile and then content is finally the king.

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