AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) and Qualcomm Incorporated (San Diego, CA, USA) announced today that AT&T has agreed to purchase spectrum licenses in the lower 700 MHz frequency band from Qualcomm for $1.925 billion. The bold move will boost AT&T’s anticipated 4G mobile broadband rollout in the U.S. over the coming years.
The surging popularity of smartphones over the past few years has caused some serious issues for the broadband networks which consumers depend on every day. Network issues revolve around a growing capacity crunch, mainly due to the availability of streaming media and rich content being accessed by next-generation devices. A report released by ABI Research in September 2010 estimates there will be more than 1.5 billion active mobile broadband consumers by 2015. In other words, network performance will continue to decline unless solutions are put in place to mitigate the congestion.
Satellite, when combined with 4G wireless, offers two very powerful advantages for stakeholders. First, it provides a large amount of spectrum. That spectrum enables delivery of next-generation wireless services in a world that is increasingly underserved by terrestrial spectrum and is moving in the direction of broadband wireless. Also, satellite’s large coverage footprint offers unparalleled reach to the next frontier of un-served and underserved suburban, rural and remote areas.
Last Thursday, the GSM Association announced the formation of a task force of mobile operators to explore the development of an embedded SIM that can be remotely activated. The association expects to enable the design of exciting new form factors for mobile communications and speed the development of M2M services by making it easier to bring mobile broadband to non-traditional devices such as cameras, MP3 players, navigation devices and e-Readers, as well as smart meters.
According to the latest update to ABI Research’s forecasts, cellular M2M connections continue to show steady growth, and are expected to exceed 297 million in 2015. Their 2009 forecast of about 225 million connections by 2014 has also been raised to 232.5 million. On the downside, while telematics and smart grid drive growth in Asia-Pacific, the markets outside Japan and key countries are "less mature," according to Sam Lucero, ABI's practice director.
Historically, telecommunication companies have been characterized by fixed rates for telephone and Internet service. Because price is the distinguishing factor instead of features or other differentiators, the average revenue per user has been on a downward trend. The industry has been looking for a solution to this trend for some time, and some providers are now finding it in managed IT services in the cloud.
Well Positioned to Engage in Managed Cloud Services
As mobile usage in the developed countries moves rapidly from voice to applications, the level of call processing in the network must increase correspondingly. Applications such as video and navigation require hundreds of times more data than voice, and the network’s processing capabilities must be upgraded to handle it. Yet choices now being made about 4G infrastructures will significantly impact operators’ ability to scale processing power as needed.
As someone who's been in and around the telecom industry for a long time, you can appreciate the kinds of changes I’ve seen over the years. At its basic level, we've gone from a world of monopoly fixed line service providers, to a de-regulated one where CLECs temporarily roamed, to the fragmented mobile-centric/Internet-centric business of today, where players like Amazon and Google and innovative device companies like Apple and RIM lead the way.
The EU has mandated that member states introduce smart metering in homes and businesses by 2020, to understand and monitor energy consumption with the aim of reducing usage, and ensuring reliability of supply.
Today's communications world is not your grandfather's, or even your father's, communications world. What we used to call telecom is now a much broader industry that encompasses entertainment, Internet and web-based media and services and much more. And communications has been quickly converging with the IT world, which has necessitated a rethinking of how we approach a business architecture for the present day.