Wireless Week asked industry leaders for their thoughts going into 2010, and they responded on some hot topics, like net neutrality, M2M, backhaul, carrier billing and competition. Here are their visions for the year ahead.
PREPAID & DATA
For Sprint and the wireless industry as a whole, 2010 will be about growth in two key areas: data and prepaid. We will see smartphone popularity continue to grow, as well as the exponential growth of 3G and 4G wireless connectivity built into a host of consumer electronics, machine-to-machine devices and other great services yet-to-be imagined. As the first nationwide wireless carrier to test, launch and market 4G, Sprint is delivering on our promise to offer Sprint 4G to more than 120 million POPs in 80 markets by the end of 2010. On a separate note, the weak economy has accelerated prepaid growth in the U.S. It is estimated that, even after the economy turns around, most prepaid customers will remain on a prepaid plan because of the appeal of not having a long-term contract. Sprint is in a leading position to capitalize on this growing area with the highly successful Boost Mobile, and our acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA. The winners in 2010 will recognize the importance of these two areas – data and prepaid – and Sprint is positioned to win.
– Steve Elfman, President of Network Operations & Wholesale, Sprint
NET NEUTRALITY & MOBILE WEB
2010 will be the year wireless data networks will grind to a halt and net neutrality will take a completely different meaning when mobile Web enters the debate. The FCC is hoping to prohibit wireless operators from preventing certain types of mobile content from running over their networks, stating that operators should adhere to the same net neutrality as other industries. With wireless operators allowing “all” content to cross their network, the factor of bandwidth comes into play. In order to comply, operators will need to implement a solution that can render the content so it can be viewed on the mobile device without compromising and crashing the operators’ network.
Additionally, 2010 will be the year wireless data networks will grind to a halt. The combination of the high penetration from i-Phone, Android devices, netbooks and the pervasiveness of video-dedicated services and Web sites (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu) will monopolize the bandwidth.
– Patrick Lopez, Chief Marketing Officer, Vantrix
EMPHASIS ON COMPETION, EMERGING DEVICES
The wireless industry is really competitive and we want to keep it that way. Because of significant private investment, made possible by limited regulation, U.S. wireless customers enjoy the broadest array of innovative wireless services and devices, the highest usage levels, the lowest prices, and the most competitive prices of any wireless markets in the world.
In 2010 and beyond, our biggest challenge is to keep this vibrant industry vibrant by not being tempted to fix what isn’t broken, by not burdening wireless companies with onerous new regulations. Less regulation is the way to go.
The big shift in wireless is that our customers now use their handsets, especially smartphones, primarily as hand-held computers that happen to make phone calls – exactly the reverse of how things used to be. This trend will continue in 2010 and beyond as wireless data growth explodes. At AT&T, for example, wireless data usage has increased nearly 5,000 percent in the last 12 quarters.
The other big opportunity in 2010 and beyond is the mobilizing of emerging devices, namely, giving wireless capability to personal navigation devices, e-readers, netbooks and other consumer electronics. This is a market that could grow to $90 billion in global revenues by 2013. AT&T has an organization dedicated to finding and realizing the opportunities in this exciting space.
– AT&T company statement
RACE TO CONVERGED CONNECTIVITY
Moving into 2010, demand for data, messaging and advanced services will continue to grow at explosive rates, transforming the mobile ecosystem into converged connectivity – any screen, any service, anywhere. As a result, the continued evolution to mobile and fixed convergence is yielding a number of new entrants, including cable providers, enterprises and over-the-top players, such as Google Voice, which are turning to mobile as a catalyst for growth to meet increasing subscriber demands. At the same time, traditional mobile operators will continue to evolve their services and networks to embrace converged technologies to achieve the same goal.
With this race to converged connectivity, end users will realize a variety of benefits, including increased ease of use and unprecedented choice in service providers. Operators old and new will develop new ways to differentiate their offerings, ensure quality of service and enhance user experience.
– Tony Holcombe, President and CEO, Syniverse Technologies
WIRELESS IN THE ENTERPRISE
In 2010, IT will see unprecedented demand for wireless access within the enterprise. The blurring of personal and professional combined with the growth of mobile devices will fuel this expectation. IT will experience a shortage in wireless expertise as businesses demand an evolution from best effort to true enterprise-class service level agreements for the wireless network. Technology providers will differentiate based on reliability and performance with innovation occurring in spectrum management and wireless operations and workflow. The ability to control and effectively manage the radio frequency spectrum will become a high priority for IT as the influx of interfering RF technologies (e.g. cordless phones, RF-based building automation systems) will place performance pressures on the production wireless network. With 802.11n squarely becoming the wireless technology of choice, the focus for IT will shift from wireless performance to simplifying operations through spectrum intelligence and enterprise-class wireless management solutions.
– Chris Kozup, Senior Manager, Mobility Solutions, Cisco
CONTENT & APPS PURCHASING ON RISE
The proliferation of smartphones and off-deck app stores in 2009 ushered in a new era of mobile commerce. As more consumers look to use their mobile devices as a medium for purchasing virtual and tangible goods, there will be a greater desire from merchants to expand their market and explore the use of the carrier billing system in new ways. In addition, mobile content and applications purchasing will continue to rise, as innovation moves to more software- and service- centered offers.
– Jay Emmet, General Manager, OpenMarket
VIDEO OPTIMIZATION AS PRVALENT AS WEB OPTIMIZATION
Over the last several years, many network operators have recognized the value of deploying Web optimization to improve the user experience and alleviate the data load on their wireless networks. Now, as video begins to rival the Web as the top traffic producer, operators will need to turn their attention to solutions that manage and decrease video traffic. At the same time, continuous video play has become one of the key parameters used to determine the perceived quality of a wireless network by consumers. In 2010, operators will have to deploy solutions that intelligently balance a user’s desire to watch uninterrupted video streams and the operator’s need to serve the resulting traffic through limited bandwidth channels. Video optimization will join the portfolio of wireless infrastructure solutions – including Web optimization, LTE, WiMAX, femtocells and other technologies – that enable operators to profitably sustain traffic growth now and into the future.
– Joel Brand, Vice President of Product Management, Bytemobile
SYNTHESIS FOR M2M SERVICES
2010 will mark a year of synthesis for M2M wireless services. Despite a bevy of consumer-oriented stirrings in 2009, and some market confusion as a result, M2M will move to define itself in business terms. By necessity, we will see M2M services separate from traditional cellular in that providers will expand their focus from network connectivity, to take a more active role in related business processes such as provisioning and device management. We will see devices gain network approvals more quickly and, unlike consumer devices that are typically tied to a single network, M2M adopters will be able to access network resources from multiple carriers from a single interface. As this inflexion takes place, we will see broader commercial adoption of smart devices that may start life in consumer segments, such as e-book readers, but will then integrate with traditional M2M platforms to bolster such critical areas as service management. In other words, M2M really does start to go “Main Street.”
– Alex Brisbourne, president and COO, KORE Telematics
MOBILE MONEY EXPANSION
In 2010, financial institutions, wireless carriers and retailers will jump feet first into money – mobile money. Consumers want to use their phone like they would a credit or debit card at the cash register to make a purchase, and the majority wish there were an alternative to carrying around a wallet stuffed with cards, money, offers, coupons, etc., according to a recent Firethorn study. So in 2010, we’re going to see retailers and financial institutions acting on this consumer demand by offering mobile apps that expand consumers’ mobile money sources to include gift cards, loyalty programs, rewards, coupons and offers – any way a consumer can spend or save money.
– Dave Vigil, Senior Vice President, Firethorn Holdings, a Qualcomm Company
SMARTPHONES FOR MORE PEOPLE
1. While the capabilities of the cloud will get richer and fuller, we believe beautiful, intelligent devices that are an extension of a human being will remain at the heart of mobile solutions.
2. Smartphones will become accessible to more people around the world.
3. At the same time, Nokia will continue making it easier for the next billion people to experience the Internet for the first time using beautiful, affordable feature phones, not a PC. New mobile services – such as Nokia Money, Nokia Life Tools and Ovi Mail – will provide raw access to information and services where brick-and-mortar infrastructures don’t exist.
4. We will continue making mobile technology more intuitive, personal, and relevant through services that triangulate your “social location.”
5. One size doesn’t fit all: A broad portfolio of devices and services, and an open ecosystem, are necessary to target distinct consumer needs and price points.
– Mary McDowell, Executive Vice President, Chief Development Officer at Nokia
M2M IS MAJOR GROWTH AREA
Machine-to-machine (M2M) SMS will be the major growth area of text messaging in 2010, driven by cost savings. One of my favorite examples is how trash cans in Somerville, Mass., send an SMS when they’re full, eliminating the need for staff to drive to locations unnecessarily. Also, trucking fleets can cut costs for GPS tracking by replacing IP-connected devices with SMS-enabled devices. This way, the business only pays for the SMS connection, and only when needed, avoiding expensive mobile bandwidth prices. SMS is ideal for these types of small, “bursty” amounts of traffic, and there are countless other uses business can deploy. SMS provides an additional reliability benefit, too, as it’s more widely available than the 3G network required for an IP connection. ABI Research recently quantified the forecast growth, predicting that M2M SMS and MMS message volume will have a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent from 2008 to 2014.
– Vince Lesch, Vice President, Product Marketing, Tekelec
LARGE BRANDS RECOGNIZE VALUE OF MOBILE APPLICATIONS
Large brands will increasingly embrace mobile apps as a primary way to deeply engage customers over extended periods of time. Rather than being bolted on at the end of a campaign, these apps will become a critical part of integrated marketing/advertising campaigns that include Web, social and mobile components. We will see more brands embracing mobile apps as a primary call-to-action. Though Apple’s iPhone will still do very well in user experience and software, distribution, commerce, and devices will begin to fragment Apple’s hegemony as the only player in town. As a result, brands will demand that mobile apps run not just on the iPhone, but on up-and-coming platforms like Android as well.
– Scott Schwarzhoff, Vice President, Marketing, Appcelerator
MOBILE BACKHAUL PROVIDERS EMBRACE COE TO MEET NEEDS
In 2010, Fujitsu expects mobile backhaul providers and wireless operators to accelerate their usage of Ethernet for their mobile backhaul networks. With a growing 3G base and emerging 4G network deployments increasing, Ethernet is well positioned to handle the anticipated high growth of data traffic. Moreover, faced with multiple Ethernet options, mobile backhaul providers will embrace Connection-oriented Ethernet (COE) as the optimal solution to meet the stringent performance requirements of mobile backhaul networks. COE is also the natural evolution of the current TDM-centric approach predominantly used in backhaul networks today. In addition, work with mobile backhaul providers shows that a Layer 2-centric approach to COE for mobile backhaul networks is operationally more cost effective than other implementations.
– Ralph Santitoro, Market Development Director, Fujitsu Network Communications