This week I attended 4G World 2011, a four-day conference and expo that brought together an ecosystem of high tech vendors to talk about LTE – the technology that delivers 4G service to 33 networks in 23 countries, including Verizon, AT&T and Metro PCS in the US. This year’s conference was dominated by presentations highlighting the phenomenal growth in video and data traffic which is driving significant investments in spectrum and network equipment to deliver blazing mobile speeds anywhere that consumers go.
There was a marked sense of industry optimism as the initial 4G deployments are delivering faster than the anticipated growth in consumer uptake, and technical and operational challenges related to the network and devices are being accommodated with the expectation of exponential growth over the next 4 to 5 years.
At 4G World, multiple tributes were made to the legacy left to the industry by Steve Job’s introduction of the iPhone. Ironically, his greatest legacy may not be the device itself but the tsunami of data that his devices unleashed on the mobile networks of the world. Data traffic via mobile networks has increased 4,500 times in the last 13 years and in the last 4 years iPhone users have driven video to over 50% of traffic; it is predicted by Nokia Siemens Networks that this traffic will increase 1,000 times by the year 2020. It was also recognized by the CTO of Clearwire that every prediction on data capacity has been underestimated. Steve Job’s legacy has resulted in the acceleration and major rethinking of the architectures that enable the transport of this data, including the offloading of data from cellular networks to Wi-Fi, the introduction of small cells and the acceleration of LTE technology.
Faith and Trust
This week I heard Gillian Tett,USmanaging editor of the Financial Times, speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about the current crisis inEurope. She identified that faith and trust are at the core of economic, financial, social and political systems; that the European crisis is part of a broader global problem of blind faith in financial alchemy where the following pillars have been consistently eroded and have failed:
- rating agencies
- banks’ balance sheets
- models of valuation
- the ability of government to secure and protect the system
Resulting from this, Tett noted there has been a shift in market psychology, collapsing of time horizons, credit markets that lack credit and a lack of trust in cyber trading. She pointed out that once this trust is lost it is very difficult to restore it. To compound this, Tett believes that in a world of instant communications and social media a dangerous situation is occurring, that of an accelerating cycle of uncertainty around these global systems.
It was interesting to hear two very different perspectives of the future, especially since both are significantly intertwined. Over the last 30 years, the growth and convergence of the information, computing and telecommunications (ICT) industries have contributed to a seven times increase in global GDP and facilitated not only globalization but also the connection of almost half the planet to information and communications. ICT industries contribute more than 2% of the global GDP, with Apple last year gaining the title of most valuable company in the world.
Men of ideas and vision, such as Steve Jobs, coupled with technology and science have the ability to create significant changes to the world we live in and to the wealth that we enjoy. ICT industries, however, are causing fundamental structural shifts in the way that traditional industries, societies and even politics behave. The structural shifts can be traumatic for those affected, as witnessed not only by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement taking place globally but also by the apparent inability of political leaders to find the answers to the resulting economic, financial and social problems. Converged technologies and social media are now enabling the so called 99% to stay as informed as the 1% while at the same time providing the mechanism for the 1% to more effectively engage, interact and tap into the collective knowledge and expectations of the people.
Connecting the Dots
We can all choose what to believe. If we recognize that change is ongoing, even if we don’t understand the change, with hindsight and a little insight it’s possible to take an optimistic path which will help to establish and rebuild our faith and trust in the emerging system. As Steve Jobs said: “Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference”. If politicians were to adopt this mindset, it might give them faith to tackle the global crisis and address the concern expressed by Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and President of the Eurogroup: “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it”.
At KeySo Global we are advisors and consultants about the impact of digital technology on society, business and individuals. Please contact us at email@example.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC