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New Guest Blogger: David Pringle

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How long have you been in Telecom? What excites you the most about mobility? What disappoints you the most about mobility?

I have been covering the telecoms industry as a journalist since 1997, including a five-year spell as a technology-media-telecoms correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in London.  Between 2005 and 2009, I handled media relations for the GSMA, the mobile operator trade group. Since then, I have been a freelance writer, editor and content consultant in the telecoms sector.

I am most excited about the potential to use smartphones to bring online-style interactivity to offline experiences. What do I mean by that?  Here are a couple of examples: You are on a family holiday and trying to decide which of ten restaurants to have dinner in. So, you hold up your smartphone, press a button and up pops reviews of the restaurants you are looking at.

Or you walk into a conference hall and your phone alerts you that a dozen members of your social network are in the building, with arrows indicating the direction of each. Although such services exist today, they will become much better as the connectivity improves and smartphones pack more powerful processors and better displays.

My biggest disappointment is the inadequacy of smartphone batteries.  If you want your handset to last all day, you often need to turn off the data connection, so it no longer works in the background, potentially depriving yourself of the smart services I describe above.

To overcome the problem, we really need every smartphone to use the same charger, which could then be installed in cafes, offices and homes. When you stop for a coffee, you should be able to recharge your phone as well as your brain.

2.  

        In your opinion, what are the key market drivers, opportunities, and challenges for Service Providers?

Mobile operators are clearly in the midst of a tricky transition from providing bundles of voice, messaging and data services to providing connectivity.  Whereas demand for traditional voice and messaging services will decline, the potential demand for connectivity is enormous. The transition is tricky because mobile operators have to price these three different services in a way that ensures they remain competitive, but also enables them to generate enough revenues to keep investing in the network capacity needed to cope with the surge in traffic generated by smartphones, tablets and laptop dongles.

At the same time, mobile operators have an opportunity to provide a suite of enabling services to companies from other sectors. They are well-placed, for example, to authenticate and bill people without debit or credit cards.

The two biggest challenges for mobile operators are probably ensuring that their role in the mobile Internet value chain extends beyond simply providing connectivity and ensuring that they can get access to sufficient spectrum at a reasonable price.

3.  

        Where do you think mobility will be in 5-10 years from now?

That all depends on how much spectrum the mobile industry secures.  If the amount of spectrum available for mobile and wireless services remains very limited, downloadable apps will continue to be very important. They will store a lot of data and content on the device, to keep network traffic down to a minimum.  In this scenario, automated services will scan an individual’s calendar for the day ahead and download relevant information overnight, so that it is readily available the next day.

However, if the amount of spectrum available expands dramatically, the mobile Internet is going to offer a very dynamic experience, in which people continually have access to content and data about the world around them.  For example, shoppers will be able to point their handset at an item of clothing and then immediately see 360 degree images of how it would look on their body shape.  Moreover, mapping software will provide rich 3D images of nearby bars, restaurants, hotels and shops, complete with links to personalized videos highlighting products and services that fit best with the individual’s profile.

The future of mobility depends upon connectivity and that depends on spectrum.

I look forward to sharing more blog posts in the near future,

David Pringle

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