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The Path to New Generation Mobility and Its Impact on People

Renato FurtadoIssue:Latin America 2002
Article no.:12
Topic:The Path to New Generation Mobility and Its Impact on People
Author:Renato Furtado
Organisation:Lucent Technologies, Brazil
PDF size:20KB

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Article abstract

Mobile services, due primarily to pre-paid services, have grown enormously in the last ten years; there will soon be more mobile than wireline phones in the world. Coming generations of broadband, high speed, wireless technology will bring a wide range of new services. Future generations of wireless devices will link all sorts of electronic devices, including cell phones, cars and household appliances and allow them to interact and work together to automatically anticipate certain needs or request services without human intervention.


Full Article

Ten years ago, when the virtual world was merely a black screen displaying green characters attached to a plain keyboard, someone imagined the possibility of connecting personal computers for interaction. It was a successful idea: two PCs exchanged information and the BBS (Bulletin Board System), Brazil's first virtual communication system, came into existence. At that time, it was hard to imagine the limits of the technology's evolution and the impact of this new form of communication on people's lives. The BBS system enabled only the exchange of messages. Access speed of BBS' servers could not reach 60 bps - believe it or not. By mid- 1990, the market started evolving towards a new era. The key players in the sector, IBM and Microsoft, went separate ways. While IBM continued to enhance and market its OS/2 operational system, Microsoft focused all efforts on Windows, transforming it into the first operational system to be pre-installed in most PCs worldwide. Mobile, and even wireline, phones were luxury items for most Brazilians in those years; only a small portion of the population had access to these services. At that time, a wireline phone line cost around four thousand dollars in Brazil. Things have changed substantially. By the end of 1997, operators started a movement toward universalization and a new scenario emerged in function of the growth of mobile telephony. The founding of ANATEL - Brazil's telecommunications regulatory agency and consumer protector - anticipated the privatization of Telebrás, the government controlled public telephone system, in 1998. These changes generated an ongoing process of technological evolution and growth. In 1994, only 13 million people in Brazil had wireline phones, a basic requirement for Internet access. Currently, there are more than 70 million installed wireline and wireless subscribers in the country. The launching of the pre-paid system for mobile communication generated a large increase in the number of users - from 4.6 million in 1997, to more than 31.5 million in 2002. This number is expected to just about double by end of 2005. During this period, the Brazilian Internet was strengthened and grew twice as fast as the world average, reinforcing its leading position in Latin America. This substantial growth was mainly due to the effective dissemination of access and information by service providers and the availability of the entire portfolio of web-related services. Although growth has been remarkable, there is still great potential for expansion considering the possibility of wireless broadband highways that can be implemented in the country at low cost. Another key factor also responsible for the increasing number of Internet users in Brazil was the advent of free access services providers during the Web´s remarkable "boom" in the last three years. Several players emerged simultaneously in the market, but many are no longer operating. Market survivors are continuously searching for new ways to increase revenue and are still struggling to define an appropriate business model. Most Internet services providers have sold their database structure, the so-called Internet data centres, to operators. These operators have been investing heavily in storage centres in order to ensure geographic coverage throughout the country and, also, to be able to charge inter-connection fees outside their authorized areas of activity. In the telecom industry, new concepts are also being adopted and, currently, most investment is focused on new- generation services that will enable wireline and wireless, data and voice convergence. Next- Generation Services The recorded growth of pre-paid subscribers, mainly within the lower socio-economic C and D classes, surpassed market expectations and was, in many ways, a positive incentive for the industry. Just to give us an idea of the impact pre-paid service has had on the market, the number of mobile devices in Brazil and the world has increased so rapidly that wireless might soon surpass the number of wireline phones. We can illustrate the benefits brought by pre-paid mobiles: people's lives and day-to-day activities have changed; the new facilities make their activities more productive. They spend less, out-of-pocket, to perform their jobs. They can resolve many problems just using their mobile phones. The phones eliminate much time lost and money spent with transportation and allows them to deal with several matters, in separate locations, at the same time. A new mobility concept of robust anywhere, anytime connections, more convenient and secure, is being developed based on the evolution of high - speed, broadband, networks - one of the first step towards the forth- generation (4G) in mobile communications. Before considering this wonderful world, full of new possibilities, let us analyse the path the updating of current technologies - that will lead to 4G. Currently, technological evolution, especially for CDMA, is now in a transition between the second and the third generations known as the 2.5 generation - 2.5G. The 2.5G provides data transmission speed rates of up to 144 kbps (kilobits per second). At this speed, it can provide mobile Internet services such as the Zaap, which in Brazil is offered by Telesp Celular in São Paulo and uses the CDMA2000 1X standard. This service provides only a small portion of the huge increase in capacity promised by the third generation. In this transition to 3G, the competition among operators will get tougher and tougher as time goes by, as each seeks to outdo the other by launching increasingly sophisticated services and ever higher speed. The facilities that technological evolution make available today will have a direct impact on people. Technology will permit electronic devices to communicate with each other without a wire running between them. Chips will connect several electrical and electronic devices, such as mobile phones and household appliances, and allow them to interact. Bluetooth is a technology that makes this possible by enabling devices to communicate wirelessly over short distances using radio waves for voice and data transmission. Can we possibly imagine the impact this technology will have on everyone's daily life, when it becomes available at a fair cost? Ordinary appliances - TV sets, refrigerators, all sorts of safety and security devices and energy (light or cooling) saving devices, among others - will all be able to work together, coordinated by a PC, laptop or mobile phone. The microwave oven, for example, might signal a PC that it is about to fail. The PC, then, would send an e-mail with information about the problem to a neighbourhood repair service. The washing machine would send information about the timing of the washing cycle to the same PC, which could alter the cycle based on the contents of the wash load. Refrigerators could use the same system to signal when you take the last beer from the shelf. By sending an urgent message - through a delivery service - to buy a six-pack of beer from the local supermarket, you might even get it before you finish drinking that last can. "Imagine walking down the corridors of a shopping mall where every store sends messages about offers and sales directly to your mobile phone and directs you to their exact location." Devices such as these will facilitate the development of media especially for local communications. Imagine walking down the corridors of a shopping mall where every store sends messages about offers and sales directly to your mobile phone and directs you to their exact location. Automobiles will be fitted with new wireless devices for mobile inquiries and automotive service- related functions. Innovative browsing systems are being developed that can signal your car's location to a central system that will precisely monitor the route to the destination you have defined. In addition, sensors will be able to monitor your vehicle's performance and send signals to your dealer for remote electronic diagnosis of needed parts and repairs. Car safety requirements, and customer expectations, might become stricter with these new technologies. The car owner will be able to remotely disconnect the vehicle in case it gets stolen. Airbags might activate a connected device, in case of an accident, and automatically send a request for help, with your location and information about the accident, to an emergency response service. This can be done now; the greatest challenge, at the moment, is how to reduce the costs of these services for end-users. Everybody involved in the process needs to review the benefits, costs and returns and economically scale the service to be able to market it. Installed networks already have the capacity to absorb a great many new revenue- generating applications and to connect many more people to companies and services in this new world. Investment Protection On the path to the new generation of the dynamic mobile telephony, CDMA2000 1X technology has proved to be the fastest and most appropriate way to get there. Operators that have already installed a CDMA- based network infrastructure have protected their investments. This technology has been leading the 3G evolutionary process worldwide. CDMA is used by 99% of all 2.5/3G end-users - more then 15 million people in all. This number is growing by more than 1 million new subscribers per month. Currently, 30 major handset suppliers are selling more than 145 models of CDMA2000 and 1X handsets. CDMA is the base 3G technology for the CDMA2000 systems used in the Americas, Korea, China and other Asian countries, as well as the UMTS/WCDMA system defined for Europe. Operators who chose CDMA technology, now have the best relation among network infrastructure, subscribers and return on investments. This is a direct consequence of the revenue increase generated by CDMA- supported vertical markets such as telemetry and machine-to-machine communications. In horizontal markets, corporate users can count on CDMA- supported multimedia applications for e-learning with full mobility. In all these cases, investments provide immediate access to a wide range of services and revenue improvement. The New World New generation will bring a better world. People will interact more rapidly, anywhere and anytime. Services and knowledge will be available to everyone at low cost. Universal access to these services will permit more people to take part in the worldwide economy and greatly improve the productivity and lives of the population. The way we relate and do business will be improved. Virtual enterprises will become more common. It is great to be part of a company that has a leading role in the development of technology to build this "New World".

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