Life after 4G
When wireless carriers moved from 3G to 4G offerings, it was arguably the first time customers could stream content on the go. Countries such as Hong Kong (2010), Japan (2010), Australia (2011), Singapore (2011) and South Korea (2011) were among the first markets to introduce 4G. And South Korea became the most advanced LTE market worldwide with 40 percent of the country's connection base on 4G LTE by late 2013, according to GSMA Intelligence. While more providers and technology companies are exploring 5G, are the networks ready for it? Moreover, what will 5G actually enable beyond what we have now? Studies have shown that increased mobile speeds enable people to simply consume more data. As unlimited data plans dwindle and more connected devices come online, will people be willing to foot the bill for the next-gen speeds of 5G? Is 5G going to be more than speed increase? Will it end up being an agile aware network than it will be more network and services agility? These are the questions service providers will need to ponder in the coming months.
The rise of HD... phone calls?
As 4K-quality video content poses challenges for network capacity, there's another (perhaps less sexy) HD technology brewing - phone calls. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is starting to crop up in feature lists for new smartphones, but in 2015 we anticipate consumers will start to finally notice a difference in voice quality between regular phone calls and VoLTE calls. No more, "Wait, say that again." Concurrently, we'll have to wait and see how such a service - which is taking a leap from its circuit network roots and low quality sampling to packet transport and almost Hi-Fi quality video - will impact both network capacity and security.
Room for mobile growth in Asia
While Asia is known for its high smartphone penetration, there is still room for growth for some countries. The Philippines has the lowest smartphone penetration with only 15 percent. This is followed by India (18 percent) and Indonesia (23 percent). Meanwhile, Thailand has a rather average adoption rate at 49 percent. This means that organizations have the opportunity to not only engage with unconnected subscribers, but also introduce new experiences and services including mobile advertising and mobile commerce.
Smart cities demand smart networks
Faced with rapid urbanization and dwindling resources, governments in the region are pushing for more "smart" sustainable cities. In Singapore's case, the government is looking to extend the concept of smart city island-wide with its Smart Nation initiative of using technology and data to improve the provision of services such as health care and transportation. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an even more ambitious plan; he declared that he will build 100 smart cities, in an effort to upgrade urban India. Modi's government announced a US$1.2 billion investment in smart cities over the next year, with more funding coming from private investors and abroad. These government-led initiatives create more opportunities for technology companies to grow in the region and need to be underpinned by intelligent networks.
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