Consider the raw figures for a moment: Ericsson says that by 2017, half the world's population will have access to 4G networks. It believes that smartphone subscriptions will reach around 3 billion in five years' time.
The world's population currently stands at just over 7 billion people.
Of course, the world's population will be bigger by 2017 and many people are likely to own more than just one smartphone. Still, it is a remarkable prediction, suggesting that many people's first experience of the Internet, video, services like banking and key social interactions will happen through a small wireless computing device they carry with them.
We can already see this through the growth in popularity of mobile payments in Africa and India.
It also makes me think the world's operators and vendors will have no time to rest on their laurels. Many things will need to get cheaper and more streamlined, including:
- Next-generation handsets
- 4G data plans
- Mobile backhaul, especially for small cells
Clearly, a $200-plus phone and an $80-a-month plan are just not an option for many in the U.S., let alone parts of the rest of world. So, if these predictions are to come to pass, a move to less expensive devices and plans has to be part of the equation.
Let's not even get into the vexed issue of spectrum availability this time around. It seems that no matter what happens, 4G will change the world, one way or another.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile