BY MIKA SKARP
At one time, telephone networks were standardized simply in order to increase their interoperability.
This standardization was later pushed further by the need for compatibility with an ever widening array of equipment, opening up the market for the very affordable technologies now available all over the world.
All of this has caused the system of norms and standards to become increasingly hierarchical. This leads us back to the question where Gs come from;
The quick answer is Switzerland.
The ITU (International Telecommunications Union), which is headquartered in Geneva, defines mobile network generations. 3GPP, for example, is now making proposals about the specifications of the 5G network just as it has for previous networks. Organizations like the ITU receive funds from both telecom companies and governments, illustrating the extent to which mobile operators and politicians are very well aware of the process that lies behind the generation of a “G”.
Last week, Verizon’s announcement to start testing 5G in 2016 and making it available for consumers by 2017 hit the news. These headlines follow announcements from Korea to make 5G available at the 2018 Winter Olympics as well as from Japan to do the same at the 2020 Summer Olympics. These plans are rather remarkable given that the ITU will not publish recommendations regarding 5G before the year 2020.
What does this mean for the industry? To answer that questions, there are two question that must first be posed.
1) Is current standardization methodology outdated and should it be replaced by something new?
2) Does competition around Gs get out of control?
Telecom businesses are worth more than 1 tillion USD annually. The challenge is, however, that 60% of this value is coming from voice calls. In many parts of the world expensive calls pay the bill for low cost data. However, new data packages are far more successful than the traditional call and messaging services, that are demanded less every year. Profitability will be a real problem for the telecom industry in the years to come; thus there is a need for reinvented pricing models in order to make up for the disappearing call revenues.