Services to Fuel Technology Trends
By TheFeature.com, Wed Mar 20 00:00:00 GMT 2002

Let's focus on services and applications rather than technologies say senior executives at Orange, Nokia, Siemens, T-mobile and AT&T Wireless.


Question (TheFeature.com): What new technologies will drive the wireless industry over the next three to five years?



Answer (Mohan Gyani, President of AT&T Wireless Mobility Group):
There is no need to speculate about the future here. Our industry must create 3G networks to handle all the exciting new applications that are just around the corner. But we must create our future by choosing the right technology path now to get to 3G. For AT&T Wireless and many others in the industry, that path is GSM/GPRS. It is the true global and gold standard in next-generation technology. GSM represents 67 percent of the world’s wireless market and is the system of choice in more than 150 countries. Forty-seven GPRS networks are already in service covering about 160 million potential subscribers. And, as a packet-based data transmission technology, GPRS uniquely enables high-speed wireless Internet and other data communications applications. Why is a global standard important? Because it will ensure the proliferation of the cool devices and hot applications that motivate people to use wireless services in the first place.



Answer (Jorma Ollila, Chairman and CEO of Nokia):
As the number of enabling technologies and standards grows, the complexity of our business increases. At Nokia, we see a future global mass volume services market being driven by open standards and common software platforms.

In terms of products, the key enabling technologies that we believe will be optimized during the next few years are: Multimedia messaging (MMS), WAP 2.0/XHTML, Java, packet data and color displays.

MMS will be at the core of the new mobile services market and is likely to have similar growth potential to the very successful SMS, but within a shorter timeframe. More than half of Nokia´s products at the end of 2002 are planned to be MMS-enabled, with expectations for mass volumes within the next couple of years.

XHTML bridges the gap between WAP and the web, and will make practically all web content accessible via future mobile phones with browsers. Nokia plans to launch its first WAP 2.0/XHTML enabled handset during 2H 2002.

Java™ technology, in turn, enables the on-line usage of advanced applications with mobile devices, as well as providing a standard programming language for third parties. Nokia believes that 2002 will see mass-market proliferation of mobile terminals supporting Java technology.

All these enabling technologies will be strongly impacted by the high-speed data transfer and continuous network access of GPRS technology, evolving into 3G from the second half of this year, opening up whole new worlds for application and service developers.

But while technology provides the platform for future services, it is the people using them who drive the industry forward. Everyone of us as a consumer will ultimately decide what our personal, social and business needs are and how ultimately the technologies will be developed and used.



Answer (John Allwood, Executive VP of Orange UK):
Services, not technology will drive the wireless industry over the next few years. Picture messaging and video content will be extremely popular in the near future, and customers should not have to think about the delivery technology, they should simply experience seamless access to great services.

The most popular service offered by our industry will continue to be voice communication. However, UMTS will enable a host of different types of life services that will change the way people interact, entertain themselves or shop - all of which will greatly increase network usage.



Answer (Rudi Lamprecht, President & CEO of Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group):
Without a doubt 3G will be the new wireless technology for the wireless industry. Siemens is already showing its commitment and determination to play a major role in this. An example of this is the installation of the first UMTS networks on the Isle of Man and in Monaco. But it’s not the technologies alone that will drive the industry –it’s the interconnectedness of these technologies that will be most compelling. That is what will drive the wireless industry. There will be a stronger need for interconnection between UMTS and different technologies such as GSM, Wireless-LAN and Bluetooth, enabling the seamless inter-working of mobile and fixed network services and applications.

The way forward is not to modify applications for a mobile world but to create applications with a mobile world and a mobile user in mind.



Answer (Nikesh Arora, CEO of T-Mobile online, Deutche Telekom's mobile portal business):
It’s very important to think of technologies within the context of the applications they enable. Many think we over-indulge in modern technology for its own sake, and haven’t spent enough time thinking about what to do with it, what its true impact can be.

Consider the fixed Internet. Nobody ever complained that the Internet works over a modem – or really asked if it will be the modem or ISDN that becomes the key enabler of the new medium. The mind-boggling growth of the fixed Internet wasn’t hindered by our antiquated 2400-baud modems; it was enabled by it.

If we focus on usability and what people can do with mobile data, we’ll find ways of optimizing the underlying technology. But if we put the cart before the horse and focus our energy on the technology itself, we run the risk of doing more harm than good. We could fall prey to the same vicious circle that technology has burdened us with since well before we had the Internet to worry about. There will always be the “next big thing” in the labs that holds more promise than what we have today, and our eyes risk being set on the horizon rather than our fingertips.

But of course it’s a paradox. If you don’t improve upon existing technology then you run the risk of atrophy. At some point we’ll have to strike a careful balance by making the best use of existing technology and encouraging responsible development and marketing of tomorrow’s services. That, of course, is easier said than done.

It's Mobile Vision week on TheFeature! TheFeature.com offers, in parallel to CTIA, its readers leading executive insights into the outlook of the mobile Internet in 3 to 5 years from now. Stay tuned!