“The cell phone is the new computer”
This is what I can read from many different sources in the last few weeks.
The evolution of mobile devices seems to lead to this way. UMPCs are becoming popular and mobile phones are evolving at a very fast pace offering to customers performances very similar to personal computer.
It really seems that the statement will become true.
One thing that people do not seem to consider is the counter side of the mobile phone or the UMPC: the network.
Simplifying our analysis let’s consider the Italian market. We have 4 mobile operators here: TIM, Vodafone, Wind, and Tre. I have ordered them according the the public numbers of their customer base.
The technologies available to these operators to transfer data between the mobile phone and the network are: GPRS, EDGE, UMTS/HSPA. In Italy we do not have any other mean of transferring data while on the move. WiFi has a very limited penetration and only in the last year we began talking about WiMax.
Will these operators be ready to sustain the evolution of the mobile phone to the only device that the user will use to access the Internet?
Well, I do not think so.
A simple example. Just have a look at this post from Martin Sauter talking about VoIP. The post is quite old but it is a perfect example of what I am talking about.
That’s simple: Devices are ready to take this quantum leap, network capacity is not (yet) ready.
I do not really think that today Italian operators would be ready to sustain the data traffic generated by their customer base.
This is something that is going to be a problem in the next few years.
Network growth should follow mobile device evolution or we will have a problem.
LTE (Long Term Evolution) and other technologies seems promising in solving these issues but they require huge investments on the network side and I am wondering which operators will be willing to spend this money.
Why do I blog this? Sometimes we tend to forget that there is also a network to consider.
I heard this a few years ago in Germany too. Its an important point and could be the reason that prices for data are kept high. To reduce demand.
Currently, early adopters are having a nice time surfing on 3G networks but that could change quickly if the number of users rises.
That’s exactly the point. And I think it is the reason why we do not see any real flat data plan on the market today.