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With the continued growth and deployment of LTE networks, almost any device can be wirelessly enabled to provide consumers with an entirely new connectivity experience. From mobile phones to interactive tabletops, LTE is transforming the way we connect with the world around us. By adding to everyday “devices” the ability to instantaneously share a picture, purchase a song, or livestream a baseball game, it’s interesting to see how an ultra-broadband wireless technology can create a web that keeps us much more connected than any 2G, 3G or Wi-Fi network ever could in the past.
As 2G led to 3G, and now to 4G, faster networks with improved latency led to more devices and more content. In 2007, the mobile market was made up of about 10 million smartphone and tablet users. Fast forward three years to 2010 where we saw the market explode to 289 million smartphone and tablet users, and 11 billion apps downloaded. Consumers are connecting from multiple devices using various apps. As users continue to explore devices and apps, they are connecting from all over – at home, in the car, at the mall – and this opens the door to new opportunities for industries and service providers to connect with consumers. One ecosystem of companies is already developing next-generation technologies that explore where LTE can take us and the new business models it can spur.
The Ng Connect Program is an ecosystem of 50-plus companies across multiple industries including telecom, automotive, retail, gaming and more, all committed to driving consumer adoption of next generation technologies, including LTE. They are working together with other member companies, as well as with service providers, to accelerate the development of devices, interactive applications and services to run over LTE and ultra-broadband networks allowing consumers to experience a “connected lifestyle” by having a personalized, interactive experience wherever they go.
In previous iterations of wireless technologies, the service providers were not in sync with the device manufacturers and the content developers. Many times developments on the device and content side lagged behind the networks. In addition, many of the advanced network features such as quality of service or directory services were not simple to access. The networks were there, but where was the compelling service?
The software revolution and the Internet have driven a model where service creation can and must be done in much faster cycles. Service providers, both for internal and open innovation reasons, have responded by launching programs for applications enablement using Web-based models. Simultaneously, by having all levels of the digital media ecosystem working together, the networks are ready to support the applications, mobile phones, tablets and other handhelds, and these new devices have been ready to go on sale close to, or even sometimes along with, the network availability.
This synergy lets consumers take advantage of new services and products immediately, which often results in a more defined loyalty to their provider and an ability for service providers to monetize their networks in new ways, and more quickly. One possibility for additional monetize is new tiers of network access to consumers and businesses. With the growth of Internet-based services for consumers such as movie streaming and soon new devices, like in-car access, and businesses whose usage expectations have changed – for instance stores that support new touchscreen digital signage – tiered options from service providers will allow people to pay for what they need in terms of bandwidth. Advertising could also be included in the new applications, adding another source of revenue. Ng Connect has developed service concepts to demonstrate the possibilities to all the different industries, as well as to consumers themselves. One concept is known as the Media Hotspot – a digital jukebox that allows consumers to listen to or watch and then instantly purchase their favorite music, movies and other media via their mobile phones, using 4G/LTE connectivity.
Another industry example is the entertainment industry, including sports arenas and rock venues. Now with a hyper-connected experience, event attendees can use their mobile devices to order food or merchandise to be delivered to their seats, access facility maps to find bathrooms and concessions, interact with other attendees and even access live camera feeds via LTE video support to see the event from all angles and watch instant replays. Businesses and service providers can benefit from increased sales, entry into new value chains through high bandwidth services, and increased customer loyalty.
The always on, always connected mentality will continue to be amplified by LTE and new service creation models in the coming months but these technologies are not the end of the line for next generation mobile broadband either. These technologies will continue to evolve and we will move beyond LTE. Innovations in these industries and more will continue to accelerate. Pushing it forward will be organizations like Ng Connect, showing the possibilities and helping to drive the creation of new applications and devices from an idea to a product or service in record time.