CommunicAsia in Singapore was, for me, a wonderful condensation of the Asian mobility and broadband scenario. It left me with little doubt that the mobile phone will increasingly be at the centre of our lives. And with broadband connectivity over both wireline and wireless networks, tomorrows world is waiting to be catalysed and capitalised upon. This opportunity is likely to be even bigger than the Internet.
I have excerpted here some of my thoughts on CommunicAsia, mobility and broadband from my Business Standard column which I wrote shortly after my return.
The conference sessions were focused around the telecom scenario in Asia. They provided a fascinating glimpse of the region with different countries at different stages in the evolution of their communications and services infrastructure. The leaders are undoubtedly Japan and South Korea, while the two biggest opportunities are China and India. Taiwan and Singapore are racing ahead to deploy broadband, 3G and wireless LANs. Hong Kong has the best IP-TV service. An interesting fact: last year, nearly a million new mobile users added every day. The world now has 1.8 billion mobile users.
Two words that were heard a lot at the conference were convergence and ecosystem. Convergence is finally becoming a reality as the next-generation networks with all-IP cores are making it possible to have triple play services (voice, data and video) flow over the same network. Convergence is also happening in terms of the fixed line and wireless worlds in both the networks and handsets. Convergence technology drivers include SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and IMS (IP Multimedia System). There will be a time soon when our handsets will support WiFi and GSM/CDMA, such that in hotspots they would use WiFi to make and receive calls, while at other locations they would use the cellular networks.
Ecosystem is about the realization that there is no single company which has all the answers, and there is a web of relationships to deliver valuable services to consumers and enterprises. Operators control the networks (and the customer relationships), but they need a combination of cheaper access devices and compelling services to drive traffic and revenues. An ecosystem approach is about creating win-win scenarios for the entire value chain.
The vision for the future is simple, seamless and personal communications from wireline and wireless networks. Tomorrows world will be one where users will be able to communicate anytime, anywhere from the device of their choice. Users will be able to define their own experiences, and the network will become more intelligent to bring highly personalised services to users. All of this will bring about a significant lifestyle change for consumers and also enable the real-time enterprise.
The dream of this world of seamless mobility has been there for many years. But the work that has been happening in the background is now making it all possible. Parallel trends in digitisation are making a huge array of content available to us on any of the screens TV, PC or the mobile. The focal point is now shifting from the network to the user. What people really want is to be connected, informed, entertained and do so in their own way. Whether one is at home or work, commuting or in public places, the networks will connect us to friends, family, colleagues at work, and our business information.
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