Telecom Asia

2001 visionary answer sheet – Tanner

2001 visionary answer sheet – Tanner – Brief Article

John C. Tanner

The fabled year of 2001 is now history, and while it wasn’t exactly what Kubrick and Clarke envisioned, few people really expected it to take that path.

That said, there were plenty of other expectations for 2001, which was always going to be a year for the visionaries and trendwatchers.

January 2001 saw a rash of predictions lists covering all sorts of things, to include telecoms/IT technology, and Telecom Asia was no exception. So, to keep that sense of perspective that reality so desperately needs, it’s time to dust off our top ten telecoms trends for 2001, and check our work.

Right and wrong

3G will arrive — but no one will notice: True, particularly in Korea, where they’ve had 3G in the form of cdma2000 1x since October 2000. Even the Ministry of Communications didn’t realize Korea was the world’s first 3G market until last month, though that’s understandable — after all, why would cellcos pay millions for 2-GHz 3G spectrum when they already offer 3G services?

Security will be a much larger issue for service providers and online businesses: True, although that didn’t translate into action. The CERT Coordination Center In the US registered over 34,000 security incidents in the first three quarters of 2001 — almost 13,000 more than all the incidents reported in 2000. Many were due to server glitches, patches for which had been available for up to six months after some incidents were reported.

M&A madness: True, more or less. Several planned deals didn’t come through, but SingTel did get Optus and Vodafone took over Japan Telecom, while many big vendors sold off non-core businesses.

The year of the MAN: True, particularly in Korea, where broadband access is so high the metro rings can’t keep up, and China, which needs spruced up metro networks as its overall infrastructure grows.

IP will finally pay: True, but not very much. Data service revenues overall are looking good for some carriers — data is now SingTel’s largest revenue contributor, for example — but IP-based value-adds services like IP fax, IP-VPNs, and unified messaging haven’t progressed much in terms of take-up or revenue.

SMS — and WAP — will still dominate mobile data: Well, SMS certainly has, registering an estimated 1 billion messages per day at the end of the year. WAP has been less fortunate, with WAP 2.0 products delayed until this year.

Bandwidth prices will fall: OK, it’s a no-brainer, but they did fall massively once again. Telcos will struggle for control of the local loop: True, though some struggled more than others. Interconnect is still a headache for would-be competitors in many markets, while alternatives like cable telephony have been slow in coming — VoDSL even more so.

China — more boom and confusion: True on both counts. In the past year, China has bucked the economic trend and become the world’s largest wireless market, while Internet services continue to grow nicely. China’s shiny new WTO membership may help, but China has remained ambiguous as to its WTO-related reforms, and it will be several years before those changes kick in.

The downing of the handset old guard: Not exactly. The “Big Three” still rule, although a panicky Ericsson has shacked up with Sony. And Samsung has moved into fourth place in the world rankings.

And so much for 2001.

So what’s in store for 2002, aside from more economic pain and America’s war on terrorism? Those two factors alone make 2002 a tough call. So, to play it safe, here’s ten telecoms trends or events you WON’T see in 2002. In no particular order:

Bluetooth mania: Not until the spec improves — the headset novelty wears off once the quality gets annoying and enough people stare at you. And forget about Bluetooth home networking with Wi-Fi in the house.

LMDS networks will roll out: Hong Kong once had five LMDS licensees. It now has two, and one is considering giving up. `Nuff said.

3G networks will roll out: Except in Japan and Korea, as usual.

The Net becomes secure after last year’s worm attacks and 9/11: Not as long as the US government insists on back doors for law enforcement purposes, and not as long as people are still physically unable to resist clicking that .EXE file to see some useless cartoon.

CDMA takes China by storm: Actually, this might happen, but not this year.

Pay-per-view broadband content: You might see it, but you won’t see a lot of users paying for it — not unless it’s cheaper than dirt, or at least cheaper than broadcast PPV, and works as well.

Unified communications becomes insanely popular: Why? We have cell phones, SMS, voice mail and call forwarding. Even discounting all that, does anyone REALLY want to have their email and faxes read to them over the phone?

Incumbents will stop stalling and cheerfully provide interconnect: They’d rather die, honestly.

OSS declared the sexiest tech sector alive: But then, you are prepared to live with this.

Breakthroughs in telepathy: Sorry, not this year.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Advanstar Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group