Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

The following is a guest post from Eric Riddleberger, Strategy and Transformation Leader for IBM’s North American Communications Sector.

In the coming days, the FCC will deliver its National Broadband Plan to Congress — a plan of action to ensure all Americans have access to broadband. At IBM, we believe broadband access is a fundamental building block for regional economic development and agree with the FCC that it should be a national priority [see WSJ op-ed]. According to research firm IDC, 71 million U.S. households (60.9%) were able to access broadband by the end of 2009, but incredulously, 46 million U.S. households (39.1%) are still without.

For the nearly 40 percent of Americans that have no high speed Internet access today, the prospect of gaining access means not only connecting to the rest of the world, but making those things urban Americans take for granted possible: things like shopping online, working from home, and researching medical care options.

But consumers aren’t the only ones that will be impacted by proposed broadband legislation. What will universal access to broadband mean for the telecommunications industry?

IBM surveyed over 8,000 consumers and 60 senior executives from more than 40 communication service providers globally to examine how the industry should evolve in the next five years in the wake of increased competition in the service provider community.

The findings:

Fixed telephony will all but disappear in the next decade. Mobile broadband will come of age. The ways in which people communicate are shifting from point-to-point and two-way conversations, to many-to-many, collaborative communications.
This shift is fundamentally changing the way people and businesses around the world communicate, share information, and drive progress.Consumer usage of so-called “fixed voice telephony” (such as land lines still used in some homes) will decrease by 95% in the next 5-10 years; Consumer usage of mobile/wireless broadband will increase by 98% in the next 5-10 years.

The new mandate:

Pervasive broadband infrastructure will be a powerful source of new jobs and economic growth, due in large part to the telecommunications industry’s long-term investments in new services and business models that provide a constructive way to address a variety of public challenges, including healthcare, education, homeland security and workforce/economic development. For example, house-bound patients can be monitored by their physicians via Web-enabled devices that track heart or blood sugar rate.

The ways the telecommunications industry must prepare:

1. Prioritize customer experience investments. Of those service providers surveyed, 61 percent plan to invest more in customer and network analytics, enabling them to deliver more personalized customer experiences, reduce churn and better manage costs by understanding customer behavior, anticipating their needs, and analyzing usage patterns to improve operational efficiencies. Consumers stated they chose providers based on three factors: Cost (75%), Network (70%) and Service (58%).

2. Promote open platforms and ecosystems; they must provide universal access to all types of devices. Of those surveyed, understanding that ubiquity is key in the next decade, 70 percent believe an interaction model that allows access to content with any device (PC, TV, phone, etc.) from any provider will prevail.

3. Invest in, and support the development of, applications outside of the consumer space, driven by increased inter-connectivity and universal broadband access.

IBM provides products and services that create, deliver and manage new telecommunications, digital media and Internet-based services smarter, faster and at a lower cost. For example, through online electronic health records, remote monitoring of vital statistics and on-demand transmission of patient data, medical facilities and patients alike are finding that broadband can help save time, money and lives – especially when the communications infrastructure is extended to rural areas that aren’t served by a local hospital or clinic.

Realizing the potential of smarter communication technology will require the infusion of new capabilities and models into our systems to make it easier for devices to transmit and interpret data, provide more secure connections, and protect identities. The telecommunications industry is in a position to lead, by participating in the national dialogue, and taking important steps to extend the reach and application of broadband infrastructure for Americans.

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As with all legacy utilities, they tend to stick around for a long time unless people are forced to change. I doubt that everyone will change to more expensive services (e.g. smartphones) unless there is actually a need. And with legacy services becoming commodity (i.e. cheap), it will be another reason for people to hold on. I don’t see landlines disappearing (or decreasing 95%) in the next 5 to 10 years.

Posted by: David
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One company who is doing this is Vocera Communications. The Vocera wireless communication system works over an 802.11 networked system, has voice activated badges, iPhone and Blackberry applications, and their own smartphone. Enabling workers to contact their team whenever and wherever they need to. It’s currently designed to work in Healthcare, Hospitality and Educational environments, but can easily be adapted to other industries.

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10:38 am

I seriously doubt that landlines will decrease by 95% in the next 5 to 10 years. That percentage is too high. Mobile/wireless broadband, however, is likely to increase far more than 98% in the next 5 to 10 years. I believe that percentage could come only from sources outside the wireless industry. If you were to take the average usage on Clearwire’s wimax usage and factor in subscriber gains for the next 10 years on their network, add in AT&T’s and Verizon’s LTE plans, and I think you’ll have usage that’s many, many, many times what it is today.

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February 28, 2010
5:00 pm

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