It started with a phone anchored to your car or your briefcase-"walking-around" communications that freed you from searching for a pay phone in order to talk outdoors.
Now telecommunications has morphed into movies on your phone, banking on the fly, an office wherever you go. Communication isn't just about people talking to people. It's about things talking to each other.
On a smarter planet, almost anything can become digitally aware, instrumented and interconnected. We have the connections, processors, analytics and capabilities powerful enough for trillions of devices to talk to each other and improve the way the world works. Smart houses can be programmed remotely. Smart cars talk to home base. Smart phones can practically replace your wallet. Smart highways can regulate traffic flows.
A typical U.S. 21-year-old has exchanged 250,000 e-mails, instant messages and phone text messages.
A busy signal is not an option
But the deluge of data from the trillions of smart objects is creating an insatiable demand for bandwidth. The infrastructure has had to grow up and keep up, sometimes at great struggle when you consider that:
The deluge of data from the trillions of smart objects is creating an insatiable demand for bandwidth.
The growth in bandwidth means greater potential for online identity theft, stolen intellectual property and malicious attacks such as spam, which by many estimates accounts for about 80% of transmitted e-mail.
Realising the potential of smarter telecommunications will require the infusion of new technologies and models into our systems to make it easier for devices to transmit and interpret data, provide more secure connections, and protect identities.
Technology to make our lives simpler
IBM Research and Development Director and Chief Technologist, Glenn Wightwick, examines how the true value of mobile technology is in its potential to simplify our increasingly complex lives.
Hear Sir Paul Callaghan, New Zealander of the Year and the founding Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Victoria University of Wellington, talk about ways to encourage the growth of technology, foster innovation in our universities and the role that private wealth can play in this field.
More than just talk
A fisherman in India can use a mobile phone as he approaches the dock to check current prices across multiple marketplaces and get the best price for his catch, boosting his income by nearly 50%.
A children's hospital in Australia reduces stress and confusion in the emergency room by replacing a loud overhead paging system with a hands-free, wireless voice network.
And two college students in different cities can use their mobile phones to log onto Facebook and organise a party with a group of friends for their upcoming holiday break.
We're here to help
Did you know?
AT&T's ancestor, The Bell Company, proposed a wireless phone in 1915 but shelved the idea in favor of its wired service.
1998 was a banner year for mobile commerce: The first purchase by cell phone was made (to a Coca-Cola machine), and a ring tone was the first downloaded content sale. Almost 4 billion subscribers of cell phones were expected by 2008, representing 21% of the world's adult and child population.
Creating smarter communications systems to handle increasingly demanding applications takes leading-edge information technology, forward-thinking business and industry expertise, and innovative research and development. IBM has joined forces with numerous telecommunications clients to make business smarter:
Reach out and touch someone-online
People used to keep in touch with a call. Now they are using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter-dramatically cutting into telcos'share of communications services. But there are opportunities. Read the new report (PDF, 325KB) The Changing Face of Communications.