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Demand is skyrocketing for more and smarter ways to communicate. Can we keep up?

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Communication Technology

It's more than talk
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 personal communication technology has morphed into movies on your phone, an office wherever you go, social networks and streaming media as constant companions.

Industries and municipalities are also coming up with new ways to improve lives using broadband. Simply put, healthcare, education, utilities and other vital services will never be the same, thanks to creative thinking and high-speed data transfer.

On a smarter planet, almost anything can become digitally aware, instrumented and interconnected. We have the connections, processors, analytics and capabilities (PDF, 106KB) powerful enough for trillions of devices to talk to each other and improve the way the world works.

A busy signal is not an option
The infrastructure's need to grow up and the telcos' need to keep up come at great struggle when you consider that worldwide consumer broadband connections are predicted to increase 7.9% from 367.6 million in 2008 to 498.8 million in 2012.

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. And new ways for traditional telcos to stay strong and relevant—for example, through moving into adjacent markets (telemediacy) such as healthcare and transportation, and maintaining the backbone for two-way smart utility meters, to name two.

Global consumer internet traffic forecast, 2006-2012. Internet video to TV 104%. Internet video to PC 57%. VoIP 24%. Video communications 44%. Gaming 30%. P2P 31%. Web/data 34%. Source: Global consumer Internet traffic forecast, 2006-2012.

The deluge of data from trillions of smart objects is creating an insatiable demand for bandwidth.


 

The Bottom Line: Telecom TV and IBM

 

Episode 1: Watch the Bottom Line video on how IBM helps the telecommunications indurstry create and use smarter communication technology.

Episode 1: Smarter Telecom: A Curtain Raiser
As our physical and digital infrastructures converge, service providers have a unique opportunity to significantly improve their bottom line.

Episode 2: Watch the Bottom Line video on how IBM helps the global Intelligent Communication Technology (ICT) sector leverage new business models with smarter communication technology.

Episode 2: Growth vs. Mature markets
The emerging markets have witnessed tremendous growth, even leapfrogging their counterparts with new, exciting wireless applications at incredibly low prices.

Episode 3: Watch the Bottom Line video on how IBM helps service providers innovate with smarter communication technology at the accelerating rate of change in the global Intelligent Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

Episode 3: The 3 strategic imperatives for service providers
Service providers must:

Episode 4: The Doctor is In
The e-healthcare market holds immense potential: to help ensure patients get the right care, with the right clinicians, for the right outcomes.

Episode 5: Meters and Transportation
Communications technology can make our transportation systems, from roads to railways to waterways, smarter.

Episode 6: Smart Education
With modern communications technology and the increasing availability of broadband access, we have the opportunity to make education available to just about everyone on earth.

Episode 7: Smarter Cities and Homes
A city is a "system of systems," providing and delivering services based on communications networks and infrastructures.

Episode 8: Smarter Consumers
Today's consumers are smarter, better interconnected and more empowered than ever before, offering new challenges and opportunities for service providers.


 

AT&T ancestor, The Bell Comany, proposed a wireless phone in 1915 but shelved the ide 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 ringtone 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 children population.

Extending broadband's reach
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. Billions in healthcare spending on eldercare and the chronically ill could be saved through the use of telemedicine, which reduces the need for onsite visits, hospitalization and assisted-living care.

National and local governments worldwide are shoring up their communications infrastructures by devoting millions to stronger, more extensive broadband availability. For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides US$7.2 billion in grants, loans, and loan guarantees to deploy broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, and encourage development of distance learning and telemedicine. And the Australian government is sponsoring the National Broadband Network (NBN), an AUS$43 billion fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network meant to provide 100 MBps broadband access to 90% of Australians over the next eight years.

In addition to enabling microdonations worldwide via texts sent to aid organizations, wireless connections directly saved several people trapped in the rubble of the Haitian earthquake: a U.S filmmaker survived his injuries by consulting a first-aid smartphone app (link resides outside of IBM), and a mother and daughter sent text messages that led to their rescue (link resides outside of IBM).


 

Telco 2015: Five telling years, four future scenarios
Keeping the communications infrastructure strong and encouraging its growth will require telecommunications companies to expand, adapt and modernize. New business models and partnerships, telemediacy and real-time analytics are vital for telcos' continued survival. Read more in the IBM Institute for Business Value study: Telco 2015: Five telling years, four future scenarios.

The rollout of 4G networks and growing use of smartphones will help double data services revenue by 2013.

What do you think? What's the #1 thing you do on your mobile phone? Take our poll.