The Future of Cellular

We are in the generation of personalization and communication. Everything is about when and how we want it; personalized to our taste. After reading about cellular technology, I was reminded how much buzz MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) such as Helio and Amp’d Mobile are getting by providing this on the mobile communications front. You can customize your phone; now customize your cellular company.

Helio’s push is providing a high-speed mobile connection to your MySpace account. I think this is a good business model. Is social networking from your phone the really the next “killer app” for mobiles?

As more and more of the MySpace generation gets their first cell phone, mobile companies are spending billions to increase network speed. T-Mobile USA, for instance, plans on spending an estimated 10 billion to bid on spectrum rights this August and build out a new HSDPA infrastructure to provide higher network data capacity (up to 14.4 Mbit/s).

GSM networks gave us low bandwidth data transfers, adding an asynchronous element to mobile communications. Text messaging (SMS) has given us an efficient way to communicate in less time. GPRS, and the like, give us the so far less used ability to communicate via pictures and video. How will recent increases and future significant increases in data transfer speeds, such as CDWMA and HSDPA, again change the way we use our phones?

Companies like radar.net, whose service for cameraphones provides instant sharing of photos with invited friends on PC or WAP, are betting that pictures, worth a thousand words, will be the next revolution. And so is Nokia; who recently announced a line of new phones equipped with single click posting to a flickr account. I believe radar and Nokia are correct. I would also speculate that an using an MVNO for marketing to target potential heavy users, as Helio did with MySpace, would be a good strategy.

Industry experts once said it was impractical to cover a city in Wi-Fi; but Wi-Fi continues to covers more and more of the earth and every few weeks I see a new Skype enabled phone. How will these technologies converge? Will they have too? Will cellular die out? The future will be interesting.