August 03, 2009
4G Technologies to Fuel Merging of Mobile Devices: WiMAX Provider
By Michael Dinan
Fourth-generation wireless technologies will yield a merging among mobile devices, the CEO and president of a Rhode Island-based fixed WiMAX provider told TMCnet.
According to Jeff Thompson (News
) of Towerstream
– a company that delivers high-speed Internet access to businesses in nine U.S. markets, including the greater Providence area where the company is based – with the iPhone (News
) and iPod touch and similar devices, the industry already is seeing some merging with the introduction of applications “for everything from gaming to GPS.”
“Why have several devices – an iPod, smartphone, GSP system, portable gaming system, camera, video camera, Kindle, and so on – when you can consolidate everything into one?” Thompson told TMC President Rich Tehrani (News
) in an interview, printed in full below.
“Another good example is a special iPhone application for golf that a lot of my friends use and love,” Thompson told Tehrani. “It costs $30, rather than $300 to purchase a device that does the same thing – and only serves that one purpose. One-application items like this will more and more be dissolved into these smartphones that can be pretty much everything to everyone. And as network speeds increase and device technologies and battery life advance further, I think this consolidation will only increase.”
During the interview, Thompson also hinted at emerging opportunities as broadband stimulus funds become available.
Their full exchange follows.
Rich Tehrani: Much of the communications and tech worlds – including companies focused on broadband and healthcare technology, for example – are now availing themselves of money available through government stimulus. How will stimulus packages, including the United States’, affect your company, if at all?
Jeff Thompson (pictured left): Towerstream is evaluating the broadband stimulus and will be proceeding with the application process in the coming weeks. For competitive reasons, I must refrain from getting into the details of our plans but I will say that we see a tremendous amount of opportunity with this plan and think the rules that have been set out are fair and well done. It’s an exciting time for those of us in the broadband market – and for those Americans living and working in underserved and unserved areas.
RT: Though analysts say the ceiling for long-term evolution subscriptions is very high, carriers increasingly appear to be stalling in their LTE (News - Alert) rollout plans. Realistically, when are you expecting to see these roll-outs?
JT: It’s difficult to speculate on this, but in my experience I’ve seen that most technologies take longer to rollout than analysts predict – and then take even longer to get to critical mass. As we’ve all seen in previous network projects, the big companies in the industry are typically behind in roll-outs. Given this, I expect these LTE roll-outs will also miss expected dates, as we’ve seen with most technologies in the past.
RT: Apple’s business model for peddling applications for its iPhone 3G, the virtual App Store, is seeing copycats across the industry, and analysts expect to see more. But is that what’s best for the mobile space? What other models, if any, can we expect to see?
JT: I always say that competition is a good thing. It breeds innovation and forces companies in a given sector to constantly strive to be better to hold or increase market share. So I think these copycat “app stores” are a good thing for the consumers. But for the businesses themselves,it often gets to a point where they copycats are not relevant and unable to be competitive.
Looking at an example outside the wireless world, we’ve seen other businesses like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders over the years – but most of them have not succeeded. However, their existence pushed the titans in the industry to be better and more innovative, which of course benefitted the consumer.
RT: Many of us who cover or work in the mobile space are a rarity among parents who can relate to their children and kids’ obsessions with smartphones and mobile technologies in general? What does the next generation teach us about wireless usage and services?
JT: The talents of speed texting, of course. But seriously, I think the younger generations show us that communication all the time, everywhere is where the world is headed. They want to be able to play games, text, talk, email, IM, take and send pictures and videos and more on their mobile phones – and they want it now. The older generations are demanding this as well, to some degree, but I see it more in my kids than I do in my peers – even those of us living and breathing wireless technology.
RT: VoIP dominates the way voice is transported on the PSTN, but the end-user rarely connects directly. What can we expect in terms of a parallel for wireless migration to 4G?
JT: 4G is an Internet Protocol service. This means pretty much any application can run over it effectively. Voice is just one of these applications.
RT: Think about feature devices that leverage the wireless Internet – such as GPS systems and netbooks – or may someday do so – think of Flip-brand camcorders. What cool new features and functionality might be coming down the road for these devices?
JT: The possibilities are endless. In the next few years as 4G rolls out, I see devices merging. With the iPhone and iPod touch and similar devices, we are already seeing some of this with the introduction of applications for everything from gaming to GPS. Why have several devices – an iPod, smartphone, GSP system, portable gaming system, camera, video camera, Kindle, and so on – when you can consolidate everything into one?
Another good example is a special iPhone application for golf that a lot of my friends use and love. It costs $30, rather than $300 to purchase a device that does the same thing – and only serves that one purpose. One application items like this will more and more be dissolved into these smartphones that can be pretty much everything to everyone. And as network speeds increase and device technologies and battery life advance further, I think this consolidation will only increase.
RT: Talk to me specifically about what you are showing at the 4G Wireless Evolution conference. What kinds of people or companies should come to your booth?
JT: Towerstream is actually going to be powering the show’s WiFi with our wireless broadband technology. So attendees will get a live demo of our service! Towerstream delivers its service to businesses of all sizes and types, so I encourage anyone that uses Internet at work and likes saving money (wait, isn’t that everyone?) to swing by our pod (4G10) for more information.
Learn more about Towerstream at 4GWE — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO (News - Alert) West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Visit Towerstream at during Jeff Thompson’s session at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 1. Don’t wait. Register now.
Follow ITEXPO on Twitter: twitter.com/itexpo
Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan