It's 2017. Has The Wireless Industry Piqued?
By Jeff Pon, Senior Vice President-Product, Sonim Technologies
With the constant stream of new smartphones, wearables and mobile apps—you would never guess that in 2015, a Forbes article called the U.S. wireless industry an “increasingly saturated market.” That doesn’t mean innovation and disruption are dead, but it does mean they are beginning to look different. One of the largest disruptions looming on the horizon is the development of FirstNet, a government-sponsored project designed to build, operate and maintain the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.
Companies like Sonim Technologies, which is heavily focused on ultra-rugged devices used by first responders, military and industrial workers will be impacted by the development of this greenfield public safety network. In addition, its impact will ripple into other industries and commercial applications as the new network stabilizes, potentially enticing more private and public enterprises to develop their own broadband networks using methodologies developed with FirstNet. Mobile operators such as Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all see the potential of FirstNet.
Other disruptions will continue to come from newer, faster, and more complex mobile applications as customers demand stronger hardware with larger bandwidth and the ability to manage multiple activities simultaneously. The next frontier may be monetizing the Internet of Things (IoT). The problem with IoT is the newness of the industry: it lacks standardization and the formula to drive revenue is still unknown. Plus, bandwidth will be a critical component of IoT, without which, the combination of enterprise, consumers and IoT simply won’t work.
The wireless industry continues to evolve and grow to meet the changing needs of enterprise and consumers
In addition to the need for increased bandwidth, security has become a critical part of every enterprise’s value chain. But there is no silver bullet—no ‘one single answer.’ To establish a reliable, consistent network for security will require collaboration between all the players in the wireless world—mobile operators, WiFi providers, hardware and software companies, and even the end users. For example, Sonim as a hardware provider can help provide encryption for data at rest and data in motion, but users also need to accept the necessity of checks and protocols to ensure data anomalies are flagged and evaluated. The best security will be achieved by a collective effort, as there’s no single entity across the value chain that can guarantee the full security of the chain. It must be incumbent upon every single aspect of the solution to provide a level of security in and of itself—and to interact with each entity to ensure cross chain strength and stability.
New technological trends in wireless include improvements to hardware. Consumers are growing weary of paying for expensive devices and continuing to have to replace them due to breakage, dust, water, battery, audio or other issues. As a provider of the most durable handsets in the world for the last ten years, Sonim has already addressed these issues—but the makers of mainstream smartphone hardware have not and the emerging sentiments from consumers will push them to improve the ruggedness of their phones, creating commoditization and convergence of durability standards.
To serve your customers best—both internal and external— it’s extremely important to have a deep understanding of how their devices are used, especially handheld mobile devices like smartphones. Too often we focus solely on the upfront costs of hardware without holistically considering the true total cost of ownership (TCO) of the solution. TCO includes initial costs, but also replacement costs, cost in terms of time, productivity, customer response, customer satisfaction and reputation. Those costs are hidden, even intangible. However, they are a critical component of the decision-making process for achieving high quality service. The subsidization of handsets is going to go away, prices are going to normalize and to differentiate, it’s going to be all about how well you serve your customers’ needs. To encourage TCO thinking within the enterprise may require a bit of bravery.
I have to disagree with the Forbes article that states the wireless industry is saturated. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The wireless industry continues to evolve and grow to meet the changing needs of enterprise and consumers. Bandwidth, security and mobile technology standards will be driven by changes in usage of and demand for faster, more powerful mobile solutions.