Walking around with a satellite dish on your head just so you can receive Sky TV while on the move is probably not an idea that will catch on any time soon, if ever.
But not too long ago, it seemed weird to see and hear people talking into a small handheld device called a mobile phone while out and about, so maybe the “satellite dish perched on head look” is not a totally ridiculous idea.
And judging by some of the hats worn on Ladies’ Day at the famous annual Ascot horse racing event, at least some people are receiving signals from alien civilisations. Lady Gaga certainly is anyway.
Satellite phones do exist, of course, and satellites themselves are used to distribute data around the network.
But the network is evolving, and more people are getting accustomed to the jargon of network technology. They might not know the technical difference between 4G and 5G, but will know what they refer to and understand that one is better than the other. They might also understand why talking about 3G might be slightly embarrassing.
Even beyond that, they might know what LTE is.
LTE stands for long-term evolution, a catch-all phrase for a new type of mobile communications network which, as the name suggests, is being constructed in a way that enables ongoing upgrades going forward.
LTE is said to be part of the 4G group of technologies and is probably the most boring and most redundant name anyone could have come up with, since no one would expect anything other than long-term evolution in general – in life or in technology.
Anyway, networks have indeed evolved and arrived at 5G, but 5G is still in its early days, with full rollout expected in 2020.
Current 4G networks can offer peak download speeds of around 50 megabits per second, with a theoretical maximum of around 150 Mbps. According to Whatsag.com, the 5G network will push data around at speeds of between 1 gigabit per second to 10 Gbps.
That should be fast enough for most applications in widespread use today, particularly video and augmented reality, which are both expected to be huge in the next year or two, and grow even huger beyond that.
But then, there’s always something that pushes the boundaries of available technology. No sooner will high-definition video be able to glide smoothly around the network than even higher-resolution 4K and then 8K will want to get through.
But perhaps 5G will be able to cope.
At the Mobile World Congress this year, currently taking place in Barcelona, Spain, 5G is said to be top of the agenda, after being the most-discussed subject at last year’s event.
According to Christopher Vogt, managing director of online advertising platform BillFront, 5G offers “huge opportunities” to digital media companies and advertisers, especially as mobile video revenues are matching broadband revenues in some countries, such as South Korea, already.MWC: There’s absolutely no need to wear a satellite dish on your head, but that’s just our opinion Click To Tweet
Vogt also thinks financial technology will reshape business as we know it. “A range of industries, including digital advertising, are now being affected by B2B fintech innovations on offer,” he says. “Alternative fintech financing solutions, which are driven by a mobile-first approach, are driving this long needed change.”
MWC claims to be the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, and is organised by the industry association GSMA. Almost all significant mobile tech companies attend or exhibit at the event.
This year, according to Wired, the “big announcements” at MWC included:
- the relaunch of the Nokia 3310 mobile phone;
- the launch of the LG G6 smartphone;
- the showcasing of Samsung’s tablet and virtual reality projects;
- the BlackBerry Mercury smartphone;
- the Sony Xperia XZ Premium;
- Motorola Moto G5 and G5 Plus phones;
- Huawei P10 and P10 Plus.
At least two of those companies – Nokia and the Motorola – are making shameless attempts to tap into nostalgia; while two others – Huawei and Samsung – are trying their luck in markets which are relatively new to them and, in the case of virtual reality, to everyone else.