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New Applications for 4G

On May 4th last week I moderated a panel at the GSA Silicon Series Luncheon. The topic was Next-Generation Networks: The Evolution of Mobile Connectivity.

GSA put together a great lineup of speakers and panelists. The keynote speaker was Arpit Joshipura, VP & Head of Strategy, Communications, Ericsson who gave a great review of mobile communications landscape. Mobile broadband is expected to connect over 50 billion devices by 2020. That translates into 10 connected devices per person. There’s a lot of speculation as to future uses. Arpit noted one application which he thought was bizarre, connected trees. I actually find that to be quite innovative. As a citrus tree owner, I would appreciate knowing when my fruit is ripe and when the birds are starting to attack my best fruit. Great application!

But getting back to the topic, the panel focused on mobile technology, 3G, 4G…Beyond 3G: 4G, WiMax, LTE...What Next?

Panel members included the following distinguished members.
Sanjeev Athalye, Director Product Management, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies
Raouf Halim, Chief Executive Officer, Mindspeed Technologies, Inc.
Lars Johnsson, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Beceem Communications
Sandeep Vij, President and Chief Executive Officer, MIPS Technologies, Inc.
Richard Yeh, Director of Marketing, System LSI, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.

My main take-a-ways
1.The main driver for 4G: more mobile video Of course its all tied to social networking but video goes beyond that. It will become an accepted way of life for business as well.

2.Deployment of 4G will be different from 3G. There is a difference in opinion as to how quickly and when 4G will have widespread implementation but I agree with this point, 4g is different because the demand is already in place. When 3G was upon us we didn’t know why we needed the wider spectrum. Social networking has changed that. All technologies have an incubation period but the gestation period for 4G is going to be much shorter.

3.On the question of semiconductor chip solutions the panel was split. SOC’s are necessary to enable the $15 mobile device. That application is essential for broad usage. But the high end mobile devices such as smart phones are still two chip solutions. There are new smart phone designs introduced every year. The chips need to be decoupled to be able to keep up with changing needs and new functionality.

4.Finally, the panel agreed that there is a lot of opportunity to participate in the growth that will result from the implementation of 4G. The transition with be quicker than the transition to 3G but 3G will be around for awhile so be ready to support a wide variety of market demands.

5.Although baby boomers (I’m one of them) make up a large portion of the market and can afford to buy most any electronics device, it is truly the younger users that drive the market. They want home applications and experiences on their handset. This means streaming video, HD video, gaming, social networking and video conferencing. And leave it to the ‘under-20’ users to find a killer application that they just can’t live without.

Finally, thanks to GSA and GlobalFoundries for sponsoring the event.

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