Jeff Kagan: The Future of Wireless, Telecom, and TV

Jeff Kagan  |

At a speech last week the audience learned that only one-third of American homes are still using landlines, more than 170 billion text messages are send every single day, and 45% of all US adults own a smartphone. With stats like that you can quickly see how companies like AT&T (T) , Verizon (VZ) , CenturyLink (CTL) , Sprint (S) , and T-Mobile (TMUS) have unique challenges and opportunities ahead of them.

The president of AT&T Georgia, Beth Shiroishi, spoke at the First Monday Breakfast at the Cobb County Galleria. This breakfast meeting is a regular event at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce in an Atlanta suburb.

AT&T’s Shiroishi talked about the innovation and changes that have been occurring in the telephone and wireless marketplace. This was an eye-opening presentation in plain English, meant for an audience who was not in the telephone, wireless, IPTV, or Cable Television business.

This was a great presentation because it shines a bright light on changes in the industry segments across the entire USA. It talks about innovation and change. It talks about new technology, new products, new services, and new competition. It talks about what it takes to win going forward.

This speech may have been given in Georgia, but it applies to the entire United States. Looking backwards, telecom meant telephone. Today it means wireless, wire-line, television-like cable TV and IPTV, and the internet as well. However, tomorrow it means communications will be the center of our universe and give us remote control for our lives.

Shiroishi said AT&T’s goal is to integrate different aspects of customer’s lives using a variety of new technologies.

Remember, the vision of tomorrow is a connected world. Right now only two companies, AT&T and Verizon are the largest and most innovative communications companies in the United States. However both have a geographic footprint for their wire line services. Their wireless services however are nationwide.

These companies are in the business of connecting people and their things to companies and networks through technology in industry after industry.

She discussed how AT&T Mobility has a commitment to bring ultra-fast and wireless features to every aspect of our lives. How it will be highly secure to threats and invisible to users.

She also said something that I have been saying for years. The wireless phone is becoming the remote control for our lives. And I say she is absolutely right.

I have said countless times, today we don’t leave our homes without three things: our keys, our wallet, and our smartphone. But tomorrow, all we’ll have to remember is our smartphone. It will open our doors and start our cars. It will be our electronic wallet and have our digitized drivers license, insurance ID cars, credit cards, and everything else we carry in that leather pocket pouch.

Shiroishi said on Monday consumers are adopting new technologies at a faster rate than ever. She said how Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) Android technologies have been adopted ten times faster than computer adoption. She also talked about a ‘new economy’ that is developing thanks to this quick adoption by consumers, and how this economy will continue to transform America.

There were very few mobile apps in 2007. Basically it was Blackberry (BBRY) and that’s about it. However, today there are more than one million apps and more than 25 billion app downloads and growing.

She says the app economy was worth $53 billion in 2012 and expected to reach $143 billion by 2016. And these new technologies are replacing traditional telephone service.

She said only 25 percent of homes in Georgia use traditional landlines. The national average is 33 percent. This is a big challenge and opportunity for AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and many smaller phone companies from coast to coast. I see the larger cities adopting this technology faster, but it is happening everywhere. Everyone wants it.

That’s why wireless and telephone companies must work hard to ensure the networks and infrastructure is ready for this unrelenting surge. Wireless only carriers have an ongoing job staying ahead of this demand, but larger wireless and wire line carriers have a much larger job.

Shiroishi wrapped up by saying companies like AT&T and AT&T Mobility are always evaluating customer needs and demands, both today and tomorrow so they can be there.

I think that’s a great presentation for the non-telephone and non-wireless world so they can increase their understanding of the challenges and opportunities going forward. The world we all grew up with is changing and won’t look the same a few years from now.

Companies like AT&T and Verizon are heavy hitters in both the wireless and wire-line world.

Companies like CenturyLink and Windstream are more limited to the wire line side of the business.

Companies like Sprint and T-Mobile are on the wireless side.

Cable TV companies like Comcast (CMCSA) , Time Warner Cable (TWC) , and Cox are offering some telecom services are part of the mix as well.

So the way we do everything in our lives is in the process of changing and reinventing itself. We no longer have to rush home to make a call or watch a TV program. Today, we can place or receive a call from anywhere with our wireless phones. We can also watch TV at home or on our tablet or smartphone from wherever we are.

Place or time means less as we enter this anytime and anyplace reality. All we need is a connection to the Internet, either wireless, wire line or through technologies like Wi-Fi.

The cloud is also a growing part of our technology future. We will store our information on a cloud server rather than on our devices. That way we can get access to our info wherever we are, as long as we have connection to the Internet. Once we solve the always-on need and security threats.

There are plenty of advantages and new risks in that world, so we must tread carefully going forward. However the future is a very bright, but very different place.

So which companies will be the leaders going forward? Will it be today’s leaders or will new companies jump in and change things? Most likely it will be a mix. Stay tuned.


DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


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