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4G and Beyond: Mobile Data has Erased the Digital Divide 

  • December 2015
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 14 pages

Executive Summary

Digital divide! The phrase conjures up a vision of some crevasse across which the poor and downtrodden peer longingly at some unachievable wonderland defined by Internet access Digital divide has become a rallying cry to justify various governmental programs; ostensibly designed to address this problem of Internet access

But, what if the problem is non-existent or, at the very least, less dire than imagined? Stratecast believes that the concerns about Internet access are very much overblown, and that the United States, in particular, is well on the way to virtually % Internet access The reason this is almost certainly true is that broadband access is no longer the exclusive domain of the desktop computer With smartphones representing an increasingly popular cellular option, and with smartphones available with prepaid access plans, in virtually any grocery store, practically anyone who wants a way to access the Internet can do so

4G technology has largely been responsible for enabling this amazing increase in Internet access While 3G technology enabled smartphones, only succeeding technologies like 4G, 4G+, and soon 5G, define mobility in terms of data

And with carriers increasingly giving away voice connectivity with smartphone subscription packages, the market has recognized that most people now think in terms of data functionality rather than voice connectivity

One might think that defining broadband access in terms of a smartphone in some way settles for a less capable Internet connection Yet, this is not the case: in many respects a mobile device is far more capable than any fixed data access device Why? The reason is applications Data intensive applications, informed by smartphone GPS information, confer on a mobile device the ability to deliver a position-enabled experience that a desktop machine cannot

For many people, the smartphone has become the center for all communications connectivity; providing access to an Internet browser, email, text messaging, conventional telephone, and telepresence Most importantly, applications which tie together all of these communication modalities now transcend the notion of telecommunication services as simple connectivity

Nevertheless, while 4G provides digital access, and applications define a new blended communication-content environment, there are still barriers to general adoption Chief among these is a regulatory structure that imagines the Internet as a fiber-defined domain

Table Of Contents

4G and Beyond: Mobile Data has Erased the Digital Divide 
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 4
Introduction 5
The State of Mobile Data: 4G Deployments 6
Beyond 4G 9
Internet Access: What do Consumers Want? 10
Implications for Public Policy 11
The Last Word 13

List of Exhibits

Exhibit 1: 4G Statistics 6
Exhibit 2: LTE vs Non-LTE Connections (US 2014-2020) 7
Exhibit 3: Comparative Growth: Wireless vs Fiber as a Percentage of the Population (North
America 2007-2014) 8
Exhibit 4: Preference for Communication Services (North America, 2014) 8
Exhibit 5: The Evolution to 5G 9
Exhibit 6: Video Subscriptions (US 2007-2015) 10
Exhibit 7: United States Broadband Subscriber Growth (2011 projection versus 2015 Actual) 12

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