Here is an interesting guest blog by Sayak Basu, senior consultant from Capgemini’s TME strategy lab. I hope you will enjoy it. - Andy A recent blog posting from a Gartner analyst on telecom technologies caught my attention. The analyst poses the question on whether the time has come to speculate the arrival of 5G networks (yes, you read that right, 5G!). This set me thinking. Having just read a Capgemini study on advent of 4G networks, I was left wondering at the pace of evolution of telecom networks, and how rapidly our mobile usage behaviour is changing. It has been very interesting to observe the rapid developments in mobile applications, particularly in the last five years. Where there were minimal 3G applications and devices a few years back when 3G was launched here in Europe, today, we are faced with a surfeit of choices. We have taken a big fancy to large-screen smartphones such as the Apple iPhone, and laptops have now morphed into truly mobile gadgets in the form of netbooks. Along with these gadgets, we now demand continuous 3G connectivity. No wonder, intensive use of high-bandwidth applications on such gadgets has resulted in a ten-fold increase in data traffic in the last few years. With netbooks all set to get a dedicated browser-based Google operating system, and smartphones set to penetrate further, this data usage can only grow higher. It is this burgeoning data usage that is now encouraging operators to consider deployment of 4G networks. While the debate on LTE vs WiMAX as the 4G technology of choice continues in the telecom world, LTE definitely appears to have pulled ahead of its competitor. For mobile operators, the key here is to bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to these network upgrades. The business case for 4G will need to be scrutinized closely by operators on an individual basis before embarking on such an ambitious journey. Capex-heavy 4G investments require operators to carefully tie their upgrade and rollout timings with market realities. As such, a phased approach in deployment of 4G technologies will likely help in putting operators on a steady transition path to an all-IP environment. An added advantage for large mobile operators that have operations spanning GSM and CDMA platforms currently is the opportunity to harmonize their technology platforms on 4G thereby gaining significant scale advantage. 4G technology is indeed round the corner, with some Japanese and Nordic operators in a ready-to-deploy state. And by the time they arrive, I reckon, 5G will be much less an esoteric term. While the timelines for these next-generation networks-on-steroids appear hazy, one thing is certain. The consumer experience is only going to get better, and ubiquitous high-speed bandwidth availability will ensure the rise of a whole new class of innovative applications and services. But for now, we can leave talk of 5G networks to the marketers. - Sayak Basu - senior consultant from Capgemini’s Telecom Media & Entertainment (TME) strategy lab.