So how will the mobile industry meet this challenge and keep satisfy out appetite for data?
The industry is clearly optimistic. It already confidently speaks of 5G – a further generation of technology that will roll out as current ideas have run their course. What exactly they mean by 5G is poorly defined, but a host of tricks are being discussed that it’s hoped will keep past trends going well into the next decade.
Which is just as well, as the lure of being immersed in a seamless flow of data will only become more compelling, says Rich Howard, formerly head of wireless research at Bell Labs and now with Winlab at Rutgers University.
“Mature technology is invisible – and that’s the direction we’re heading,” he says.
Howard looks forward to a day when phones begin to make intelligent decisions by themselves.
“What you want is a digital assistant that, while you’re having a call with somebody, will be busy looking at options for actions relevant to that call and have them available,” he says. So, if you are talking about a train journey, the phone could begin to check your calendar, ticket prices and connections. By the time you hang up, it would be able to present you with a list of available options. “Everytime you start to say something, you turn around and it’s already done, the way you want it done.”
It is a vision that is a world away from Cooper’s first call forty years ago and one that is only going to add the coming data crunch.
How the industry plans to keep up and deliver this future will be explored in the next article in this series.