Deployment of true 4G wireless networks to fall short, according to Deloitte’s Telco Predictions 2011 report


27 January 2011: Deployment of true 4G wireless networks will fall short of expectations in 2011, according to professional services firm Deloitte’s Telecommunications Predictions 2011 report.

Damien Tampling, Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) leader in Australia, said that while 130 carriers around the world are currently running 4G trials, it is expected fewer than 30 in six countries will offer true 4G commercial service in 2011.

“For many consumers, the increasing availability of public Wi-Fi networks will provide a faster and more affordable alternative to cellular broadband for mobile data,” Mr Tampling said.

“A growing number of retail stores are offering shoppers free Wi-Fi access in order to improve the customer experience and enable sales staff to focus on sales and service rather than routine inquiries.”

Getting to 4G cheaply: will many carriers opt for 3.5G instead?
In 2011, the deployment of next generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks will fall short of industry expectations due to the continuing viability of the latest third generation (3G) wireless technologies. Fewer than 30 LTE carriers in six countries are likely to offer commercial service by the end of 2011. The adoption of 4G might be slower than expected because some mobile providers have not fully utilized their existing 3G spectrum. Also, LTE, as it exists today, does not offer the quantum leap in speeds and features over 3G as experienced in previous generational upgrades.

Wi-Fi complements cellular broadband for “data on the move”
In 2011, the volume of data uploaded or downloaded from portable devices via public Wi-Fi networks will grow at a much faster rate (25 – 50 percent) than the volume carried over cellular broadband networks. Wi-Fi’s increasing share of the mobile device data load will likely have a ripple effect by slowing the growth rate of cellular broadband traffic, potentially helping improve margins for mobile providers’ data services. Cellular broadband will increasingly revolve around specific applications for users that can justify the cost premium by taking full advantage of the technology’s wide-area coverage, mobility, and integrated security.

What is “in store” for Wi-Fi: online comparison shopping on aisle 3
In 2011, 25 percent of North American big box and anchor tenant retailers are likely to begin offering free in-store Wi-Fi access to shoppers. In the past, retailers have resisted offering Wi-Fi access, fearing it would allow consumers to comparison shop using their smartphones or tablets. However, this fear may have been misguided. When shoppers do in-store online comparison shopping, preliminary and anecdotal evidence suggests they are more likely to purchase at that store, especially when an online search reveals that competitors’ prices are similar. In-store Wi-Fi can become a way to enhance the customer’s in-store experience and allow store employees to spend more time on service and sales, instead of responding to routine inquiries.

Video calling: the base goes mainstream, but usage remains niche
In 2011, video calling will be cheaper, better, and more widely available than ever; yet a boom in demand is unlikely. While video calling continues to grow, the vast majority of business and consumer calls will remain purely voice-based; most callers do not yet perceive a need for video. Despite many recent innovations, video calls still cannot compete with the richness and depth of face-to-face meetings.

For a copy of Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2011 report, go to

Deloitte's Predictions 2011 is also available in an iPad App format. You can download the TMT iPad App in the Apple Store for iPad (no cost).

The 2011 series of Predictions has drawn on internal and external inputs from conversations with member firm clients, contributions from Deloitte member firms’ 7,000 partners and managers specialising in TMT, and discussions with industry analysts as well as interviews with leading executives from around the world.

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