In 2019, mobile technologies and services contributed $4.1 trillion in additional economic value (about 4.7 percent of global GDP), equivalent to about $490 billion in tax revenue. As more and more people around the world use mobile services, those numbers are likely to only grow, especially in fast-growing countries like China and India. Additionally, with the introduction of wireless 5G technology, more devices will be able to connect to the internet, helping to expand the Internet of Things (IoT) market. Therefore, standardization in the mobile space will be more important than ever.
Why is standardization so important?
Standardization creates a set of blueprints for the mobile industry and connected technologies such as IoT devices, encouraging competition by leveling the playing field and helping the entire market innovate to meet changing consumer needs.
It is also important to consider how wireless technology can be used as a malicious attack vector. As the nation’s infrastructure becomes increasingly dependent on mobile technology, safety standards become a national security issue. Even an IoT-connected washing machine could be maliciously used in a well-planned attack to weaken the national power grid.
Therefore, mobile standardization needs to strike a balance between innovation and security: open enough to encourage the development of new technologies and services, but not open enough to introduce unnecessary security concerns.
Another consideration is the environment. The mobile industry is also a major contributor to global carbon emissions, releasing more carbon dioxide each year than the global aviation industry. Over the next year or two, mobile standards will need to focus on how to decarbonize the mobile industry.
These considerations will only become more important as technology becomes more interconnected. Mobile devices and services have the potential to continue to revolutionize our world, especially after the COVID-19 lockdown changed the way we work. But the growing importance, interconnectedness, and ubiquity of mobile use brings even greater complexity and risk. Finding the right standard for mobile technology will therefore play a crucial role in the years to come, guiding not only the industry but society as a whole.
With this in mind, let’s dive deeper into the top three considerations for mobile standardization over the next three to five years: innovation, security and addressing climate change.
One of the main benefits of standardization in the mobile industry is that it allows for greater competition among manufacturers. When common standards exist, manufacturers don’t have to create proprietary technology that might not be compatible with other devices. Instead, they can focus on differentiating their products through design, functionality, and pricing.
In addition, standardization allows developers to create new applications and services that can be used on multiple devices and networks. This will lead to a more vibrant and diverse mobile ecosystem, bringing more innovations, better products and more choices to consumers.
What’s more, operators can more easily expand their networks and reach new customers by using standardized equipment and technology, especially in developing countries. This helps bridge the digital divide, bringing mobile services to people who otherwise might not have access.
As mobile technology penetrates deeper into these developing regions, we will see a wave of innovation, especially from India and Africa. Using standardized created building blocks, new services will develop exponentially to solve regional challenges. These innovations will have an impact on the rest of the world, and according to global standards, can be implemented with minimal friction.
However, it is important that the standards are not so rigid that they slow down the pace of innovation. When manufacturers are required to conform to common standards, they may be less willing to take risks and try new ideas, leading to a lack of choice for consumers.
Over the next few years, standardization in the mobile industry will increasingly be driven by security concerns. Mobile devices and networks are becoming increasingly interconnected and rely on sensitive personal and business information, making them an essential part of national infrastructure.
Organizations such as 3GPP and GSMA play a key role in this process, working to establish common security standards for mobile devices and networks. They provide guidance on how to protect mobile devices and networks from attacks such as malware, hacking, and data breaches. In addition, 3GPP’s security standards provide guidance on how to protect user privacy, including how to manage personal information and how to control access to sensitive data.
One area of particular concern for mobile security is telemedicine. The pandemic and resulting lockdowns have created an unprecedented healthcare crisis. The surge in patients requiring medical attention has led to increased transmission of the virus in hospitals and GP surgeries. Telemedicine is being adopted en masse to provide health care without physical contact.
The result is a rapidly growing nascent telemedicine market. However, confidentiality and security of patient information acts as a restraining factor for the growth of telemedicine services, motivating new solutions and services to meet the demand.
By establishing standards for mobile device security, developers can more easily design and implement solutions that protect mobile devices from hacking and data breaches. This could include things like encryption, authentication and access controls, which help protect devices from unauthorized access and secure new telehealth services.
However, it is important to note that standardization alone is not enough to ensure the security of mobile devices. It needs to be combined with other efforts like user education and regular security audits to keep mobile devices and networks safe from threats. It is also important that security standards be as easy to use as possible to encourage rather than stifle innovation.
fight climate change
Unfortunately, the mobile industry currently accounts for around 3.5% of total global CO2 emissions. That’s double the emissions from the aviation industry. As the industry continues to grow, so will carbon emissions unless we make some drastic changes.
Standardization of the mobile operator market can play an important role in helping decarbonize the communications industry. By establishing common technical standards for the deployment and operation of mobile networks, standardization can facilitate the development and deployment of more energy-efficient technologies and practices. These may include energy-efficient base stations, energy-saving modes for devices, and efficient use of spectrum.
Standardization can also facilitate the development of new technologies and services that help reduce carbon emissions. For example, 5G enables technologies such as the Internet of Things and machine-to-machine communication, which can help optimize energy and usage, and improve resource efficiency in various industries such as agriculture, transportation, and healthcare.
In addition, as standardization helps develop new services for teleworking and telemedicine, less travel is needed, helping to reduce carbon emissions in other areas of daily life.
In the next few years, we will see more and more new standards in the mobile industry that are specifically aimed at reducing carbon emissions. From designs directly designed to help mobile operators find more energy-efficient ways of operating, to designs that impact other areas of society.
Standardization is important to the mobile industry and businesses in general, and it plays a vital role in ensuring that products produced for one market can also be sold in another, with no or minimal modifications to the production process. Standardization has not only helped the mobile industry grow, but has changed the world, touching everything from business to healthcare. Standardization is necessarily about the future of the industry, but the right standards must encourage rather than restrict innovation and collaboration.