Technology that has changed the way we live, work and play
2021 has been a year of enormous challenges, but there have also been incredible advancements in the world of wireless technology that have changed the way we live, work and play – for the better.
I have been in the wireless industry for over 15 years, and as technology evolves there is always something to be excited about. Today, over 300 million people have access to a 5G wireless network, so it’s hard to believe this innovation became available just three years ago. 5G has been described as a transformative technology, but most transformations happen on a regular basis – they become ‘trends’ that happen over time. To that end, here are three trends I predict for 2022 that can have a lasting impact on families and businesses across the country.
A real change for rural America
A recent study by BroadbandNow indicates that more than 40 million people in the United States do not have reliable high-speed internet access, many of them in rural areas. One of the main factors behind the lack of coverage in these areas is the sheer economy – sometimes it can be twice as expensive to build the necessary broadband infrastructure in rural areas, and there are far fewer people. to help pay for the service – which makes it prohibitively expensive. for suppliers and costly for customers.
But there are encouraging signs that this will change. The recent infrastructure bill allocated more than $ 65 billion for broadband and offers an unprecedented opportunity for the expansion of broadband connectivity in underserved areas, as well as increased accessibility for consumers. And the government leaders I’ve spoken to are eager to put that money to work for their constituents.
In addition, a revolutionary new wireless technology – 5G fixed wireless – can provide very high-speed home and business connectivity, delivering reliable broadband access to rural areas quickly and affordably. At UScellular, we have achieved record speeds in the trials of our fixed wireless solution, and we look forward to rolling out the service to more customers in 2022. Our investments in fixed wireless have the double benefit also allow the improvement of 5G mobile broadband. for consumers, enabling them to connect at home and on the go.
I predict 2022 will be the year we pave the way for meaningful progress in connecting rural America and connecting everyone to the digital economy.
The Internet of Things is going mainstream
You may have heard this one before. The Internet of Things – or IoT – has been touted for years, and while there has been significant progress towards the ultimate promise of a connected world, the hype has so far exceeded results. However, the business leaders I have met have shared real-world examples that demonstrate that IoT technology is starting to realize its potential, mainly due to the ubiquity of 5G networks that provide the consistent and fast connection that IoT devices have. need.
Hospitals reduce costs and improve patient care by tracking the location of thousands of assets, such as beds, medical equipment, and specialized instruments, as well as monitoring heat-sensitive drugs. Precision farming allows farmers to automate their irrigation systems and monitor soil quality, minimizing money and resources spent by bringing water and fertilizers only when and where they are. required. For consumers, the expectation that everything can be traceable and connected is becoming a reality with security cameras, smartwatches, and tracking of low-cost items like AirTags.
According to CTIA, there are over 190 million IoT devices in the United States, which is over 40% of all estimated wireless devices. I predict 2022 will be the year when the IoT really begins to emerge from the hype and deliver on the promise of a world where everything can be connected.
Connect to be together
Perhaps the most impactful change I see for 2022 is to reverse the trend of technology that divides us online and instead helps us connect in real life. And the indications are there.
Connectivity has always been used to bring people together – phone calls, texts, video calls, and even social media initially brought us together, helping us connect with old friends and share important moments in life. But much of social discourse online these days is divisive, poisonous, and sometimes even deadly. When people can hide behind digital disguises and talk to anonymous, faceless recipients, every conversation online can quickly escalate into an “us versus them” divide.
It is encouraging that at UScellular we are seeing a steady increase in personal communication. One-on-one texting is on the rise and, after declining year over year, phone calls per user increased on our network in 2021, a sign that people are connecting directly to each other , and not between them via social networks.
I have also personally observed a shift towards mastering the dangerous echo chambers of social media, and often teens – like my daughters – are leading the way. They’re getting smarter about the implications of a permanently connected life. They know the value of their personal data well and put less emphasis on ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and more emphasis on sharing experiences with people they love… their friends.
While there is still a lot of work to be done to make the online world safe and enjoyable for everyone, I predict that 2022 will be the year when the pendulum begins to move away from the technology that divides us, and towards connections that bring us together. So this holiday season, let’s use the connections to be together. First, call your mother. Then put the phone away and spend time with your family.
Laurent “LT” Therivel is the Chairman and CEO of UScellular.