In a report released by the White House last month, the United States government announced it considers broadband to be a ‘core utility’ on a par with electricity, sewage and water. The report announced plans to improve and modernise broadband access for Americans over the next two years.
“Access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity.” Barack Obama
The UK has its own plan to ensure everyone in the UK has at least basic broadband access by 2016, with a target of 90% of households having access to super-fast broadband by the same date.
The UK has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world, higher than the United States, and, along with Germany, the highest in Europe.
What will this mean for the complex device sector?
Firstly, the increase in available broadband is not confined to households Access to public Wi-Fi is on the rise throughout the UK. The City of London announced free Wi-Fi through The Cloud for the whole of the Square Mile and its 400,000 workers all the way back in 2012, and this is spreading to other cities.
Data usage charges can be a hot topic among device users, and as more and more users get used to connecting to public Wi-Fi, demand for it will grow as they begin to see it as a necessity they don’t want to pay for, rather than a luxury.
VoIP is already on the rise. A few years ago, mobile users wishing to make calls through their Wi-Fi needed to install outside apps, but providers now offer calls via Wi-Fi. The technology can sometimes be patchy, but along with the increased prevalence of broadband, VoIP is likely the way of the future.
Around 16% of households don’t have a landline, and 51% of 18-24 year olds have said that their mobile phone has replaced their landline so this is a number that is only going to get bigger.
For a while, it seemed that the ‘phone’ function of a smartphone was being left behind in the rise of selfies, games, and apps for just about every purpose, but users will start needing more support connecting to VoIP and understanding their call options as they move away from landline and network calls.
The line between smartphones and tablets is already blurry and this is likely to increase as manufacturers keep up with the demand for more and more functionality in devices. The average UK home already owns an average of 18 smart devices and this is expected to increase to as much as 500 per household by 2022.
As households incorporate more and more smart devices into their daily lives, and grow used to super-fast broadband as something they can’t live without, users are going to need increasingly in-depth support understanding the individual functions of their devices and how they can fit together.
The complex device sector is naturally fast-moving by its nature, but it looks like the next few years are going to be particularly interesting. Businesses are going to have to change rapidly merely to keep up.
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