LTE compliant products: Too early or just in time?
Those of you who lived the 2.5G-3G-HSDPA transition through work in either the technical or commercial sides should be experiencing strong Déjà vu spells already. If not, beware: you may be a victim of ‘the happiness of ignorance’ without even realizing it.
Because this is exactly what you have if you believe that rolling out 4G networks means everything will fall into place and work in harmony: Carriers, hardware, software, uninterrupted live call transfer from 3G to LTE and vice versa, technical and commercial roadmaps, products, services and so on.
For the rest of us who keep our feet on the ground and made a grey hair or two by contributing in such rollouts, it is BAU and turning a deaf ear to spectacular press releases and impressive news that pop up here and there every morning trying to sneak into one of our inbox trays.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not the person who sees the bottle half empty here; on the contrary, I really look forward to the day when all this plays well. But it isn’t going to be tomorrow or the day after, right? Well, OK maybe in some areas like Dubai and a few European countries and US states LTE works perfectly already but there is a long way to go until it becomes a standard that delivers a seamless broadband experience elsewhere.
And yet, we see it once again as we did back in 2005. Things like ‘always on’ cars remaining connected to the network to provide passengers with broadband services and a great multimedia streaming experience. Or video calls of unsurpassed quality with conferencing capabilities. And then it really takes off with coffee makers synchronizing with toasters, smart flea collars signaling pet doors to open automatically and desperate freezers mailing house owners for de-icing.
Seriously, I remain skeptical about all this. 3G taught us a few things like not to overestimate the network. To keep in mind how well the device delivers content and service and for how long before it blows up from overheating or shuts down from battery exhaustion. Then it comes down to the actual offering and how well the technical side works with the commercial side. Usually there is a raging battle between the two and commercial people envisage a cruise ship while the only thing that is technically feasible is a small dinghy that barely floats – and with a couple of buckets on board just in case.
I strongly believe this is exactly the period we are going through with LTE. Marketing people are doing their work, conceptualizing and teaming with technology people to bring new products and services to the market. Some companies understandably want to show ‘cutting edge’ and launch a couple of products to transmit the right signals to the right audiences: the Stock Market, the early adopters, keeping the Board happy and grabbing the internal ‘Honore’ while maintaining the ‘we are ready when you are’ image outside for competitors and the brand shining for admirers.
As time goes by and LTE networks prove themselves to the masses the Market will come out with a million things to sell for both Business and Retail clients; some of them will catch on and most will not, either because of hardware and network limitations or because of reasons to do with pricing or just sheer stupidity.
So it probably is early days. Although service and product brainstorming is part of my life, I am not sure if I‘d like to buy a freezer who mails me about de icing. I still remain cautious and hesitant in embracing too much technology in my everyday living. It was that day back in my student years when I read a phrase written with spray paint right on the wall, next to an electronics store with a big arrow pointing to the storefront quoting: “Their civilization ends quickly with a power cut”. It makes you think doesn’t it?