"It's a tough time to be an operator", Google's Schmidt

It's hard to be a Mobile wireless operator today, according to Eric Schmidt, Google chairman; with regulation and the cost of 4G network upgrades threatening to cause serious problems for telcos the world over.

"It is very difficult to be a telecom operator right now," said Schmidt in his keynote to a packed Mobile World Congress crowd last night. "You've got the reality that you have to upgrade your equipment to 4G and you have customers who are busy using enormous amounts of the bandwidth that is so scarce for you, and governments, in addition to regulating you to death, are charging huge fees for new bandwidth."

He said industry and regulators needed to work more closely together. "We're very aware of the problems carriers face," he added.

Unveiling the new Chrome browser for Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Schmidt said Android users could now enjoy instantaneous browsing experience across their home desktop and their phone.

The slick looking new browser carries a number of nifty new features designed to improve usability, down to the synchronisation with the chrome browser desktop experience to the point that after browsing on your PC at home, you can open Chrome on your phone to find the same windows open, and even your previous browsing history available to your handset from the cloud.

“We know we really got the UI right this time,” he said.

In a keynote that largely dealt with issues surrounding connectivity, and technology’s effect on human society, Schmidt touched on the Arab spring, how connectivity will redefine our relationships with the world, and how technology will, in the not too distant future, enabling you to experience events remotely by sending a little robot avatar that can audio-visual and tactile sensory feedback, allowing you to ‘experience’ the event as if you were there.

The cloud will be transformative for small business, he said, this was no longer in doubt. Access to high powered applications in the cloud for everything from accounting to design would enable businesses to grow faster and be more successful.

Shmidt painted a picture of a future where humanity is elevated by connectivity. “The web is pretty amazing with just two billion people online, right?” he said. “Think how amazing it would be if we could get the other five billion people connected too.”

The first steps for some areas don’t even need to include a central network hub, he said, it’s really all about creating mesh networks where people, remote communities can connect to each other. Even nomadic peoples will invest in technology, he added, we’ve seen this with satellite TV, so we know it will be true with smartphones.

Perhaps pandering to his audience somewhat, he said developers were, “the engineers of human freedom”.

“We’re beginning to see science fiction becoming a reality,” he said. “Technology disappears as it becomes part of everyday life and people start to trust it more. Before long, the web will become like electricity.”

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