A Look Ahead in Wireless (and a look back at 2017)

Every November, since 2004, the Wireless Technology Forum convenes a group of expert analysts in the wireless industry for their predictions and perspectives for the future.  On November 16, 2017, the Wireless Technology Forum held its 14th annual Wireless Predictions event with world renowned industry analysts :

Before we jump into the most recent predictions, let's review 2017.

In 2017, our worst security nightmares came true with the Equifax Data Breach and news of 3 billion Yahoo accounts hacked, cord cutting continued with the launch of YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV, and we had a front row seat in an all-out battle between AI voice assistants Alexa and Google Home.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/20/technology/google-home-amazon-echo/index.html

This year, we saw real ROI value from emerging technologies including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) , Internet of Things (IoT), and wearables. AR, VR, and Artificial Intelligence(AI) technologies are now helping to save humanity. Cities are literally becoming smarter both technology wise, and attracting the best and brightest. Mobile video has taken on a life of its own with large companies including CNN, Weather Channel, and MLB; and after over 5 years of speculation, mobile commerce has arrived.

On the local front here in Atlanta, Georgia, the most technologically advanced stadium opened in time for the football season (check out my review of the Mercedes Benz Stadium here), AT&T Drive Studio disclosed a portion of their strategy for security, incorporating voice assistants, and autonomous driving, and Amazon (Alexa team) visited Atlanta for a 1-day Alexa Dev workshop.

The Forum continued to cover the hottest topics in the industry today, here are a few highlights:

Wireless Technology Forum jumped onto the voice assistant bandwagon, launching their own Alexa Skill on Amazon Echo and Google Home App.

By looking back at 2017, there's no secret where we're going in 2018 and beyond.


All four industry analysts at the Forum's November session agreed that all industries are affected by wireless technology. Any industry that has been reluctant to innovate will be disrupted by innovative startups.

  • Innovative smaller players will take market share from big giants.
  • Killer apps will be solutions that encompass AI, machine learning, and wireless to solve age old problems.
  • "Sharing Economy" is the new normal. For example, instead of buying a bicycle, pay for the portion of the bike that you use.
  • Think small screens, and good enough content over big screens and expensive productions. Millennials want to consume personalized, niche content on YouTube over traditional TV content.
  • The smartphone is the "remote control" of our lives. Today we leave the house with our keys, wallet, and smartphone. Tomorrow, just our smartphone. We can now unlock our doors, set the thermostat, and turn off lights with smart home technology.
  • Big Data will become Enormous Data. How much data can we consume and make actionable? Data scientists will become even more in demand.
  • Devices per capita will go from 2 devices/person today, to 60, up to 140 devices per person in 2025.
  • Perry Walter predicted innovation in apparel retail and Jeff Kagan predicted Amazon will innovate in grocery retail with their cashier-less model.

Special thanks to Ashok Kumar for coordinating the panel. Very special thank you to the Wireless Technology Forum Board of Directors for another successful year: Steve Bachman, Karun Rajasekharan, Ashok Kumar, Rattan Bhavinani, Carlos Bosch, Andriy Khomenko, Chris Kocks, Bob McIntyre, Jason Russell, Chip Standifer, John Stepp. It was my honor to serve as 2016 and 2017 president of the Forum. I'm looking forward to 2018, as I co-chair Women in Wireless SIG with Melissa Sorrentino.

When Maury Margol, Steve Bachman, and a few others, got together in 2004 to convene the first wireless predictions panel in Atlanta, they had a vision; they were onto something big, and they were right. In 2003, there was no iPhone, Android, cord cutters, or Uber. Where are we going in 2018? Hang on for a wild ride!