Industry association the GSMA claims mobile operator data revenues will overtake voice revenues globally by 2018, driven by a surge in demand for connected devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
The GSMA’s new report, developed in partnership with PwC, highlights a number of statistics it says will 'revolutionise people’s lives over the next five years.'
Touted benefits in developed countries include a saving of $400bn in healthcare costs in OECD countries from mhealth services, a saving of one in nine lives through emergency calling services via so-called ‘connected cars’, a reduction in student drop-outs by eight per cent or 1.8 million children, thanks to meducation services and a reduction in carbon emissions by 27 million tonnes (the equivalent of planting 1.2 billion trees) via smart metering technology.
In developing countries, the report argues that mHealth could help save one million lives in sub-Saharan Africa; mAutomotive technology will improve food transport and storage, which could help feed more than 40 million people annually, equivalent to entire the population of Kenya; mEducation could enable 180 million students to further their education; and intelligent transport systems could reduce commute times by 35 per cent, giving commuters back a whole week each year.
'Mobile data is not just a commodity, but is becoming the lifeblood of our daily lives, society and economy, with more and more connected people and things,' said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at GSMA. 'This is an immense responsibility and the mobile industry needs to continue collaborating with governments and key industry sectors to deliver products and services that help people around the world improve their businesses and societies.'
However, data centre network operator Brocade warned that public sector organisations need to share infrastructure and networks if the public and operators are to fully benefit from the surge in data usage.
Marcus Jewell, head of Western Europe at Brocade, said: 'The report found that data could overtake voice revenues in the UK as early as next year, but the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we ready for it?
Consumers certainly are; you’ve only got to look at the huge growth in mobile devices and increasing demand for connectivity at home and work to see that. But the public and private sectors are both trying to deal with connected devices and mobile data, with the same old methods for filing and moving it around. It’s a bit like going out in a snow storm without a warm coat or umbrella; if organisations are to deal with the data storm they need to be prepared.
'The opportunities that better technology bring for healthcare and education is massive. We are already seeing telehealth services tackle stroke and diabetes in some parts of the country, and children are increasingly using tablets and interactive whiteboards in schools. However, at the moment all of this innovation is still siloed. If we’re all to truly benefit from better connectivity we need schools, hospitals and businesses to talk to each other and collaborate by sharing infrastructure and networks. By starting to future-proof the way we carry data around now, businesses and public services will thrive in the mobile world. Those that don’t will be left out in the cold.'