A BILLION new smartphones sold worldwide in 2013 will increase pressure on already-crowded mobile broadband spectrum, leading to increased network dropouts and slowdowns, including in Australia, a new report says.
The year ahead will also see the rise of the big-screened “phablet” phone, internet-connected and ultra-high definition “4K” televisions, and the decline of standard password-only online security as hacking becomes more prevalent, the Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions 2013 report says.
Deloitte Australia lead telecommunications partner Stuart Johnston said annual global smartphone shipments are expected to exceed one billion for the first time this year.
“There will be two billion people that will have a smartphone in their hand by year end,” he said.
A quarter of those phones will only be used for voice and text, however, with some owners unable to afford data plans and many “hand-me-down” phones given to children by parents connected for non-data functions only.
There will still be 1.5 billion people accessing data from smartphones and that will put unprecedented pressure on mobile spectrum.
While Australia is better placed than most for wired broadband, courtesy of the National Broadband Network, Mr Johnston said it was in the same poor position as the rest of the globe for shortage of wireless spectrum.
Australia’s government, like others worldwide, needed to speed up the auction process for 4G broadband spectrum and realise that carriers will not pay the historic high prices paid for 3G.
“We believe that the current spectrum shortage issues that are being experienced now will get worse before they get better,” Mr Johnston said.
The Deloitte TMT report, which seeks to predict tech trends each year, tipped the “phablet” – the large-screened phone-tablet-cross device – would gain in popularity, evidenced by a number of new offerings from manufacturers at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“For those 75 per cent of (smartphone users) that are connected to the internet and using it for data services that larger screen is far more useful,” Mr Johnston said.
Mr Johnston said there was a prediction that in 2014 “the smartphone is going to start to die”.
“The iPad mini is perhaps a suggestion that that’s where Apple sees the market going,” he said.
Television will enter its next phase with the roll-out of ultra-high definition “4K” TV sets that offer four times the clarity of current high-definition sets.
Deloitte lead media partner Clare Harding said while it would be up to three years before sets are widely available, the first 4K TVs have already been sold and 4K would eventually become “the new broadcasting standard”.
Internet-connected TVs will also become more common, though few owners will buy them because of that feature – something already available via other devices.
In terms of viewing content, digital “over the top” (OTT) internet TV and video content will favour established free-to-air broadcasters over subscription online services, Ms Harding said, because the established players are offering digital content for free.
And the eight-character password for online security is nearing its use-by date, with Deloitte citing a study which found of six million passwords surveyed, the 10,000 most common would have accessed 98.1 per cent of accounts.
The report predicted that more than 90 per cent of user-generated passwords will be vulnerable to hacking, which will become more prevalent as the data stored online becomes more valuable.
“There will be more two-way authentication starting to emerge,” Mr Johnston said.