Futurology is a difficult thing, it is easy to get trends right but very difficult to predict just when something might happen and how big it will be.
So here in the UK we have finally sold the spectrum for the launch of 4G services and can expect rivals to EE to start launching services in the Summer. Will I be standing in line as a fan boy on launch date waiting for an upgrade?
No I don't think it will be an upgrade rather I think that my will be adding a MiFi device to my account so that I can make use of the faster data connection and the wifi connections on my Laptop, Tablet, MP3 player and e-reader when I am mobile and in an area without hotspot action. Having been at the launch of 2G, 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G services I am experienced enough to know that what the Mobile Operator wants to sell me may not equate to what I need and will not be priced in a manor that encourages use. Just look at the "smartphones" that were available at the start of 3G against the current suite of Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry or iPhone devises. Most people got their first experience via a dongle that connected a laptop to 3G than handsets, why would 4G be any different?
What I do expect to see is more innovation from the Networks when it comes to pricing. The thing about 4G is that it is all about faster data connections and thus you do not multiple accounts/devices rather a single account that allows you to connect as many devices as possible to consume a set amount of data. I do not expect the present simple structure to work, the first issue is that user has no idea of now much they have use/have left and adding multiple accounts will only make it harder to understand. I expect that we might see something that reflects the number of devices and times that you expect to use the service. A Family plan that allows say up to 20 devices use a single connection point mainly before 8:30 and after 16:30 Monday to Friday and at Weekends and a Business Plan that sees connectivity take place between 08:00 and 19:00 and has a higher speed and capacity than the Family plan.
I hope that the introduction of 4G will see innovation from the Networks that see them working with developers rather than against them to use things such as Augmented Reality and Big Data to improve user experiences. I hope that rather than have a service forced upon me that is backed by advertising I have the option to buy a subscription that means I can remove adverts.