High-speed data transfer the next step
VOICE traffic will soon be just a small component of cellular phone communications. Instead, high-speed data and even video conferencing will form the bulk of traffic on smart cellular networks that will automate just about all their functions.
Ari Kahn is MTN's manager of advanced applications and it is his job to predict and plan for future trends. He says data transmission is going to feature strongly with cellphone users in the medium term.
"We have to go back a little to get the full picture of how data transmission over the cell networks has evolved," he says.
"Just last year, sending data was a time-consuming affair. Cell users required a modem to connect a computer device to the network and it took around 40 seconds to establish a connection.
"Right now, however, it's possible to connect directly to another computer using the digital cellular network only - there's no need to transmit data over Telkom lines which are analogue. All data transfer is digital. This makes connecting quick but data transfer is still limited to a slow 9 600 kilobytes per second - about a fifth of the speed of the latest modems."
He says that cellular data connections are set to get a speed boost that will rival the fastest high-speed services over the regular telephone service and that "smart" networks will take the sweat out of sending and receiving data over a cellphone.