The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Wireless Communications

Open Access
Smith, Aaron C.
Area of Honors:
Information Sciences and Technology
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • William Benjamin Gill, Thesis Supervisor
  • Rosalie Ocker, Honors Advisor
  • mobile VOIP
  • LTE
  • wireless communications
This paper analyzes past and present wireless communication technologies and their subsequent impact in the United States. As wireless technology has evolved from the 1990s to 2010, so have the capabilities available to wireless users. For example, added capabilities have allowed for mobile devices to stream audio and video content over the Internet, a feat that was impracticable just years ago. The thesis also looks at emerging technologies such as mobile voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) services and Long Term Evolution (LTE) systems and analyzes how they may affect the wireless industry within the next several years. The comparative analysis examines different hypotheses which may have an influence on the feasibility of a wireless infrastructure in the U.S. that relies mainly on mobile VOIP technologies for placing and receiving phones calls. The analysis includes a possibility tree that examines thirty-three alternative scenarios in which U.S. wireless carriers may or may not implement emerging wireless technologies that could consequently impact mobile VOIP services. In addition, the thesis incorporates a pairwise ranking that looks at the three most impactful alternative futures of the wireless infrastructures of AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless to try to determine which of the scenarios has the highest likelihood of occurrence by 2013. The paper concludes that major wireless carriers in the United States will most likely implement LTE technologies in the near future which would support a shift to mobile VOIP in the wireless industry which would have the greatest potential impact. The implications of these emerging technologies, such as the potential change in business model for wireless carriers, are discussed at the end of the thesis. The least likely scenario is that major wireless carriers do not make any enhancements to their current infrastructure, which would result in a lower possibility of a nationwide transition to mobile VOIP. Some implications of a transition to mobile VOIP include major wireless carriers losing revenue from voice calling plans. VOIP providers such as Skype would also see a significant increase in demand. By relying on a mobile VOIP infrastructure for placing and receiving calls, it is also possible that consumers will be spending less for mobile phone services.