What the experts think
For the future, the Delphi survey experts expect a further rise in the number of broadband Internet connections in Germany. In real terms, they see the number of broadband connections rising from today’s figure of 18.7 million to 25 million by 2010. By 2015, the experts surveyed predict a total of 36 million broadband connections (see Figure 15).
The majority of experts also predict transfer rates of well over 50 Mbps in urban areas, and of over 100 Mbps for premium rate connections by 2015. The mobile Internet is set to grow in importance considerably, according to the experts, with the number of UMTS mobile telecoms connections rising to 20 million by 2010, around double the 2007 figure (see Figure 16).
This means in terms of infrastructure that there is nothing standing in the way of further digitization and networking: if the experts are proved right, the next two to five years will see a clear leap forward toward a digital society. Stationary and mobile Internet will continue to complement each other to an increasingly greater extent, with broader and more stable band connections and faster transfer rates.
Which trends in telecommunications are thus to be expected? The experts envisage above all the following seven main developments:
A MOBILE WORLD. The classical distinction between mobile and landline networks will no longer be made. All the relevant services and content will be available on the move. Mobile Internet will become a mass phenomenon.
ALL OVER IP. The world of telecommunications will be based completely on Internet Protocol, and voice over IP (VoIP) will reach an ever-wider market.
USER DEVICES. Today’s smartphones will be transformed into high-performance all-rounders, with extremely simple and intuitive interfaces. These devices will enable people to be constantly online, to remotely manage a range of different services, and access and enjoy all media in mobile use.
ALWAYS ON. With networks available wherever we go and high-performance devices, everyone will be online all of the time.
CONVERGENCE. Different industries will increasingly merge together and offer a packaged service – the clear divisions between network operators, service providers, media content suppliers, and device manufacturers will cease to exist.
MOBILE PAYMENT. Purchase and payment processes will increasingly be carried out via mobile devices.
MOBILE WORKFORCES. Staff structures will increasingly be shaped by remote working and working in virtual teams, while mobile access to virtual storage will become an everyday part of life. Overall, the working world will be far more networked than it already is today.
Consumers’ expectations of increasing digitization and networking
The consumers surveyed stated that they believed increasing digitization and networking would SIMPLIFY THEIR DAILY LIVES, particularly in terms of their work and their dealings with the authorities, as well as in their private lives (such as when shopping).
Furthermore, German Internet users expect this increased digitization and networking to bring about an IMPROVEMENT IN THE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION, with the Internet today already offering easy access to information of all types at any time of the day. The increasing availability of mobile Internet should mean that news portals, online encyclopedias and dictionaries, electronic books, and digital libraries, etc. will be accessible not only any time, but also anywhere.
In addition, consumers envisage that increasing digitization and networking in their everyday lives will make it easier to MAKE AND MANAGE PRIVATE AND PROFESSIONAL CONTACTS, lead to improvements in AVAILABILITY, enable TIME SAVING and, through that, INCREASE OVERALL LEISURE TIME.
At the same time, consumers naturally have some concerns, principally regarding the issues of data security, protection against the misuse of data, and privacy. Some of those surveyed also fear that increasing digitization could lead to greater alienation and isolation, while others worry that being constantly contactable will actually result in higher and not lower stress levels for the majority. Finally, some respondents highlighted their worries that people will become overly dependent on technology and its functioning.