According to a September 2005 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, mobile phones have become one of the most successful communications products in history. In Luxembourg, mobile phones outnumber people, and penetration throughout the industrialized world is nearly as high, though the US and Canada continue to lag behind.
The most startling statistic in the report, however, is that in much of the developed world, there is almost one mobile phone for every person. Unlike the wireless system that preceded it, mobile telephony is spreading fast to people once considered too poor to afford instant communications. With markets in the industrialized world reaching saturation, in fact, developing nations are forecast to provide all foreseeable subscriber growth in the future. The fastest growing region in the world is currently Africa, with double the growth rate of Southeast Asia, a red-hot market in itself.
Mobile telephony may even find new worlds to conquer. In June 2006, Microsoft unveiled a prototype system that allows people to plug a keyboard and an ordinary television into a mobile phone, which enables it to function like a simple PC.
Then there is satellite communications. As a means for people to make mobile telephone calls, it has a challenged history, from the $10 billion bankruptcy of Iridium to the still-high cost of satphones and per-minute charges.
But on another front, satellite is opening up remarkable new opportunities in mobile. Satellite may be a challenging method for carrying individual phone calls, but it can offer startling cost, investment and network continuity advantages in the backhaul of mobile traffic. This white paper by Globecomm outlines technology advances in backhaul, switching and roaming powered by satellite, and provides a roadmap for the continued integration of satellite into the world's mobile networks.