In the past two months, I've been reading quite a fair bit about the development of long-term evolution (LTE) in the United States, and how operators are gearing up for the next 4G wireless technology on the horizon.
Both main LTE operators in the U.S.-- Verizon Wireless and AT&T-- have been pushing the boundaries offering 4G services to potential subscribers by introducing the service in major metropolitan areas and cities.
In the past, the U.S. has been relatively slow in the wireless rollout game compared to operators here in Asia. This was certainly true of the 3G days, where markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and to a certain extent Malaysia, led the way in 3G rollouts.
But there's no doubt that the U.S. is once again a leader, or at the very least, much ahead of many other markets worldwide, where LTE rollouts are concerned. Just take a look at how many markets LTE is being rolled out in the U.S.
So what has changed?
Well, for one, the legacy systems that are owned and operated by these U.S-based operators are badly in need of a refresh cycle. This is certainly one of the main impetuses to get operators off their backs and introduce newer technology.
For instance, tech blog GigaOm reported that Sprint will be shuttering its old school iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) network to make way for its LTE deployment.
By far the main impetus for operators to transition quickly into LTE, though, must be the rise of the consumerization of IT and its associated ecosystem. With the highly competitive tablet and smartphone market, the U.S. is beginning to lead the way again in the wireless world.
A good example of this is the latest iPad launched last month, which comes ready with LTE support, albeit only in U.S. markets.
Also in the pipeline is the slew of LTE-ready smartphones that will hit the market, such as the Nokia's Lumia 900, which can boast of being one of the few smartphones in the market that can support LTE.
That said, hardware support is only one half of the equation, as the pervasiveness of such devices per se can't be the main reason why the U.S. is witnessing such a tectonic shift.
That honor, in my honest opinion, actually goes to the demand generated by social media and the need to communicate and express oneself in an online world in real time. Journalists having written about such matters for over a decade, including yours truly, have been looking for the "killer app" that will change the wireless landscape like never before.
Over the years, so many predictions have come and gone as to what constitutes the killer app in the wireless world. From voice to SMS, to mobile games, videos and the like, I have come to the conclusion that the need to communicate on a real-time basis is probably what can constitute as the killer app for the mobile world.
If you think about it, the need to communicate is what dominates Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare or Path, and many other new services coming into play.
As for Malaysia, you can bet that when 4G does eventually come into play, such applications will dominate as consumers will be sure to lap up all the new services operators will have to offer, including LTE.