Mobile spectrum headed for smartphone traffic jam
There will be 1.5 billion people accessing data from smartphones and that will put un precedented pressure on the mobile spectrum. Photo: Louise Kennerley
A BILLION new smartphones sold worldwide in 2013 will increase pressure on already-crowded mobile broadband spectrum, leading to increased network dropouts and slowdowns, including in Australia.
The year ahead will also see the rise of the big-screened ''phablet'' phone, internet-connected and ultra-high definition ''4K'' television, and the decline of password-only online security as hacking becomes more prevalent, a Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2013 report says.
Deloitte Australia lead telecommunications partner Stuart Johnston said global smartphone shipments are expected to exceed one billion this year.
''There will be two billion people that will have a smartphone in their hand by year end,'' he said.
A quarter of those will only be used for voice and text rather than data functions.
There will still be 1.5 billion people accessing data from smartphones and that will put unprecedented pressure on the mobile spectrum.
While Australia is better placed than most for wired broadband, courtesy of the national broadband network, Mr Johnston said it was in the same poor position as the rest of the globe for shortage of wireless spectrum.
Australia's government, like others worldwide, needed to speed up the auction process for 4G broadband spectrum and realise that carriers will not pay the historic high prices paid for 3G.
''We believe that the current spectrum shortage issues that are being experienced now will get worse before they get better,'' he said.
The report, which seeks to predict technology trends each year, tipped the ''phablet'' - the large-screened phone-tablet-cross device - would gain in popularity, based on new offerings at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
''For those 75 per cent of [smartphone users] that are connected to the internet and using it for data services, that larger screen is far more useful,'' Mr Johnston said.
He said there was also a prediction that in 2014 ''the smartphone is going to start to die''.
''The iPad mini is perhaps a suggestion that that's where Apple sees the market going,'' he said.
Television will enter its next phase with the rollout of ultra-high-definition ''4K'' sets that offer four times the clarity of current high-definition sets.
Deloitte lead media partner Clare Harding said while it would be up to three years before sets are widely available, the first 4K TVs have already been sold and 4K would eventually become ''the new broadcasting standard''.
Internet-connected TVs will also become more common, though few owners will buy them because of that feature - something already available via other devices.
The report predicted that more than 90 per cent of user-generated online passwords will be vulnerable to hacking, which will become more prevalent as the data stored online becomes more valuable.
''There will be more two-way authentication starting to emerge,'' Mr Johnston said.