Pick up any newspaper today and it is a safe bet that you will find an article somewhere relating to mobile communications. If it is not in the technology section it will almost certainly be in the business section and relate to the increasing share prices of operators or equipment manufacturers, or acquisitions and take-overs thereof. Such is the pervasiveness of mobile communications that it is affecting virtually everyone?s life and has become a major political topic and a significant contributor to national gross domestic product (GDP).
The major driver to change in the mobile area in the last ten years has been the massive enabling implications of digital technology, both in digital signal processing and in service provision. The equivalent driver now, and in the next five years, will be the all pervasiveness of software in both networks and terminals. The digital revolution is well underway and we stand at the doorway to the software revolution. Accompanying these changes are societal developments involving the extensions in the use of mobiles. Starting out from speech-dominated services we are now experiencing massive growth in applications involving SMS (Short Message Service) together with the start of Internet applications using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and i-mode. The mobile phone has not only followed the watch, the calculator and the organiser as an essential personal accessory but has subsumed all of them. With the new Internet extensions it will also lead to a convergence of the PC, hi-fl and television and provide mobility to facilities previously only available on one network.