The Era of the sub-$100 Smartphone

Author: Dan Warren
Coverage Type: reporting
GSM Association, 1000 Abernathy Road, Atlanta, GA, 30328, United States

[Commentary] In the tech industry, the $100 price point is something of a holy grail. For almost a decade now, philanthropists have been talking about developing a $100 laptop that will close the digital divide between the computer haves and have-nots. The cost of laptops and netbooks is falling steadily, but it will be the smartphone and, perhaps the tablet, that will really bring the world online.

We are nearing the point where sub-$100 smartphones, complete with mobile broadband connectivity and touchscreens, will be widely available, enabling many more people to access a vast array of online services, content and information. Eventually, it may even become feasible to sell sub-$100 tablets with embedded HSPA connectivity. Sceptics argue that HSPA networks don't have the capacity to serve large numbers of tablet computers simultaneously. Today, that is probably true. But mobile technology isn't standing still. Some 93 operators have deployed HSPA+, an upgrade to HSPA, which makes more efficient use of the available spectrum. These HSPA+ networks deliver peak throughput speeds of up to 42Mbps. LTE, which has already been deployed by 21 operators worldwide, also offers a step-change in performance and capacity over vanilla 3G networks. U.K. regulator Ofcom said in May that its research had found that LTE and similar technologies will deliver more than 200% of the capacity of existing 3G technologies, using the same amount of spectrum. However, Ofcom acknowledged that more spectrum is also needed to meet booming demand for mobile broadband. Other regulators are coming to the same conclusion and I expect far more spectrum to be allocated to mobile broadband services over the next decade.


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