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A Retrospective Look at the Future of Communications

Here are some industry trends to watch out for, including IoT telemetry.
By Dave George
May 26, 2019

It's become an annual tradition to publish my thoughts and opinions on where I foresee advancements, trends and growth in the communications industry. Before crafting this year's forecast, I looked back at previous years and noticed four trends that repeatedly showed up as they continued to develop and evolve over time.

The Push-to-Talk Kick Off
In 1996, the first commercial push-to-talk (PTT) service was introduced in the United States. Though readily adopted in the utilities, transportation and business sectors, it took quite a bit longer to proliferate in the public sector. However, due to radio frequency shortcomings, agencies were forced to consider alternatives. Eventually, first-responders learned that by augmenting land mobile radio (LMR) devices with PTT applications on smartphones, which most carry on the job anyway, they could communicate with the radio system, even when their radio couldn't.

Since then, PTT has evolved exponentially, primarily driven by the advent of FirstNet and other LTE networks. PTT morphed into Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC) and Mission Critical PTT (MCPTT), while smartphones and tablets optimized by PTT accessories were integrated by many agencies, and PTT accessories continued to advance and will become more comprehensive with new and usual features. The sum total opened the door a little wider for the public sector's transition from LMR to PoC/MCPTT systems.

All-in-One Devices
Everyone continues to clamor for devices that serve multiple purposes. By way of a sanity check, picture a police officer wearing a hundred pounds of equipment, then add a body camera and other new tools to his burden. All personnel carry smartphones as well, so why not create one that's public-safety-specific, add a fiber-optic lens, tie it to a high-performance network and eliminate the need to wear a body cam?

Infrared cameras, gunshot and facial recognition, hazardous chemical detection and many other applications could be packaged together and customized by industry for one primary device rather than multiple. Mission-critical communications are equipped with a variety of applications, as are other markets like aviation and field services. Regardless of the diverse end-user programs and devices, the need to consolidate is universal.

The communications ecosystem comprises smart applications, systems and purpose-built intuitive devices supported by network services. As time goes on, better equipment and technologies will deliver more efficient ways to receive information and, as long as there are powerful networks able to support it, that's the direction we're heading.

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