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Reasons for optimism – communications

Summary:
Advances in communications technology will be no less transformative in the next few years than they have been in recent years. The future looks to be one of increased access, lower costs and more innovative hardware.The UK government’s commitment to the rollout nationally of fibre optic cable might well be overtaken by events. Fibre optic cable is expensive to lay to remote rural areas. Rival ways of providing wifi include projects such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, with thousands of low-orbit satellites making wifi ultimately available anywhere in the world, and promise to bring telecommunications and internet access to remote areas far more rapidly and cheaply than any land-based systems look likely to offer.The future is set to give the whole world the ability to communicate with any part

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Advances in communications technology will be no less transformative in the next few years than they have been in recent years. The future looks to be one of increased access, lower costs and more innovative hardware.

The UK government’s commitment to the rollout nationally of fibre optic cable might well be overtaken by events. Fibre optic cable is expensive to lay to remote rural areas. Rival ways of providing wifi include projects such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, with thousands of low-orbit satellites making wifi ultimately available anywhere in the world, and promise to bring telecommunications and internet access to remote areas far more rapidly and cheaply than any land-based systems look likely to offer.

The future is set to give the whole world the ability to communicate with any part of it, and to enable a global conversation. Artificial Intelligence will bring automated translation, so that people with different languages will be able to speak to each other across the world. The newest translation programmes replace the tinny and flat mechanical voices of the past with the sound of the speaker’s own voice talking in another language.

As the ability to miniaturize develops, smaller instruments are appearing, and enable conversations to take place without visible instruments. Already there is the somewhat unnerving sight of people apparently talking aloud to themselves in the street while conversing with distant parties. The future might look even stranger, since the mobile phone in the pocket could well be replaced by something less substantial, even perhaps for some people a small chip inserted under the skin. And dialing will be replaced by verbal commands and questions. People will converse with computers in ways more fluent and natural than today’s virtual assistants.

Power usage by devices will be less and will cost less, and charging will probably be mostly by induction, perhaps even by just walking past fixed power points. Virtual screens and holograms will soon enable those who wish to dispense with fixed screens mounted on desks or on mobile phones to see images projected into the air in front of them.

The ability of people across the world to be able to talk to each other will present economic opportunities that far outweigh and compensate for any job losses within the telecommunications industry itself. Advances in communications will be a game-changer, changing the way people live their lives and interact with others.

To observers outside the industry and the research centres working on new developments, the progress forecast might look like the stuff of science fiction, but when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, science fiction suddenly became a part of everyday life. It will happen again repeatedly, and will bring humankind undreamed of opportunities to achieve things previously beyond their reach.

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