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ITU sets new directions for wireless communication

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The ITU Radiocommunication Assembly  has made a number of significant decisions that will influence the future development of radiocommunications worldwide in an increasingly wireless environment.

The Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-15) was chaired by Akira Hashimoto. Around 460 participants from 97 countries attended the Assembly.

“The ITU Radiocommunication Sector plays a central role in the technological progress of telecommunications and information and communication technologies,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, noting that issues facing the ICT sector have become increasingly diverse and complex.

“At a time when technical solutions require greater innovation and skill, this Radiocommunication Assembly addressed the rapid changes underway in the global telecommunications environment in a manner commensurate with its future needs,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau.

RA-15 set future work programmes on many technical issues in the field of radiocommunications and approved worldwide radiocommunication standards (ITU-R Recommendations). Resolutions were approved to focus future studies and new radiocommunication techniques and applications while also agreeing on changes to streamline the working methods of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).

IMT-2020 Resolution approved, paving the way for 5G mobile systems

RA-15 established the principles and processes for the development of IMT-2020 – the next-generation 5G mobile system – as an extension of ITU’s existing family of global standards for International Mobile Telecommunication systems (IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced), which serve as the basis for all of today’s 3G and 4G mobile systems. The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), in session 2-27 November, will address the requirements for additional spectrum to support IMT mobile broadband.

The 5G systems, set to become available in 2020, will usher in new paradigms in connectivity in mobile broadband wireless systems to support, for example, extremely high definition video services, real time low latency applications and the expanding realm of the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things (IoT)

International standards for the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and its applications, including machine-to-machine (M2M) networks, smart cities and Ubiquitous Sensor Networks (USN) have been under development in the ITU Standardization Sector (ITU-T) and other standards bodies. RA-15 recognized that the globally connected world of IoT builds on the connectivity and functionality made possible by radiocommunication networks and that the growing number of IoT applications may require enhanced transmission speed, device connectivity, and energy efficiency to accommodate the significant amounts of data among a plethora of devices.

RA-15 resolved to conduct studies on the technical and operational aspects of radio networks and systems for IoT in collaboration with ITU-T and relevant standards development organizations.

Small satellites

RA-15 examined the issues related to the growing number of small satellites (with a mass less than 100 kg), including nanosatellites (typically 1 to 10 kg in mass) and picosatellites (typically 0.1 to 1 kg in mass), which provide an affordable means to access orbital resources for new entrants in space, including new space-faring nations. RA-15 resolved to develop material, such as Recommendations (standards), Reports, and a Handbook on small satellites, to enhance knowledge of the procedures for submitting filings of satellite networks to ITU. RA-15 also requested the ITU Secretary-General to bring this Resolution to the attention of the United Nations Committee On Peaceful Use of Outer Space.

Accessibility

RA-15 recognized the ongoing work in the Radiocommunication Sector (ITU‑R) to support and protect the needs of persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs. It asked ITU-R to continue studies and research related to accessibility in the development of devices and applications while promoting compatibility of new technologies. ITU-R will conduct these studies in collaboration with ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization and Development sectors and in consultation with persons with disabilities and specific needs.

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ME and Africa Consumer tech spending to hit $149bn

Reaching $130bn this year, consumer spending on technology in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow just 4% a year.

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Consumer spending on technology in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is forecast to total $130.8 billion this year, a year-on-year increase of 4.1%. According to the latest Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC), consumer purchases of traditional and emerging technologies will remain strong over the 2019–2023 forecast period, increasing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% to reach $149.4 billion in 2023.

86.3% of all consumer technology spending in 2019 will be on traditional technologies such as mobile phones, personal computing devices, and mobile telecom services. Mobile telecom services (voice and data) will account for 68.7% of this amount, followed by mobile phones which will account for 26.6%. Spending growth for traditional technologies will be relatively slow, with a CAGR of 2.4% for the 2019–2023 forecast period.

“Faster connectivity, combined with declining data service costs from telecom service providers and the need for end users to use telecom services for an increasing number of devices, will ensure that consumer spending on traditional technologies will continue to grow,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

Emerging technologies, including AR/VR headsets, drones, on-demand services, robotic systems, smart home devices, and wearables, will deliver strong growth with a five-year CAGR of 10.2%. This growth will see emerging technologies account for 17.1% of overall consumer spending in 2023, up from 13.7% in 2019. Smart home devices and on-demand services will account for around 93% of consumer spending on emerging technologies by the end of the forecast period.

“The low penetration of smart home devices in the region, combined with growing efforts from market players to educate home users on the benefits and usage of these devices, will serve as an engine of growth for consumer spending on emerging technologies,” says Charakla. “A large portion of end users are already looking to invest in devices that will improve their productivity and quality of life, two key demands that smart home devices can be positioned to fulfil.”

On-demand services represent a new addition to IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide. “On-demand services enable access to networks, marketplaces, content, and other resources in the form of subscription-based services and includes platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify, among others,” says Charakla. “As connected consumers juggle multiple services across their devices, it is essential for technology providers to understand how the adoption of these various technologies and services will impact their customers’ experiences in the future.”

Communication and entertainment will be the two largest use case categories for consumer technology, representing more than 79% of all spending throughout the forecast. More than 70% of all communication spending will go toward traditional voice and messaging services in 2019. Entertainment spending will be dominated by watching or downloading TV, videos and movies, as well as listening to music and downloading and playing online games. The use cases that will see the fastest spending growth over the forecast period are augmented reality games (49.5% CAGR).

The Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide quantifies consumer spending for 22 technologies in ten categories across nine geographic regions. The guide also provides spending details for 23 consumer use cases. Unlike any other research in the industry, the Connected Consumer Spending Guide was designed to help business and IT decision makers to better understand the scope and direction of consumer investments in technology over the next five years.

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Could robots replace human tennis players?

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While steeped in tradition, tennis has embraced technology on multiple fronts: coaching, umpiring and fan experiences. Since the early 2000s, the Sony-owned Hawk-Eye system has been assisting tennis umpires in making close calls. At Wimbledon, IBM’s Watson AI analyses fan and player reactions in real-time video footage from matches to create highlight reels just minutes after the end of a match.

Meanwhile, at the ATP Finals in London, similar data analysis is being carried out by digital services and consulting firm Infosys.

GlobalData’s Verdict deputy editor Rob Scammell hears the future of tennis discussed at a recent panel discussion about the use of data analytics and technology in the game.

Scammel writes: “Infosys has been partnered with ATP for five years, providing features such as its cloud-based platform, which leverages artificial intelligence to analyse millions of data points to gain insights into the game.

“Players and coaches can also make use of the Infosys’ Players and Coaches Portal, allowing them to “slice and dice” matches on an iPad with 1,000 data analytics combinations. This is data crunching is vital according to Craig O’Shannessy, strategy analyst for the ATP World Tour and a coach for 20 years – including for the likes of Novak Djokovic. 

O’Shannessy says: “Video and data analytics is crucial for giving players an edge. It’s about finding out of 100 points, the 10 or 15 that matter the most, and explaining that these are the patterns of play that you want to repeat in these upcoming games to win those matches.”

However, although Chris Brauer, director of innovation at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, asked whether the “inevitable conclusion” of technological innovations in tennis was removing humans from the game entirely. ATP chair umpire and manager Ali Nili suggested that while there could one day be robot players adjudicated by robot umpires, it would be an entirely different sport.

Nili told GlobalData: “At ATP, we’re most proud of our athletes. It’s our athletes which make the tennis exciting. It’s how fast they are, how strong they are being. As humanbeings, we compare them to us and we’re fascinated by the things that they’re able to do. They’re the number one attraction for anyone who comes in, watches tennis, and everything else is secondary, you know, all the data and everything else, because we try to make our athletes more appealing.”

Could robots replace human tennis players?

Raghavan Subramanian, associate vice president and head of Infosys Tennis Platform, says it’s a “very philosophical question” and that we can look to the precedent set by other ‘man vs machine’ face-offs.

“In chess, we had [Garry] Kasparov play against the computer. So I think the natural first transition will not be two robots playing against each other, but one robot, possibly playing against the best player today. That’s the first possible bridge before two robots play.”

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