April 05, 2001, 5:07 PM — The recent GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) World Congress apparently didn't end on a high note. An Intel VP predicted that the telecom industry was in serious trouble because of overspending on next-generation wireless communications technologies. A BBC News report concurred, noting that many communications providers paid huge sums for operating licenses and may never find a way to recoup that money.
Part of the problem is confusion: mobile phones and pagers have obvious reasons to exist. Making or receiving a phone call in your car or getting a number magically transmitted to your pocket are conveniences that practically everyone can appreciate. And more recent advances, such as text messaging, quickly found legitimate opportunities for many thousands of users.
But the next generation of communications devices plan to offer even more services (advanced wireless data access, high-bandwidth connections, etc.) -- services not everyone will need or even want. And they'll do it at a higher price and with greater complexity than we see today.
Throw confusion and cynicism surrounding the next round of communications standards into the mix, plus a slowdown of worldwide technology rollouts, and it's easy to see why some wireless telecom companies are wringing their hands and looking a little nervous.
The good news for CIOs is that high-bandwidth mobile communications may be a bit further down the tracks than previously expected. And these days, anything you can put on the backburner is a blessing.