MindBullets 20 Years


New tax to exploit rampant growth in universal communications

In a surprising move, Evelyne Huytebroeck, Belgium’s Minister of Finance announced in her webcast this afternoon that CamPhone Tax would be extended to include all W4G (fourth generation wireless inter-net) transmissions, while fuel tax would be done away with. A snap survey of the audience during the last minute of the broadcast indicated 64% in favour.

With more than 10 million Belgians using W4G devices and handsets, this is the broadest based economic activity in the country, surpassing commuter transport, alcoholic beverages and financial services, including the lottery.

“The fourth generation wire-less web for universal commu-nication (W4G) has transformed the economic landscape of Belgium, and the world,” said Huytebroeck. More people watch iVideo than scheduled television, and almost everyone has access to a CamPhone.

As a result, commuter road traffic has dwindled to a fraction of the rush hours of the past, and you can talk ‘face to face’ at any time. Market feedback and public opinion are constantly monitored, and citizens can register their displeasure at a government decision with a touch of the ‘No’ key.

Of course, the change from a tax on handsets to a transmission tax is not without its challenges, and Huytebroeck released details of the new government W4G taxation switches, which will monitor all traffic by SDOID (Secure Digital Originating Identifier), which prevents spam and illegal transactions.

The sheer volume of transmissions means that the tax on an individual ‘call’ will be so small as to be virtually unnoticeable, while heavy users of W4G will ultimately pay more, which automatically balances the tax against economic activity and wealth.

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

Analysis and Synthesis – Timeline

2001: Wi-Fi hotspots mushroom

Wireless network (Wi-Fi) hotspots spring up all over the urban US. ‘War driving’ becomes a popular pastime. Starbucks puts free Wi-Fi Internet access in all its outlets to attract laptop customers. Airport lounges follow suit. GBIA (Global Broadband Internet Alliance) boasts over 2000 member hotspots worldwide.

2002: Hotspots go mobile

Boeing and airlines make Wi-Fi access available on board long-distance flights. Plans are revealed to do the same for high speed trains.

2003: Wireless technology proliferates and accelerates

Intel rolls out Centrino chipset for notebook computers, which puts Wi-Fi onto the mainstream corporate platform. Centrino notebooks sell at a premium to Pentium 4 models, and include Wi-Fi capability as standard, although it’s based on the slower 802.11b (11Mbs) standard. HP, Dell and Toshiba release PDAs with built-in Wi-Fi and Windows Mobile 2003, capable of e-mail, instant messaging and Internet browsing. Motorola teams up with Microsoft to launch Smartphones with similar capabilities over GPRS, as well as being a GSM cell phone.

SanDisk announce compatibility list for the new ultra-small SD (Secure Digital) card with Wi-Fi. Unfortunately no Microsoft Smartphone is on the list, despite the fact that smartphones also have SD slots. Broadcom announces the AirForce One Wi-Fi chip which reduces size and power requirements by over 80%.

Oct 2003: D-Link launches XtremeG range of wireless access points, routers and gateways, offering 802.11g wireless networking at 54Mbs, and XtremeG mode at 108Mbs, compatible with Centrino. D-Link produces low cost wireless bridge which enables any device (PC, laptop, printer, PlayStation, smart display) to connect to XtremeG WLAN. Microsoft confirms plans for the Xbox Wireless Adapter.

PersonalTelco, whose mission is “To promote and build public wireless networks through community support and education” reports that the PTPnet is fast moving from research to reality.

Nov 2003: Several vendors launch versions of Taiwan mobile phone manufacturer HTC’s Voyager Smartphone, which includes integrated digital camera, GPRS, Bluetooth and Microsoft Smartphone 2003 software, the first phone operating system using .Net technology. AppForge announces new product called “Crossfire” that will provide .Net development platform for Palm OS, Pocket PC and Symbian phones.

Sony Ericsson and Nokia both release Symbian phones with integrated cameras capable of short video clips and SD slots. Toshiba sets a new standard in handhelds with the release of the e805 PDA with Wi-Fi, VGA resolution, multiple-window browsing, and USB port. Samsung announces the i700 PDA Phone with Pocket PC Phone Edition, integrated camera, GPRS and SD/IO slot. The Samsung i600 Microsoft Smartphone claims SD/IO Wi-Fi card compatibility.

Smart Traffic gives US Smartphone users interactive reports of traffic conditions, complete with colour coded street maps.

Intel purchases privately held Mobilian Corp., makers of an integrated Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chipset called TrueRadio for cell phones. Texas Instruments Inc. demonstrates a multi-chip reference design that combines Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GSM/GPRS wireless technologies into a single PDA. Nokia increases its stake in Symbian to 63%.

2004: Wi-Fi voice and data networks emerge and merge

BT develops Wi-Fi phones to connect consumers to their network using voice over internet protocol (VOIP), to claw back revenue from cellular operators. As these phones initially only offer voice, they have to be given away ‘free’ to attract customers. Usage of BT hotspots located in phone booths rises initially, then drops off as charges remain time based. Vodaphone rolls out hotspots co-located with cell phone masts.

More businesses discover they can create their own wireless WANs across city precincts operating at 108Mbs without any Telco fees. This spawns a host of metropolitan area networks (MANs) that give broadband corporate network capability to any business willing to buy the equipment. Home connectivity to the corporate network soon follows as equipment prices fall. The FCC allows 108Mbs (Turbo Mode) MANs in the license free 5,7GHz spectrum.

Intel Centrino 2 joins the standard at 108Mbs.

2005: W4G and the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator

As “G” WLANs proliferate, peer bridging becomes the norm. D-Link launches W4G range, providing wireless networking at 432Mbs in the 2,4GHz spectrum, with backward compatibility to XtremeG and Centrino. This allows full broadcast quality bi-directional video to any connected device. Open Source Wireless is born, with every node having only one rule – allow any node to use you as a bridge.

SanDisk announce the XG Wi-Fi card, giving Smartphones the ability to connect at 108Mbs. Battery power becomes the limiting factor for mobile Wi-Fi operation.

Microsoft MSN signs with T-Mobile to form the first W4G mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Although connections are only guaranteed at 108Mbs, enthusiasts find 432Mbs possible in most high density areas. The number of wireless internet gateways worldwide exceeds 120,000.

In a desperate attempt to bolster declining market share and outdo Marconi, both Cisco and Nortel announce W4G Super Switches, capable of switching 256,000 concurrent sessions from a stand-alone device, with four times the effective area of GSM cells. Ballard produces fuel cell batteries that can power these switches in remote locations for up to 2 years without maintenance.

2006: CamPhone replaces Smartphone

LG, Intel and Microsoft team up to produce the W4G CamPhone, with always-on video/audio communication capability and bio-battery power. Sony is forced to license the technology from LG to protect its brand equity. Nokia clings to Symbian but sees declining market share.

2007: Deregulation the only way forward>

Australia follows the lead of Brazil and the US and deregulates the 2,4GHz spectrum, allowing the ‘citizen band’ networks to operate without carrier control. Apple sells one million iMovies in the first month of operation, with help from Sony Entertainment. Video shops close or go online as consumers switch to DVD-on-demand. Sales of bio-battery fuel cells soar.

2009: Consumer and business use blur

Consumers with CamPhones replace TV reporters as a primary source of news. Live visuals are streamed in from wherever the action is. Cinemas are replaced by iVideo auditoriums, where the audience interactively ‘votes’ for scene sequences and plot alternatives using their CamPhones. Broadcast television and satellite services switch to being wholesale carriers of iVideo to consumer devices. Street crime slumps as every CamPhone user becomes a surveillance camera. e-Govt goes interactive.

2010: CamPhones drive tax revenue

Belgium becomes the first country to derive the major portion of its tax revenue from W4G.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.