hi-tech

Gadgets and services were set to forget

21.09.2012 | By Stanislav Yurasov

By the year 2020 the majority of telecommunications services that Ukrainians grew accustomed to since childhood will disappear from the market and will be replaced by services provided by the new generation

In this article we predict when outdated telecom services used in Ukraine today will go the way of the dinosaur, including pagers, public telephones, telegraph, analog TV, wire radio, home phones, outdated cell phones, CMC, WAP and even computers

1. Pagers

Pagers practically disappeared from the telecom market in 2011-2012. Last summer the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine registered only 26 functioning pagers that mainly taxi drivers used over the past several years. The era of pagers for private business people ended in 2007, when there were only 2,000 registered users of such a form of communication. Pager communications reached its peak at the end of the 1990s, when mobile phones were not yet affordable for most consumers. But in the early years of 2000 after the introduction of cheap pre-paid services proposed by mobile phone operators and the boom of text message (SMS) technology, pagers gradually went into extinction. In 2002 the total number of messages sent by pagers was around UAH 20 mn.

2. Public payphones

At the end of Q2 2012 nearly 17,000 public pay telephones were in operation. Such phones were an extremely popular form of communication in Ukraine in the 1990s. 15 years ago the replacement of public payphones that accepted small change and tokens to modern phones that accept plastic cards began, which was like a mobile phone for the poor. At the time any holder of such a card could easily make an emergency call from the nearest public payphone.

Payphones reached their peak in 2003, when the sale of chip cards that were accepted by more than 70,000 operating phones brought Ukrtelecom UAH 126 mn in revenues. Then the minimum monthly revenues from one apparatus were UAH 150. Today, this figure is three times less. While such public phones have for years been unprofitable, they have nevertheless been registered on the list of universal communication services. So, despite the fact Ukrtelecom is stubbornly refusing to give up the operation of its public payphones, they are quickly facing their countdown to extinction.

3. Telegraph

Congratulatory telegrams have transitioned to the list of exotic services. The new generation does not use such services. This form of communication reached its peak of popularity in 1982, when Ukrainians sent 85.3 mn telegrams. Last year only 1.4 mn telegrams were sent and their number is steadily in decline. Given this, the telegram will be relegated to the dustbin of history by the year 2014.

4. Analog television

Analog TV, the most popular service in Ukraine with nearly 9 mn users will become history by the year 2015. In 2006 Ukraine signed the international Geneva Convention according to which digital television should be aired throughout the entire country. Although the corresponding network was installed in 2011, the receivers of this new form of broadcasting were far from up to standard. The state allocated hundreds of millions from the national budget to opportunely provide decoders to civil servants that have certain fringe benefits. Cable analog TV, which is considered the second most popular television service in Ukraine, is also in the stage of digitization.

5. Household phones

Land-line communication is a service that is will not likely be relegated to the dustbin of history first and foremost due to its reliability. Indeed, unlike mobile networks the electro-magnetic impulse of a nuclear blast, the possibility of which cannot be ruled out, will not destroy them. However, old household telephones will soon have to be altered as the state-of-the-art high-speed telecommunications networks that will provide users access to an integrated Internet, TV and telephone cable, a kind of home switchboard that will support Wi-Fi services on a computer or TV screen.

However, so far Internet penetration in Ukraine is not as advanced as fixed link communications technology. The fact is that only one of every three Ukrainians that have a land line phone has connectivity with the web. The average Ukrainian subscriber of Ukrtelecom uses an alternative provider for access to the Internet. As a rule, in such cases they disconnect one of the cables to save money and then their phone service is cut off. This is precisely the reason why the number of standard telephones in Ukraine is gradually in decline. In the first half year of 2012 approximately 12 mn telephone lines were operating in Ukraine. This is 200,000 less than last year and is a clear indication that standard household phones will very soon become obsolete and a good part of subscribers will switch to universal home IT knots that support fixed calls. Given this, it one can predict that traditional land-line phones will become obsolete no earlier than the year 2020.

6. From mobile to smart

It should come as no surprise that mobile phones that became popular 10 years ago were considered super-modern gadgets will soon become dispensable. The fact is that the old generation of mobile phones is gradually being squeezed out of the market by new leading edge smart phones. The main difference between smart phones and mobile phones is that the former are perfectly designed and adapted to provide users access to the Internet.

The second quarter of 2012 was the breaking point in this sphere. According to data of GfK, over this period the sales of smart phones exceeded that of standard mobile phones. Clearly, the total number of mobile phones sold remains higher, but this market is rapidly growing. The trend shows that next year the sale of standard mobile phones will be much lower in terms of units sold and revenues.

Ukrainians constantly upgrade their mobile phones. Indeed, around 8-10 mn cell phones are sold annually. Given this, it can be presumed that by 2019-2020 very few Ukrainians will be using outdated and out of fashion mobile phones.

7. Texting

A fairly large number of accompanying services will disappear from the market together with outdated mobile phones. By the year 2020 Ukrainians will almost fully bid farewell to SMS or text messages. In 2010-2011 mobile operators came up with a temporary solution to the problem by selling SMS services in packages. Initially, Ukrainian mobile phone users were elated by this latest gimmick and the revenues of mobile communications operators shot through the roof. But in the second quarter of the year the popularity of SMS packages dropped. For example, the revenues from the sale of SMS packages offered by MTS-Ukraine fell by 11%. The fact is that Text messages through smart phones are quickly being replaced by sending messages via social networks or chat lines by e-mail. This process is inevitable.

8. WAP

Besides SMS, Ukrainians will very soon forget the technology of WAP-Internet adapted to old models of mobile phones. Based on the results of Q1 2012, the number of subscribers in the Kyivstar network that used the Internet via mobile phone almost equaled the number of subscribers of WAP: 3.3 mn versus 3.8 mn accordingly. Moreover, the revenues from the standard Internet are currently five times higher than revenues from the adapted version.

By 2020 all communications services in Ukraine will be provided on the basis of unified IP data transfer networks. Subscriber devices will be able to connect to any operator stationary or mobile through 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. All services for the transfer of personal information will be saved in a remote data center that will contain millions of messages, postings, photos, video clips, films, images and other materials for users. Then such gadgets will not require a built-in memory as it will be easier to download content at any given moment and into any given account, for example, in a social network.

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