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The Value of Cellular Technology
A medical professional uses her cell phone to access patient data. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Value of Cellular Technology

Urška Petrovčič & Kirti Gupta

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Cellular technologies, such as those embodied in the third generation (3G), fourth generation (4G), and fifth generation (5G) of cellular standards, have provided the foundation for a thriving mobile ecosystem that has benefited consumers and businesses all over the world. In the past 20 years, the number of mobile connections has grown almost 10-fold, reaching an ever-growing percentage of the global population. In 2017, the number of mobile connections surpassed the number of people on the planet. In 2019, mobile technologies and services added $4.8 trillion of economic value to the global economy, and the mobile ecosystem employed (directly and indirectly) 30 million people.

Although cellular technology has already transformed all facets of our society, the deployment of 5G will bring even broader and more radical changes. By connecting everything and everywhere, 5G will help us realize the full potential of connectivity and usher in the era of smart transportation, smart cities, smart factories, and smart homes. The new products and services enabled by 5G will change all aspects of our daily life, such as health care, energy, agriculture, automotive, manufacturing, and retail, among others. This will not only benefit consumers and businesses, but society as a whole.

Cellular technologies are central to this revolution. Without advances in the cellular space, none of the economic and societal benefits we see in the connected world would be possible. Therefore, it is important to understand how cellular technologies are developed and deployed, and what impact they have on the economy and on society more broadly. It is also important to understand why fairly compensating cellular innovators is essential to maintain a sustainable system where new technologies can be developed and brought to consumers.

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