Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Brave new world is nigh

The world is about to be gripped by a wild stampede for consumer electronics on a biblical scale. Contrary to the wishful thinking of Old Economy doom-mongers, the internet bubble is not going to burst. It is in the process of being pumped up to become a monstrous Zeppelin that will dominate the skies and block out the sun.

The driver for this is the merger of the world's two fastest-growing industries - the internet and telecommunications. The media is also on the verge of joining the greatest show on earth. Vast torrents of cash are being poured into creating a revolution in telecommunications greater than the invention of the telephone.

The recent collapse of Boo. com, or the failure of a hundred other internet start-ups tomorrow for that matter, is not going to stop the rise of this omnipresent behemoth. The new high-speed Third Generation, or 3G mobile internet networks, will offer instant download times, full-motion broadcast quality video on the move, and a million other things that have not yet been dreamedup.

Forget the WAP-enabled mobile phone. Compared with what is waiting just around the corner, this is like playing Space Invaders on the Atari games console. Leaked details of 3G prototype handsets, being developed by telecoms firms like Ericsson and Motorola, reveal devices that are more like a fusion of the communicator and tricorder from Star Trek.

The manufactures are quietly testing prototype handsets and trial networks ahead of full-scale deployment of high-speed mobile internet networks across the world in 12 months time. The trillions of dollars being ploughed into buying operating licences, building networks and developing new devices and services has prompted pundits to call it 'the biggest poker game ever seen.'

Cards are being kept close to chests, but it is clear that the Pokemon marketing strategy that has proved so mind-bendingly successful among kids will be deployed among the adult population to promote 3G to recoup those vast costs. Very soon, even Big Issue sellers will laugh out loud if you're not using the latest mobile video gadget.

Which brings us to safety issues. The police already regard mobile phones as an evil curse that must be stamped out because of the numbers of accidents caused by distracted drivers. It is probably best to avoid thinking about the possibilities for horrific bloodbaths caused by people driving and walking with their eyes down and glued on a loved one jabbering away on a mobile video screen.

Our guardians of law and order are going to have their work cut out with distracted people toppling off the edge of platforms in underground stations and underneath trains, and nagging wives causing car drivers to veer into bus queues.

Thankfully, built-in cameras will enable those at the other end to see exactly what is happening in real-time and there will be plenty of video evidence to be shown at inquests.

It is the future, like it or not.

We are all just going to have to deal with it.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.