As 2010 closes, I thought perhaps it would be a good time to see how I fared with my 2010 wireless industry predictions. (Also, don't forget to check out my predictions for 2011.)
Here's how I did:
2010 Prediction No. 1: Smart pipes, bravery required
Whether European operators became smart pipes in 2010 might be questionable, but they certainly began to benefit financially from the upsurge in data traffic across their increasingly capable networks.
But part of being a smart pipe operator is the implementation of intelligent access pricing, requiring the development of a deeper understanding of what traffic is passing through the network.
Well, operators certainly started to recognise what was passing through their networks in 2010--smartphone traffic--and began to react accordingly.
This mostly took the shape of dropping unlimited pricing plans for something less open to abuse. But the majority have yet to implement anything more sophisticated such as pricing access by device type instead of charging on a per-megabyte basis.
Score 0.5 out of 1
2010 Prediction No. 2: LTE is years away
Scandinavian operators continued to demonstrate to their European rivals that LTE could be deployed in a timely and professional manner, and gain the praise of analysts and consumers alike.
However, with the exception of Vodafone in Germany, nothing else of note happened regarding the commercial deployment of LTE. And Vodafone was only able to build a relatively small network in 2010 prior to larger ambitions in 2011.
Elsewhere in the main European countries, LTE still looks 18 months or two years away before large-scale networks are built.
Score 0.9 out of 1
2010 Prediction No. 3: Network sharing driven by mobile broadband
Network sharing remained a hot topic through 2010. The French telecoms regulator even got involved and issued lightly veiled threats to the main operators to get moving.
But with the exception of the U.K. operators--which either had longstanding sharing agreements or were merged--little else of any magnitude happened.
The key movement came from Deutsche Telekom inviting other German operators to talks about the sharing of LTE networks, with similar rumours coming from within France.
So, perhaps we'll have to wait to see network sharing being triggered by operators unwilling to suffer the financial weight of building their own LTE networks.
Score 0.2 out of 1
2010 Prediction No. 4: Operator app stores will languish
While app stores from handset vendors became a high-profile necessity, operators struggled to gain attention and any meaningful traction with their in-house developments.
Apple continued to rule the segment, but came under increasing pressure from Android and Nokia's Ovi Store. Far Eastern handset manufacturers made gallant attempts to battle their way into the fight--but the three heavyweight players look increasingly like they will become the dominant providers of app store services.
Score 1.0 out of 1
2010 Prediction No. 5: M2M to drive new revenues
M2M became a high-profile vertical during 2010 as several large smart metering projects moved forward. A number of Europe's largest operators also signalled their commitment to the market with the formation of dedicated teams and resource centres.
However, the revenues derived from M2M remained small as operators pulled together the necessary partnerships and entered the bidding process for these complex smart metering deployments.
But the technologies needed for M2M are now much better understood, and costs are falling. Expect to see real action, driven by central governments, starting in 2011.
Score 0.6 out of 1
Overall a score of 3.2 out of a total of 5. Not brilliant, but I would claim 2010 to be a difficult year for timing some of these predictions. I still believe M2M and network sharing will come true, but I'm less sure about operators being able to embrace the model of being smart pipes.