There's little doubt as to where telecoms operators are going to focus their efforts in the immediate future: 5G technology. And Asia appears to be the region most willing to set the pace, with operators in India and China having already joined forces to hasten its arrival.
As Tech2 reports, India's Bharti Airtel has signed an agreement with China Mobile, which will see the two operators first share expertise to maximise 4G technology, before moving on to develop future mobile technologies.
The agreement was signed by China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua and Bharti Airtel founder and chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. Mittal suggested it is an optimum time for the two firms to come together, with both countries having entered a phase of "explosive data-led growth".
The scale of the partnership seems even greater in the context of the fact that India and China account for nearly a third of all mobile subscribers globally. Airtel ranks amongst the top four mobile service providers worldwide in terms of subscribers, while China Mobile is the world's largest operator both in terms of customer base and revenue.
As founders of Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), the operators will cooperate on standards and product development, and promoting ecosystem to accelerate the commercialisation of TD-LTE, a 4G technology, before switching focus to evolving 4.5G/5G technologies.
The partnership will also see both operators draw up a joint strategy for procurement of devices that include portable Wi-Fi devices, smartphones, data cards and LTE consumer premise equipment – routers, modem and USIM (Universal SIM).
It's hoped that this will lead to "immense benefit of economies of scale to buy equipment and devices at very low price", the operators said in a joint statement.