Ones and Zeroes: 4G wireless subscribers to double; deep learning gets down to the chip level | Crain's

Ones and Zeroes: 4G wireless subscribers to double; deep learning gets down to the chip level

  • 4G LTE is expected to remain the backbone of wireless broadband connectivity for many years. | Photo by Michael Coghlan Flickr

    4G LTE is expected to remain the backbone of wireless broadband connectivity for many years. | Photo by Michael Coghlan Flickr

  • More than half of the global population will have a 4G subscription by the end of 2020. | Photo by ETC@USC Flickr

    More than half of the global population will have a 4G subscription by the end of 2020. | Photo by ETC@USC Flickr

Welcome to “Ones and Zeroes,” the feature where we separate Silicon Valley’s winners and losers by the numbers. In honor of the binary code that undergirds the technology business, positive developments earn a “One,” while negative news gets a “Zero.”

One: 4G to reach 4 billion

The number of 4G long-term evolution (LTE) subscribers worldwide is expected to double during the next five years, according to a forecast from ABI Research. Total subscribers to the high-speed wireless standard will rise to 4 billion in 2020, up from 2 billion in 2017. This means that more than half of the global population will have a 4G subscription by the end of 2020.

While much of the discussion in the wireless world focuses on the next-generation 5G standard, 4G LTE is expected to remain the backbone of broadband connectivity for many years, ABI stated in a press release. LTE carries 67 percent of today’s total mobile traffic, a total that will increase to 82 percent in 2022, the research firm noted.

On the downside, wireless average revenue per month (ARPU) is declining in the lucrative U.S. market. Operator ARPU in the country is expected to decline to $25 in 2022, down from about $43 now, ABI predicted.

One: Deep learning gets into chips

The artificial intelligence (AI) market is exploding, as companies of all sizes pour into the market with new cognitive technologies, including deep learning solutions. The deep learning segment of the AI business has primarily been focused on software solutions. However, that’s changing now, with the arrival of microchips specifically designed to run deep learning algorithms, according to the market research firm Tractica.

Shipments of such microchips—called “chipsets”—will surge to 41.2 million units in 2025, up from less than 1 million in 2016, Tractica predicts.

“The need for hardware acceleration was recognized in academia, but few companies ventured into developing specialized chipsets until now,” said Anand Joshi, principal analyst at Tractica. “AI applications demand higher performance and lower power. The world’s top semiconductor companies as well as a number of startups have jumped into the race to meet these demands.”

One: The prognosis is good for the healthcare IT market

Hospitals and other medical institutions increasingly are turning to information technology (IT) solutions to cut costs and comply with government regulations. Because of this, worldwide healthcare IT spending is expected to more than double in the coming years, according to a forecast from the research firm Markets and Markets. Revenue will expand to $280.3 billion in 2021, up from $134.3 Billion in 2016, the company stated in a press release.

Markets and Markets specifically cited the increased adoption of health information exchanges and electronic health record systems for driving the need for more IT systems.

March 15, 2017 - 4:47pm