Technology that has changed the way we live, work and play

2021 was a year of tremendous challenges, but there were also tremendous strides in the world of wireless technology that changed the way we live, work and play – all for the better.

I have been in the wave industry for over 15 years, and as technology evolves, there is always plenty to be excited about. Today, over 300 million people have access to a 5G wireless network, so it’s hard to believe that this innovation became available just three years ago. 5G has been described as a transformational technology, but most transformations happen steadily – they become “trends” that occur over time. To that end, here are three trends I predict for 2022 that could have a lasting impact on households and businesses across the country.

The real change for rural America

A recent study by BroadbandNow shows that more than 40 million people in the United States do not have reliable high-speed Internet access, many of them in rural areas. A major driver of the lack of coverage in these areas is the simple economy – it can sometimes be twice as expensive to build the necessary broadband infrastructure in rural areas and there are far fewer people to help pay for service – making it cost-prohibitive. for providers and expensive for customers.

But there are encouraging signs that this will change. The latest infrastructure bill allocated more than $ 65 billion to the broadband and offers an unprecedented opportunity to expand high-speed connectivity in unused areas as well as increase customer affordability. And the government leaders I spoke to are eager to put that money into working for their constituents.

Moreover, the revolutionary new wireless technology – 5G fixed wireless – can provide connections to homes and businesses at very high speeds, providing reliable broadband access to rural areas quickly and cost-effectively. At UScellular, we have reached world record speeds in testing our wireless solution and look forward to delivering service to more customers in 2022. Our fixed wireless investments serve a dual benefit while also enabling broadband Improved 5G for consumers, allowing them to connect both at home and on the go.

I anticipate that 2022 will be the year we begin the path to significant progress in connecting rural America and connecting everyone to the digital economy.

The Internet of Things goes mainstream

You may have heard this before. The Internet of Things – or IoT – has been promoted for years, and while there have been significant strides toward the ultimate promise of a connected world, the noise has so far outpaced the results. However, the business executives I have met have shared concrete examples that show that IoT technology is beginning to offer its potential, largely due to the proliferation of 5G networks that provide the stable and fast connectivity required by IoT devices.

Hospitals are reducing costs and improving patient care by tracking the location of thousands of assets, such as beds, medical equipment and specialized instruments, as well as monitoring temperature-sensitive medications. Precise farming allows farmers to automate their irrigation systems and monitor soil quality, minimizing money and resources spent by placing only water and fertilizer when and where needed. For consumers, the expectation that everything can be tracked and connected is becoming a reality with security cameras, smartwatches and tracking low-cost items like AirTags.

According to CTIA, there are more than 190 million IoT devices in the US, representing over 40 percent of all wireless devices rated. I predict that 2022 will be the year that the IoT will really start to come out of the noise and fulfill the promise of a world where anything can be connected.

Connection for union

Perhaps the most influential change I see for 2022 is the changing technology trend that divides us online and instead helps us connect in real life. And the indications are there.

Connectivity has always been used to bring people together – phone calls, text messages, video calls, and even social networks initially brought us together, helping us connect with old friends and share important life moments. But much of the online social discourse these days is disruptive, poisonous, and sometimes even life-threatening. When people can hide behind digital disguises and talk to anonymous and faceless recipients, any online conversation can quickly escalate into a “us vs. them” split.

Encouragingly, at UScellular, we are seeing a steady increase in personal communication. One-on-one text messaging is on the rise, and after the previous year-to-year decline, phone calls to users increased on our network in 2021 – signs that people are connecting directly with each other, not around each other through social networks.

I personally have also noticed a shift towards curbing dangerous rooms of social media echoes, and often teenagers – like my daughters – are leading the way. They are becoming smarter about the implications of an ever-connected and connected life. They are aware of the value of their personal data and are putting less emphasis on “likes” and “distributions” and more on sharing experiences with people they like … their friends.

While there is still a lot of work to be done to make the internet world safe and enjoyable for everyone, I predict 2022 is the year that the pendulum begins to move away from the technology that separates us and toward the connections that unite us. So this holiday season let’s use the links for reunion. First, call your mother. Next, remove the phone and spend time with your family.

Laurent “LT” Therivel is the president and CEO of UScellular.