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Wireless in 2011 might be summed up in a word — growth. In 2011 wireless phones and tablets became the dominant internet access technology, eclipsing desktop and laptop computers. Smartphone sales surpassed PC sales in 2011 with global smartphone penetration now running 10%.

Top Ten Wireless Trends of 2011

1. Year of 4G:
Lead by Verizon, LTE became THE access technology, eclipsing WiMAX first introduced some 2 years earlier. Verizon introduced LTE network on Dec. 5, 2010. By Oct. 20, 2011, their 4G LTE network reached more than 186 million Americans. AT&T began offering their competitive 700 MHz LTE service this September and is now in 15 markets reaching approximately 70 million Americans. The real growth is expected in the next few years, with LTE serving 6% of the population by 2016.

Related Dailywireless stories: Details on AT&T’s LTE Rollout, LTE Service in NYC Soon from AT&T?, Cricket Fires Up LTE in Tuscon, Leap Wireless Announces LTE, First LTE Phone from Verizon, AT&T Expands LTE with 4G Phones, T-Mobile Expands HSPA+ 42, AT&T and Verizon: No 700 MHz Interoperability For You!, LTE: 6% By 2016, Global Smartphone Penetration: 10%, Data Subs: 5 Billion by 2016, ITU Global Stats, Motorola Launches Public Safety LTE Solutions, Sprint: We’re Going LTE-Advanced, Too, AT&T LTE Launch: Sep 15, World’s First TD-LTE Service Launched by Mobily, Deloitte: 4G Impact on U.S. $100B , LTE Market Projections, Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced, Sprint: We’re Going LTE-Advanced, Too , Wireless Routers Go to 4G, LTE Vrs WiMAX: It’s a Wrap!.

2. Mergers (or not):
The death of the $39 billion AT&T/T-Mobile merger this December may have been the biggest story of the year but Google buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 Billion, Qualcomm Buys Atheros, Microsoft buying Skype and Sony Buys Out Ericsson were big deals, too.

Related Dailywireless stories: AT&T Merger Officially Dead , FCC Releases Critical Report on AT&T Merger, Sony Buys Out Ericsson’s 50 Percent Stake, DOJ Blocking AT&T/T-Mobile Merger, Google to Buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 Billion, Google Looses Nortel Patents, Microsoft Buys Skype, Consumer Groups Fight AT&T Merger, AT&T Files for T-Mobile Merger, AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum, AT&T Buying T-Mobile USA, Qualcomm Buys Atheros, Motorola Splits

3. Satellite Spectrum War:
Phillip Falcone’s Lightsquared has had a year of grief. Lightsquared proposed to use terrestrial towers to transmit LTE using his 57 MHz of satphone spectrum (near 1.6 GHz). It was green lighted by the FCC (pending testing) at the beginning of the year, but objections surrounding GPS interference problems has caused the company to be in the fight for its life all year. Enter Charlie Ergen. His Dish Network bought up the bankrupt ICO and then Terrestar to offer some 40 MHz in interference-free 2.1 (MSS) band. Everybody is now Charlie’s friend.

Related Dailywireless stories: Lightsquared Short on Cash , Lightsquared: A Hardware Solution, LightSquared & Sprint Announce Sharing Agreement, LightSquared Report Card: “F”, Lighsquared Plan B: 2012, Lightsquared: What GPS Interference?, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, Dish LTE-Advanced Called “Ollo”, Dish Talks Up Terrestrial LTE, Dish Network’s 700 MHz Spectrum, Dish Applies for Terrestrial TD-LTE, Ergen Likely Got TerreStar, EchoStar Closes $2B Hughes Deal, EchoStar to Buy Hughes

4. Social Networks:
The impact of Twitter and Facebook have been huge. Revolutionary, even. From Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to the economic impact of nearly one billion Facebook users, it was the year of social media. Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other website. Facebook has 800 million total users and 350 million mobile users, the company announced at the end of September. This year, Facebook is expected to bring in $4.05 billion in advertising revenues worldwide, $2.19 billion of which will come from the US.

Related Dailywireless stories: Facebook Mobile Timeline for Android, Facebook iPad App, Facebook Adds Timeline & Streaming, Google+ Open to the Public, Nielsen Social Media Report, Social Media Under Attack, Facebook Unstoppable?, Inside the Libyan Uprising, Al Jazeera & Social Networking, Twitter Turns Five, Facebook Ad Revenue Goes “Bing”

5. Apple and Google Dominate Phones and Tablets:
If the world is going mobile, then there are two clear winners; Apple and Google. Android captured 53% of smartphone sales from January-October 2011, while Apple’s iOS increased their market share to a 29%. Apple’s latest iPhone4S set a sales record while Google’s Android OS became the dominate smartphone operating system. Tablets, pioneered by Apple last year, are still dominated by Apple and its iPad2, but Honeycomb and Android 4 tablets are coming on strong, with Amazon breaking the $200 barrier.

Related Dailywireless stories: iPhone 4S Sales Set Record, Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0, Adobe Kills Flash for Mobile, IOS-5 Vs Android 4.0, Amazon Opens Android App Store, Tablets and Phones Transform to Netbooks, Apple Announces iPad2, Google Books for Honeycomb, Xoom Arrives, iPad Vrs Xoom, Nokia/Microsoft Nokia Ships 2nd Windows Phone, Nokia Dumps Symbian for Microsoft, Android Topples Nokia for Top Spot

6. App Stores:
A million apps, a billion downloads. And most of it free. Is there anything more exciting or empowering? Direct access to the world’s most creative talent is enabling a dramatic shift from the old way of doing business. Is there a better time to be alive?

Related Dailywireless stories: App Stores One Million Apps — And Growing Fast, Pocket Supercomputer, Top iPhone App Creator is 14 Years Old, Amanda Hocking: e-Book Sensation, Top 10 Wireless Apps for Android and iPhone, New Twitter, Facebook and Google Apps and Features , Halloween Apps, Netflix New Mobile App Google Goggles 1.6, Amazon Opens Appstore, Apps Enter the Twilight Zone, Medical Devices Mobilize , Social Bikes

7. White Spaces:
Unused television frequencies became a hot potato at year end. They promise inexpensive, unlicensed, WiFi-like access over blocks in urban areas and miles in rural areas. Broadcasters and cellular providers are opposed to the idea for those very same reasons. “Free” access is opposed by some in Congress who want to sell off the spectrum to the highest bidder (large telecom companies). Most tech companies and consumers welcome cheaper, more ubiquitous connections.

Related Dailywireless stories: FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington , White Space Trialed, Bills to Kill Unlicensed White Space?, White Space Trial Completed, Huawei to Trial White Space, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, White Space: Now With TD-LTE?, White Space To Go, White Space War, White Spaces Get IEEE Standard,

8. Security Threats:
Proof that The End is near seemed to be coming from The Chinese, The Russians, The US Government, Google, Apple, Anonymous, Stuxnet and WiFi which seemed to know Everything About You.

Related Dailywireless stories: SCADA: How Big a Threat?, Chinese Telecoms Investigated As Security Threat, Google Adds Opt Out to WiFi Mapping, Communications Law: Net Neutrality & Surveillance, Behavioral Targeting: Kill/Capture, Retention Times of Your Cell Info, Stuxnet: Year One, Google: Opt-Out of WiFi Location Going Global, Android Owners Least Prepared for Security Threats, Street View Cars Captured WiFi Devices, How Your Location & Preferences are Recorded, Do Wireless Devices Cause Cancer?, Phone Tracking: Hot Button Issue, Stealth UAV Relays Video to White House, Zombie Satellite Under Control, Japan Tsunami & Quake

9. Public Service Radio:
At first the issue was whether the public would be better served with commecial LTE providers bidding on the 700 MHz “D Block” to deliver shared public/private service – especially in the rural areas. Then the Obama administration did a flip-flop, supporting a dedicated, nationwide LTE network exclusively for first responders. Now the issue is how to pay for the $15 billion network.

Related Dailywireless stories: First Responders Get Bills for D-Block, D-Block Legislation Stalled, Seybold: Furgetabout Video on LTE Public Safety Band, Broadband Disability Act, Public Safety Net Removed from Debt Ceiling Bill, D-Block Gets a Hearing, Oregon’s $600M Public Safety Network Likely Killed, Colorado’s State-Wide Radio Net Underperforming, Oregon’s $600M Public Safety Network Likely Killed, National Wireless Initiative, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire

10. Birth of TD-LTE Advanced and Satellite Broadband:
The ITU initially defined “4G” as 100 Mbps speed – something only available using Advanced LTE. Clearwire was the first carrier to publicly support the standard, dumping WiMAX in the process for Time Division LTE as early as next year. TD-LTE won a huge victory with support from China and India, with other countries expected to support the standard in the 2.3 and 2.6 GHz band. Meanwhile, the first practical broadband internet satellites were launched by ViaSat, delivering real speed – up to 10 Mbps uncapped – made possible by the latest generation of High Throughput Satellites.

Related Dailywireless stories: WiMAX to TD-LTE: Everybody’s Doin’ It, Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced , Sprint’s Network Vision Detailed , Sprint’s LTE Rollout Detailed, China Mobile Talks Up TD-LTE iPhone, China Mobile + Clearwire + Apple?, India: TD-LTE Next Year?, TD-LTE: It’s Alive!, Will Sprint Go TD-LTE?, Cisco Router in Space Goes Commercial, ViaSat-1 Launched, New High Capacity Satellites for North America, Inmarsat Readies Ka-band for Aeronautical Service, High Throughput Satellite Goes Live, Eutelsat + Russia Grow Satellite Neighborhood

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