Emerging technologies shaping the future of communications

14 January 2021

Ofcom has today published a report that takes a look at some of the emerging technologies that could shape the way we live, communicate and entertain ourselves in the future.

People across the world use communications services for a wide range of purposes, and the technology that drives these services is constantly evolving.

As the UK’s communications regulator, it’s important that Ofcom is aware of the new types of technology that are likely to come into use in the near future, and to consider the effects that these developments could have on the communications services we use every day. This helps us to make sure people and businesses get the most out of these services, as well as helping us to protect them from any risks that might arise.

Last year we asked technology experts around the world to tell us what they thought would be the next major developments. We carried out interviews and invited people to contribute to our research in this area, giving us an insight into a range of new technologies that are on the horizon.

Some of these developments will lead to increased coverage and better, faster services. Others will help us to enjoy richer experiences from the communications services that we already use. And while it might take decades for some of these new services to become widely available, some will have a major impact on how we communicate in the near future.

Our report highlights potential future developments such as:

  • innovative technologies that will help providers to roll out better mobile and broadband services by using automation and robots;
  • satellite technology that can be used to provide connections for people who live in hard-to-reach areas;
  • developments in the broadcast sector, such as enhanced, bespoke coverage of sporting events that could allow us to have our own crowd noise, dedicated commentaries and camera angles depending on which teams we support; and
  • new immersive technologies that bring a sensory element to communications services, enabling people to ‘touch’ – and even smell – while they interact at a distance.

We have also put together a series of videos alongside the report, which help to explain how some of these new technologies will work, and the benefits they could bring.