Futurologist Dr James Canton has predicted that within a decade telecoms companies will be offering voice calls for free and making all their money from data services.
Dr Canton, chairman of think-tank the Institute for Global Futures, and a former advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology, said that the pace of technological change is increasing exponentially and that the next 10 years would see fundamental shifts in the industry.
Speaking at the keynote presentation on the opening day of the Alcatel World conference in Paris yesterday, he predicted that established telecoms players would go out of business if they refused to change business models.
"In the next 10 to 15 years we will see more radical innovations than in the past 25,000 years," Dr Canton explained.
"This is the early stage of a post industrial transformation. In historical terms we are emerging from the middle ages and about to come to the Renaissance."
Dr Canton went on to explain that businesses are in a stage of hyper-competition, where a technological advance could wipe out competitors that refused to change their commercial models. He refers to this process as "innovatory Darwinism".
Four key areas of innovation are identified: IT, biotechnology, nanotechnology and cognitive science.
In the IT field Dr Canton predicted that by 2010 there would be two billion global customers online and almost every item in the world would have its own IP address through RFID systems used in the supply chain business.
"The supply chain is the next battleground," said Dr Canton. "Most of the current supply chain organisation is done on a 19th century system."
In chip design Dr Canton predicted that the next big thing would be getting processors to communicate directly with each other and be updated remotely.
Existing Field Programmable Gate Array technology, which allows chips to be updated and reconfigured remotely, would become the norm and make office networks and the internet much more resistant to malicious software.
As these internet and multimedia improvements are made, Dr Canton warned that we will move into "blended reality", the mixing of artificial reality and the real world.
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