The current standard, 4G, although initially released in 2008 only really took off commercially in 2010. It is worth noting that the largest spike in global smartphone sales also occurred that year, when shipments jumped 75% from 173.5 million units in 2009 to over 300 million units in 2010. We believe the two events – the switch to 4G and the spike in smartphone sales – were connected. Newer generations of phones are now designed to be backward compatible. For example, a 4G phone can communicate through a 3G or even 2G network. But, the opposite is not true: a 3G phone cannot communicate through a 4G network.

Following the dramatic growth spurt in 2010, worldwide smartphone shipments continued to rise for the next 6 years, but at a slowing pace. Then in 2017, shipments actually contracted for the first time, declining 0.5%. Indeed, as more of the world now owns smartphones, growth has stalled. Experts in the industry are expecting another decline of 0.2% for 2018. However, the next generation of mobile communication networks could easily reverse this downward trend . . .

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