There are times when the amount of communications capacity, as available to consumers across the globe, becomes more equal, and times when there is more inequality. We seem to be heading for a time when gaps grow again.
Since 2006, gaps have tended to shrink, globally. In 2012, by one analysis, gaps began to grow again. The reason is that the introduction of new platforms tends to happen unequally, first in developed markets, later in developing markets.
With 5G coming, platform-based inequality will grow, for a time. But there are some other
developments likely to widen gaps. In the U.S. market, unprecedented amounts of new spectrum are going to be released, while spectrum sharing and massive amounts of unlicensed spectrum also are coming.
At the same time, North America is witnessing huge leaps in bandwidth supply from cable TV companies about to innovate at their own pace, separate from what all other suppliers using traditional telecom technology can do.
At the same time, significant new uses for fixed wireless, especially in conjunction with new platforms, new radio and antenna technologies and use of shared and unlicensed spectrum, are going to make possible huge increases in delivered bandwidth, at prices lower than possible using fiber to the home.
As small cell technology is more-widely deployed, gaps between rural and urban users also will start to increase again.