How phones and the internet have changed over the past decade

As Bridgend-based telecom company DataKom celebrates its 10th year in business, MD Jay Ball reflects on how tech has changed over the last 10 years.  

10 years feels like a relatively short time – just 10 years ago in Wales the smoking ban came into force, and Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister.  That all feels quite recent – but a lot has changed since then.

Similarly at DataKom, we’ve gone from 1 employee to 25, and from £0 turnover to £2.8million.  We’re proud of that growth – and grateful to our team, partners and suppliers for being on that journey with us.

In 2007, the very first iPhone was released. Considering how embedded it has become in our culture, it’s easy to forget that 11 years ago there was no such thing as an iPhone. That’s when DataKom started, and the pace of change has been relentless and exciting.

Phones have been a big influence in changing the habits of internet use. In 2007 we used the internet for just 36 minutes per day on average. Now, that figure stands at 3.09 hours. That has impacted the way we do business, the way we socialise and the way we live our lives in general – some things good, some things not so good.

From buttons on mobiles, the move to touchscreens has been one of the biggest. It’s changed how we interact with our phones and how we see them. The way we use mobiles has changed, with more and more calls made using VoiP services such as WhatsApp and Skype – with 1.2 billion WhatsApp users worldwide in 2017.  We’re finding that providing employees with mobiles is an essential part of many businesses, particularly with the increase in remote working.

Landline phones have improved and become more specialised, but the biggest change in business phone systems has been the growth of VoiP type services. At DataKom one of our most popular products is now KloudPBX, a VoiP based system, and it adds to our portfolio of products that we fit to our customers.

You might be surprised to learn that in 2006 there were 33.6million landlines domestically, and in 2016 there were 33.2million. Not quite the decrease you might expect – and landlines are especially useful for businesses that handle a lot of calls and extensions – so don’t forget about landline technology yet!

The Welsh context

The change in tech has had a big impact on Wales specifically. Being based in Wales we’ve seen that first hand, and we really believe tech is the future of Welsh business success.

In the 10 years since 2007 average internet speeds have more than trebled, but it’s easy to forget that there are people who still can’t get fast internet. Specific to Wales, 10 years ago there were a lot of “notspots” where there was no broadband provision.

Services like satellite broadband have helped to plug that gap and digitalise rural communities in Wales. We’ve braved the Welsh weather and installed solutions that have helped bring faster internet to hard to reach places.

There has been a big push for Superfast Fibre across Wales – much like the rest of the UK – over the last 10 years, too.  Progress has been slow at times – with WG ministers criticising the programme for not achieving the 30MBPS target by 2015. But the eventual rollout happened, and while there is debate about the metrics used as targets – there is no question that Wales has seen faster speeds than ever.

With Wales being a big tourist centre, we’ve also been doing a lot of work installing our Kloud WiFi product. It’s basically a compliant guest WiFi service, but it allows places like caravan parks, hotels and bars to also capture user data for future marketing purposes. These sorts of innovations are the simple things needed to bring people back to Wales again and again (as if the beautiful countryside wasn’t enough).

The future for Wales and tech

There has been a lot of change politically too – and it seems like we are on the cusp of good news in Wales, for example the Swansea Bay City Deal, which promises to provide high-tech jobs and infrastructure – something we look forward to being a part of delivering in the future.

After a lot of discussions over the last few years about “tech industries” and the “digital economy”, it seems like we’re finally going in a direction where those visions are being achieved. A number of digital companies and ventures are springing up in Cardiff and Swansea – partly helped by initiatives like TechHub Swansea and Tramshed Tech Cardiff.

Companies are recognising that infrastructure and expertise, and the move of Aston Martin to Wales is a good example of how infrastructure can help attract the world’s best companies to Wales.

We’re optimistic of a great 10 years ahead for DataKom, Wales and the UK, and we’re looking forward to driving that journey through the technology solutions we provide.

Image credit: Josh Hallett