When Francesco Grilli and his peers were working on the 4G standard, they had a few ideas as to what the popular use cases might be. Video calls over the internet, perhaps, or rich messaging content, they thought. “In the end, none of that really happened on a larger scale,” Grilli said. “Other stuff we were thinking about didn’t materialize.” As vice president of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, Grilli’s job largely revolves around imagining how people would use advanced networks.
What he didn’t expect, back when he was helping define 4G, was that video streaming would explode in popularity the way it did and become the most obvious benefit of the new network technology. “4G made it possible to do video streaming, which was not conceivable before,” Grilli told Engadget at Google I/O this week.
The biggest users of 4G’s video streaming capacity today are Facebook and YouTube, according to Grilli, something the world wouldn’t have imagined back when the standard was being drawn up.
The increased bandwidth paved the way for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to add video posts to users’ feeds, and the explosion of mobile video spurred generations of flagship phones designed to display and capture high-quality footage.