INSIDE 18 months, connecting to the internet via a mobile phone will be more common than logging on through a PC, according to a report from business advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Launching PwC's Technology Forecast 2001-2003, management consulting partner Hugh Crossey said that by the end of 2002 there will be more devices connected to the internet using wireless technology, than by the traditional telephone network.
"Two years ago, 43 per cent of Northern Ireland firms used the internet for business. That has risen to 79 per cent but as internet devices become completely wireless and truly mobile, the traditional PC will be sidelined by high-powered, mobile devices delivering new business applications.
"Local companies will have to re-engineer their processes if they are to maximise the opportunities this new technology will offer.''
The report claims that inside two years, mobile telephony will be cheaper, faster and more accessible than existing telephone lines and will transform business and personal communications. Customers will be able to check bank balances, transfer funds instantly or access travel information at speeds faster than today's average PC.
Eric Berg, publications director of the report and a member of PwC's Technology Centre in Menlo Park, California, was in Belfast for the launch.
He said that mobile internet usage could transform the face of business. However, he warned that success depended on the rapid development of new applications designed for the uniqiue characteristics of the mobile environment.
"To be successful, the mobile internet will need to find its own `killer applications' - it won't just be the conventional internet delivered on a handheld device.
"This is particularly true where business professionals and consumers already have widespread access to PCs. …