“I do think the technology industry and the demand for technologies has never been greater,” he says in a phone interview.
“One of the thing I have talked about, which I believe strongly, is that 5G is a pretty important piece of the technology puzzle. But the point about 5G is that it is rising at the same time as a number of other technologies are maturing.
“By that I mean cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things are all maturing. So you have got this combination of technologies all maturing and coming together at the same time.
“Over the next decade you are going to see a world where an increasing number of things are connected and producing incredible amounts of data and where we have got the computing capacity to handle that data and process it in the cloud. The artificial intelligence and the machine learning will enable us to really give us critical insights from that data.”
Penn says the confluence of these maturing technologies will lead to “incredible transformation, automation and digitisation over the next decade”.
When Chanticleer asks what Penn learnt at CES this week, he highlights four trends, all of which should benefit Telstra in its home market.
The first is 5G connectivity, which, he says, will enable a whole range of consumer electronics to use cases that require high-speed connections and low latency.
The second big trend is the emergence of electronic assistants usingequipment supplied by Amazon, Google, Apple and Sonos. In the United States this trend is known as voice-ification of the net. About 40 per cent of US households with internet connections have installed speakers that respond to voice commands.
Penn says Telstra’s partnership with Google allows Telstra customers with Telstra TV to use voice-activated commands to find programs and watch them. He says Australians will increasingly use integrated devices like these.
“We are definitely seeing continued growth in scheming and more content being made available,” he says.
“The other big one of the content side, which is also related to the technology side, is gaming. I don’t know if this is true but I was told that more people are now watching online gaming than are attending live sports.
“Whether it is true or not I don’t know but the point is gaming is absolutely huge and it requires enormous amounts of bandwidth and low latency.”
The fourth trend identified by Penn at CES was smart homes.
“What sits behind the smart home from our perspective is Wi-Fi,” he says. “We are about to see the roll out of the next generation of Wi-Fi, something called Wi-Fi six. That will make significant improvements to Wi-Fi in conjunction with what they call mesh networks.”
Penn says the remarkable thing he finds about CES each year is how quickly it comes around and how much technology progresses in the space of a year.
“It’s invaluable to come at the beginning of the year and I think 2019 will be very much about 5G and the delivery of devices,” he says.