Fourth Wave

“4th Wave has forced people to think about what’s next”

– CEO & President, AT&T Mobility

“I came across Chetan’s 4th Wave thesis a few years ago and thought it was the perfect framework for understanding the transformation that wireless operators are (or should be!) undergoing.”

– Vice President, CTIA


In 2011, we started thinking about the new revenue streams that can power the mobile industry for the next few decades. Mobile data was just starting to show its strength and industry wasn’t really thinking about what’s after mobile data. Our analysis showed that mobile data revenue curves will hit peak sometime this decade in some of the markets and eventually, mobile data curve just like voice and messaging will start to decline. The notion of the 4th Wave was born which led to the first paper in the series – “Operator’s Dilemma (And Opportunity): The Fourth Wave.” It started the conversations amongst leading operators around the globe.

Many of the progressive operators adopted the 4th Wave framework for their strategic execution. Infrastructure players were also influenced by the paper and very soon, 4th Wave was being discussed at board meetings around the globe. We had the good fortune to serve on some of the boards as well as lead the transformation at many companies. In 2014, we wrote a follow-up paper – “Fourth Wave: Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars.” By 2016, it was becoming clear that the 4th Wave could be used as a tool to measure and compare the players in the complex digital landscape. Right now, it is hard to compare operators with OEMs or Internet players in any meaningful way. So, we developed the 4th Wave Index to analyze the ecosystem more granularly which lead to the third paper in the series – “Fourth Wave Index: Benchmarking the growth and evolution of the mobile ecosystem.”

We continue to refine our understanding and our perspectives based on what we see from our in-depth research as well as our work around the world with key players ranging from governments, operators, Internet players, VCs, and startups.