The last decade has seen significant changes. Mobile devices, networking technology, personal productivity, business communications—all have leapt forward in ways unimaginable not long ago. And the next decade promises even more, because we are on the brink of a networked society in which every device, function and computer system that would benefit from a network connection will be connected. By 2020, Ericsson believes more than 50 billion devices worldwide will be networked. The full extent of the revolution that will arise from that is unknowable but we are sure of one truism: when one person is connected that changes his or her life, and when everything is connected that changes our world.
How? Predictions are difficult but one way to look to the future is to think about problems we would like to solve today and then imagine how a networked world can help.
For example, driving should be safer and more efficient, so perhaps we will build roads that signal to cars when there is an accident or dangerous weather conditions ahead, or a traffic jam will trigger an alert so drivers can take a different route, saving fuel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Or consider vending machines. On a hot afternoon, a family stops at a drink machine only to find it is out of the desired beverage. This inconveniences the family and denies the vending company some revenue. If that machine had used a network connection to inform the local distribution centre of its dwindling stock, the afternoon would have been a happier one for both the family and the vending company.
The networked world can also contribute greatly to health care. Health services is often considered the largest vertical market in Canada and it is only gaining in importance as the population ages. Electronic health systems can assist in making care delivery both more efficient and less expensive. A recent research report projects that smartphone apps will become the core applications for mobile health solutions. Of the 500 million projected users by 2015, half will be healthcare professionals. Those users will rely on fast and ubiquitous networks.
This networked society will be built on three pillars. The first is mobility, the freedom to be productive, entertained and connected anywhere. Consider that it took 100 years to build one billion fixed phone lines, but only 20 years to add five billion mobile subscribers. The next five billion will be connected even more quickly.
The second pillar is broadband, the power to access significant amounts of data quickly and reliably. Studies from consulting firm Arthur D. Little found that for every 1,000 additional broadband users, roughly 80 new jobs are created, and every 10 per cent increase in a country’s broadband penetration delivers a yearly GDP boost of approximately one per cent, adding millions of jobs around the world.
The final pillar is mobile, another growing sector. We project that by 2016 mobile data traffic will increase 25 fold, an almost unimaginable change in how people use networks and think about communication.
We picture it this way: mobility plus broadband plus the cloud equals the new ICT industry.
The picture painted here is not far-fetched; the networked world is just on the horizon. And Ericsson is helping to bring that world closer. Since opening our office in Canada, Ericsson has invested more than $3 billion in R&D here, with $353 million spent in 2010 alone.
That investment and the innovative researchers it employs means Canadians are building the most advanced networks worldwide, based on the LTE work being done right here. And that is moving us towards the networked society.
For more information, visit www.ericsson.com