By Prince Osuagwu
President and CEO of Ericsson, Mr Hans Vestberg has peeped through the Ericsson crystal ball, and predicted that two technological revolutions would change the world between now and 2016.
However, Vesteberg was not just predicting. He has statistics which he has followed religiously and if their antecedents are to be relied upon, the future could hardly do without them— the technology deployment and installation revolutions. For him, these two systems would change the way telecommunications services are delivered in the near future.
Vestberg made the disclosures exclusively to Vanguard in Ghana recently when he visited the Sub-Saharan Africa to preach preparedness for new ways of delivering services in line with new and emerging technologies.
From his explanation, the deployment phase looks at what kind of infrastructure could be deployed in the near future, while the installation phase, deals with a period when consumers would naturally use technology in different ways than they are used to.
The implication of these revolutions is that only those who understood their dynamics, tailor services towards them would be in business within the period under review.
Vestberg was so emphatic on these revolutions perhaps on the back of his company’s long history of shaping the future of world telecommunications industry through research and development, RD. Ericsson has distinguished itself as a clear leader in the telecommunications infrastructure business not only for the efficiency and reliability of its equipment and services but also due to its ability to predict the future and prepare operators ahead of time.
According to Vestberg, Ericsson spends a whopping 8 billion dollars every year in Research and Development, RD, to clearly understand the dynamic and change pattern of technologies that govern the telecommunications industry. He threw up some statistics which have ruled the dynamics of the industry for over a century and painted a picture of why Ericsson recently rolled out the multi-million dollar project tagged Networked Society.
The project is aimed at ushering in a new era where technology would enable more people to interact, innovate and share knowledge in whole new ways and creating a dynamic shift in mindset. Ericsson would like to see a world where more people are empowered, more businesses liberated and the society more connected than ever.
Statistics that shaped technology revolution
In Vestberg’s statistics, “it took some 100 years to get 1 billion fixed lines but it took 24 years to get 5 billion mobile subscriptions. Last year end, there was about 6 billion mobile subscriptions in the world. 85% of that population are on mobile coverage.
“If you take that and think about what will happen in the next five years, then you will have mobile subscription in the world, come up to about 8 billion. Now the most important point in these figures is that considering that about 500 million people on earth today are on fixed broad band while that of mobile broadband is 1 billion, in 2016, if the fixed broadband will grow, it would not be much, but in line with trend of growth, the mobile broadband will grow tremendously”.
What to expect in 2016
Between now and 2016 is just about 4 years away, yet, Vestberg was also confident to posit that about three times of people that have access to internet today would be broadband users. “We expect 25 billion broadband users by 2016 which is a huge leap. Today, about1.8billion people have access to internet and 92 percent of population will have mobile coverage.
“Lets also remember that the networks that are carrying these services were based on voice. Apps, data, smart phones were not intended when these networks were built, but in 2016, the network will be in total change and that is what we call technology revolution. It has two phases. First is the deployment phase, where infrastructure is deployed and the other is installation phase, when consumers would use technology in different ways”.
Benefits of the revolution
Every revolution brings with it a change and the two revolutions Vestberg predicted would also introduce a couple of changes in service delivery and consumption from what is obtainable at the moment. For instance, the consumers will change in the way they use phones. 26 percent of time used on phone would be for voice call while 74 percent will be for data related usages. This is in sharp contrast to, for instance, the past three years, where 90% of time spent on phone was voice call and 10% was for SMS and data.
The Ericsson boss said that the revolution would transform education in a way that in the next ten years from now, printing books will no longer be in vogue. Also giving the broad spectrum of coverage, speed and data possibilities, digital healthcare would be possible and this would transform healthcare and make it affordable to more people.
The place of Networked Society in the new revolution
Networked society is important in every bit of the revolution because it would enable anything that will benefit from connection, to be connected. We took from 400 different studies in 2010 from universities, academia, business, to look at what the impact of broadband is, and came up with two things that are common.
For every 10% of broadband penetration, 1% goes to GDP and for every 100 connections you get 80% new jobs. Then, if you have 1000 penetration, you have higher impact and this applies to all countries.
You can now see how important Networked society is in the need to transform our people’s behavioural pattern, transform enterprises in the society, using the technology infrastructure. That possibility is what we foresee. It fuels our belief that if by 2020, there is going to be about 60 billion connected devices in the world, then anything that will benefit people, needs to be connected. Of course, when the society is connected, the ICT industry lives up to its name. That is what we call a networked society.
What preparations for this new networked world
Ericsson is building more infrastructure and more networks around the world. Majority are based on latest technologies to accommodate the new order.
Already, roughly, 40% of mobile infrastructure in the world is on Ericsson traffic and still we are building more and upgrading those others that need latest standardization.
Don’t forget, we spend 8 billion dollars in Research and Development, RD, every year to understand all the networks that will be used in the future.
We designed technologies that help operators offer services on health care, the connected calls, online gaming, big time information management among others.
The place of emerging markets in all these
We use the same standard of technology in the whole world. We sale the same technology in Africa in US and the unique thing is that we can bring down the cost where we think is important to the world. So, Ericsson has 2G, 3G patterns in the world. That means that we are relevant. First we have to maintain standards so that we can continue to supply the world. We are the biggest mobile infrastructure providers for operators in the world.
Another area we are relevant is that we also run network services. Roughly 80% of Ericsson turnover is from installation, integration, consultation, running mobile networks, fixed networks for operators. We are providing the back_ up tools for operators to carry on what they do.
We are consultants to operators. We have 900 million subscribers in the network we are responsible for, out of 6billion on the network. Our responsibility is important because we know what consumers care about and understand what happen in the network.
Also, we build and sell software that enable billing system, operating system, so that operators can bill in different ways, prepaid, post paid real_time charging, have different data plans. All of that we have products for.
Of course, we must take emerging market standard. In taking emerging market standard, we see two things, the penetration for mobile services is lowered in this region. If you go back to five years in Africa, you will see how quick the mobile technology has developed. We see the region leapfrogging in five years.
Effects of networked society on Africa’s new mobile entrants
The next billions of subscribers coming on networked society will be subscribers who never have phones, tablets, PCs and smart phones.
Now, we are going to see a lot of innovation. The next step is to get mobile broadband for every one in this region, get connectivity to the internet, connectivity for different services. It can be connectivity to start doing business, can be simple infrastructure that can be useful for people in healthcare, education etc.
Our view on Africa is that, having stayed 50 years in Nigeria, this region represents a very important place. We are working on different initiatives on Africa and very much engaged in millions of villages where we connect rural areas with health institutions, where they have millennium Development Goals. It is the toughest challenge on earth, doing all these in education, health care etc. We believe ICT will play a vital role and we will do everything to grow the region.