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Plugging into the future
[December 17, 2012]

Plugging into the future

Dec 18, 2012 (Khaleej Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The world is constantly changing and refiguring itself to match our needs while it--s being transformed by the forces of cloud, big data and mobility.

Technology is affecting everything. From the way we run governments, pay our bills, conduct our businesses, use our smartphones, watch TV, pay bills and stream music. The digital divide has now taken on a new meaning and exciting innovations are shaking up every industry. The competition will be fierce and some, if not many, will fall by the way.

These invisible changes are taking place day-by-day and minute-by minute as Internet traffic doubles and triples and tech firms work quietly behind the scenes to find intelligent solutions that will help people and nations.

The tech revolution underway is igniting conversation, as we found out. In a hall far away from the madding crowd and the mega city of Sao Paulo -- which boasts of a hip and fizzy nightlife and a population of 20 million -- experts from the music, technology, economy, banking, communication, marketing and innovation industries settled down for a marathon session and exchange of ideas and opinions on the impact and future of technology and how best this knowledge-without-boundaries revolution can be leveraged for the benefit of all.

These influencers were in Sao Paolo for the annual Ericsson Business Innovation Forum to debate strategy and offer solutions that will help solve the most challenging IT trends. It was led and moderated by Douglas Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategist, at Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications major.

The choice of the country could not have been better. According to Paulo Bernardo, Minister of Communication, 27 per cent of Brazilian homes are connected and "in a couple of years, 50 per cent of the country will be connected." It was in this connected environment that the experts from Ericsson and their guests debated the future of technology.

"We get up connected, go to sleep connected and with every tick of the clock the world gets even more connected," says Douglas. "Technology is changing the way information is shared and increased broadband deployment can only have a positive impact on economic growth and raise the standards of living for citizens at all economic levels." Brazil, which has the world's sixth largest economy by nominal GDP, is expected to move up a notch by early 2013. This is the very embodiment of what Ericsson's experts call a Networked Society.

Thirteen years after the Brazilian telecom industry was privatised, its revenues for 2010 were $114billion, representing 5 per cent of the country's GDP. Mobile penetration is expected to reach 145 per cent before the end of this year with subscriber numbers increasing 19 per cent annually. Ericsson, which first established its office in Brazil in 1924, has cornered 40 per cent share of the telecom market in Latin America.

"Expectations of mobile-network quality have been elevated by the availability of smartphones and tablets that have changed the way we use the Internet," says Douglas. According to , reported global sales of tablets -- iPads and Android, Windows and Google-based flat, touch-sensitive screens -- are expected to hit 117.1 million units in 2012. "By 2016, tablet sales are projected to hit 282.7 million, outstripping the market for hard drive-based laptops. And the desktop computer, that bulky, stationary machine where millions of people have stored their digital music since the mp3/iPod revolution of the late-1990s and early 2000s, will be going the way of the typewriter." "Mobility is becoming an increasingly significant part of our daily lives; we always have devices within arm's reach, allowing us instant access to information, entertainment and social interaction," Douglas explains. And the impact of this mobility will rise over the next three years as senior positions are filled by digital natives -- people who have grown up with smartphones and access to the Internet -- says a report by mobile and telecoms analyst group, CCS Insight. "A generational flush will see an influx of these digital natives taking responsible roles, and this will have a profound effect on business processes and policies." According to Ericsson's Mobility Report, total mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 6.6 billion globally by the end of 2012 and 9.3 billion by the end of 2018. These figures do not include machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions. Mobile subscriptions have grown by around nine per cent year-on-year and two per cent quarter-on-quarter.

By mid-2012, LTE coverage was provided for an estimated 455 million people globally. Within five years, more than half the world's population is expected to benefit from to LTE coverage. LTE is the fastest-developing system in the history of mobile communications in terms of buildout and uptake. LTE is currently being deployed and built out in all regions, and total subscriptions will increase from around 55 million at the end of 2012 to an estimated 1.6 billion in 2018.

But societal development will lead to changes in the way mobile and wireless communication systems are used. "Life will change with mobility and the Cloud. Innovation, collaboration and new business models will further unlock the value of networks," predicts Douglas.

The avalanche of mobile and wireless traffic that is forecast to jump a thousand-fold over the next 10 years will see a whole new world opening up before us. A world that could, according to stories appearing in the book, "see elephant seals equipped with antennas on their heads to help map the oceans, satellites used to target mosquitoes to help us better understand malaria, an SMS system preventing the sale of counterfeit medicines and smartphones that can predict you're going to get depressed." Get ready for a brave new world.

___ (c)2012 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) Visit the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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