High speed mobile networks have the potential to drive economic growth. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Cape Town - Mobile data is expected to jump - but many could find the enormity of that jump difficult to comprehend.
The main driver of mobile broadband growth is video, expected to grow exponentially as the cost of devices come down and more people have access to the internet.
But that data growth will come courtesy of high speed mobile networks. Ericsson became the latest company to announce a high speed mobile data connection on Thursday.
The company said it has developed a 5G network capable of transmitting data at the jaw-dropping rate of 5gbps - roughly equivalent to downloading a DVD in under 10 seconds.
"SK Telecom plans to take the lead in 5G wireless services so we are pleased to see the progress that Ericsson has already made with their live demonstration of 5G performance," said Alex Jinsung Choi, executive vice-president and head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom.Leadership
In SA, only 39% of the country is currently covered by 3G and higher speed LTE or Long Term Evolution networks are hamstrung by a lack of spectrum allocation.
Ericsson developed its 5G network by employing new antennae technologies with better bandwidth and higher frequencies. The system is not yet ready for commercial exploitation, but is an indicator of where technology is heading.
"5G promises significant performance enhancements to support future new applications that will impact both users and industry," said Seizo Onoe, executive vice-president and chief technical officer at NTT Docomo, the Japanese mobile operator.
Japan and South Korea lead the world in high speed mobile connections. South Koreans enjoy 62% of 4G penetration and in Japan, the rate is about 30%.
South Korea announced plans to build a 5G network at a cost of $1.5bn.
Ericsson predicts that LTE will continue to expand as people migrate to smart devices capable of consuming faster internet services.Internet of Things
"The Ericsson Mobility Report (June, 2014) forecasts that 85% of North American mobile subscriptions will be LTE by 2019," the company said.
Additionally, a significant percentage of data will be taken up by machine to machine communication and as the Internet of Things dawns, everything from your fridge to your garden hose could be connected to the internet.
In Africa alone, Ericsson found that mobile users were accessing 147 000TB (terabytes) of data and as costs decline, the amount of data consumed is expected to increase exponentially.
- Follow Duncan on Twitter