Ericsson has unveiled its vision for a Networked Society, in which 50-billion global mobile connections would be enabled by 2020 – and in which South Africa would be a full participant.
These mobile connections would be between mobile handsets, machine-to-machine and to other devices. In this Networked Society people, knowledge and information are connected for continuous transformation driven by collaboration and creativity.
The launch of the Networked Society is part of Ericsson’s campaign to show how the company is helping to improve lives and empower people, business and society by the introduction of mobile broadband and increased Internet connectivity.
Ericsson is already well on track to bring the City of Johannesburg Broadband Network Project to fruition. The R1,2-billion contract calls for an ultra-fast broadband network connecting all parts of the city. To date, more than 300km, or one-third, of the fibre has already been laid and more than 100 buildings are connected across Johannesburg, three months ahead of schedule.
Ericsson has also released in Networked Society City Index which ranks cities around the world on the basis of development of ICT-enabled benefits. Johannesburg, which is listed at number 22 is the top ranked city in sub-Saharan Africa.
A World Bank study points to broadband as a key driver of economic growth in developing countries, providing a boost of 1,38 additional percentage points to GDP growth for every 10% increase in broadband penetration — higher than any other telecommunication service.
The growth of Internet usage in Africa is among the fastest in the world, with many countries achieving 20% penetration from a base of near zero just 10 years ago (according to internetworldstats.com). Despite this, the ITU pegs broadband penetration in Africa below 4% at the end of 2010 – and about 95% of this is mobile subscriptions.
Ericsson is demonstrating how broadband can be used to improve education in South Africa through a trial being run at a government primary school in Diepsloot. This pilot project has shown that using low cost tablets connected to the internet through broadband has improved the pupils ability to learn.
The company has also piloted teacher-to-teacher as well as teacher-to-pupil training over distance using broadband. A pilot project showed Westbury High School in Sophiatown beign taught by teachers at St Stithians in Randburg via a broadband link.
Lars Linden, head of the sub-Saharan region for Ericsson, comments: “We see the benefits that are possible when things, as well as people, are connected intelligently. When one person is connected, their life changes; when everything is connected, the world changes. That is the essence of the Networked Society.”
Shiletsi Makhofane, head of marketing, Strategy & GIR for Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa, adds: “We believe our strategy for the Networked Society is relevant for South Africa because of the powerful impact broadband can bring by developing the economy and creating jobs.”