Mobile broadband promises to bring change to many nations
Hakan Eriksson is chief technology officer at phone giant Ericsson and has also overseen the company's research efforts. Here he speculates about the changes mobile broadband will usher in.
The past 10 years have a seen a huge change in the way we communicate.
The mobile phone is nearly ubiquitous, with many countries reaching 100% penetration. The internet has become practically a basic resource in many parts of the world, like water or electricity.
There's a growing consensus that access to communications and independent information using these tools is a basic human right.
The next 10 years will see these two essential elements of our daily lives - the mobile phone and the internet - come together in ways that we can't yet imagine. But one thing is for sure - mobile broadband will change our lives just as the first mobile phone did.
The process has already begun. From the early days of mobile communications and simple talk and text second-generation (2G) technology, we've quickly embraced 3G technology.
This has seen an explosion in popularity over the last year, as a combination of internet-enabled devices and easy access methods such as 3G dongles and 3G-enabled laptops have made it easier than ever to access the internet on the move.
But this is just the beginning. We're already looking forward to 4G. But what does 4G mean?
Quite simply, it means the internet will be everywhere, all the time, for everyone.
For the first time in history, we will have a truly world-wide web, in which everyone on the planet has access to the internet, and has the ability to learn, share and communicate.
It will also herald an increasingly interconnected world, where more and more devices around us will be able to communicate with each other. This has already started with current 3G technologies such as High Speed Packet Access.
For the youth of today, this next step will seem as natural as fixed line phone was for my generation. My children have grown up using computers and surfing the internet, and are never without their mobile phones.
For these "digital natives" mobile broadband will be a natural extension of their lives.
Eriksson: Mobile broadband will make the web truly world-wide
They will expect to be in touch and connected wherever they travel and whatever they're doing. They will share information and content with their friends as quickly and easily as normal conversation.
Imagine sitting on the bus on the way home from school or work. On your mobile, you check your Facebook site, and can immediately see where all your friends are located.
Seeing that some of them are in a café on the way home, you make a quick video call to say you're on your way. You've got a few minutes, so you finish watching the high-definition programme you downloaded this morning. Once it's finished, you send it straight to a friend who likes the same programme too.
Mobile broadband means all these applications will work instantly, wherever you are.
It will also be the technology which finally makes the internet truly global.
Many remote regions in the world still lack access to basic communications due to the prohibitive cost of providing fixed line technology. Mobile broadband technology will help overcome those limitations.
It is cheaper and faster to deploy and already it is being used to provide people access to valuable information for the first time, allowing children to access education services, villagers to find important medical advice or farmers to check crop prices.
It has already been shown how broadband can positively impact a country's Gross Domestic Product and mobile broadband will enable many more countries to benefit in this way.
So people have already started to benefit from mobile broadband connections, and this is just the beginning. One day, mobile broadband will connect us all.