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How will ICT Shape the World in 2025?

Huawei Global Industry Vision (GIV)

Intelligent information and communications technology (ICT) is advancing at a lightning-fast pace, finding new application in every decision we make – from buying books and plane tickets online, to applying for news job or bank loans, even managing our health. It is also gaining foothold in the workplace, advancing the digital transformation of different industries across the globe.

Huawei is working to enable the industrial digitization process. As part of this commitment, we have developed the Global Industry Vision (GIV) as a blueprint for future ICT industry development based on statistical analysis and scenario-based projections. The year 2025 will be an age of "+ Intelligence", where ubiquitous, efficient, and intelligent connections will fuel the development of all industries.

Ubiquitous Connections

Ubiquitous connectivity will lay the foundation for the future intelligent world.

The GIV forecasts that by 2025, there will be 100 billion connections worldwide, 530% more than 2015. Connectivity will become the primary driving force of national economies. It will also be a basic factor of production for all businesses, as indispensable as electricity itself. Ever-present connectivity will also speed up the process of social change.

By 2025, 77% of the global population – or 6.2 billion people – will be connected. Connectivity will be a basic human right and a necessity for survival.

Miles up in the sky, out in the ocean, across rolling deserts, connections will be everywhere, enabling unrestricted communications and exchange of ideas.

Smart devices will be everywhere, and they will become the basic platforms for life and business.

Smart devices will grow considerably in quantity and take myriad forms. They will weave their way into every aspect of our lives, from clothing and consumption to shelter and transportation. Their role will also change, from just a tool that people use, to personal assistants, and over the next twenty years they will eventually become an integral part of the human body.

The GIV predicts that by 2025, there will be 40 billion smart devices worldwide, up 470% compared with 2015. That means that every person will have five smart devices on average, and 20% of the global population will own more than ten smart devices.

Smart devices will grow to become a key component of digital life. By 2025, there will be eight billion smartphones, 20 billion smart home devices, eight billion wearables, and three billion tablets and PCs. By this time, smart devices will see far wider and more frequent application, becoming core platforms for commercial activity and significantly boosting economic efficiency.

Home broadband coverage will soar and transcend geographic restrictions.

Ultra-broadband rollout will pick up speed around the world, and 5G applications will come into widespread use. According to GIV forecasts, by 2025 the worldwide penetration rate of home broadband will reach 75% (fixed broadband: 55%; mobile broadband: 20%), with Gbit/s access available to 30% of households. Around 100 million households will have access to 1 Gbit/s mobile broadband. This will mark the beginning of the ultra-broadband era. With a 1 Gbit/s broadband network, people can download a 4GB 1080p HD video in just 30 seconds. High-quality Gbit/s broadband networks will provide ubiquitous access to all rooms and in all corners of the house over a Wi-Fi connection. They will also support smart home applications, such as household AI assistants and remote healthcare.

Huawei believes that broadband networks will become basic household infrastructure, just like gas pipelines. Small home offices will become the norm. Broadband networks will dramatically change the way people live and work: They will enable unhampered communications, interaction, and collaboration across all geographic locations, including remote islands, mountainous regions, and densely populated urban areas. In effect, broadband networks will significantly boost economic growth.

Efficient Connections

Cloud will be the natural choice for all industries as they go digital.

Cloud computing will lower the barrier to innovation and deliver efficiency gains. More and more enterprises will migrate to the cloud. In 2025, the majority of business processes will be reconfigured around digital technology. All IT solutions will be cloud-based, and more than 85% of enterprise applications will run on the cloud. As cloud computing becomes pervasive, it will raise the bar for bandwidth and latency, both for the internet and intranets alike. By then, all enterprises will be digital businesses.

Cloud services will deliver significant gains in efficiency. They will help boost operating efficiency and slash application rollout times by as much as 90%, leading to far more rapid innovation. Cloud services will also help enterprises make the most of IT resources to maximize benefits across the board. According to the Cloud Energy and Emissions Research (CLEER) model, moving common productivity and CRM applications to the cloud may reduce energy consumption up to 87%.

 

The ICT industry will pioneer new forms of environmentalism and facilitate green living.

If the ICT industry continues to consume energy at its current rate, then ICT carbon emissions over the next 50 years will ultimately cause a rise in sea level that will submerge tens of thousands of square kilometers of land. Fortunately, the ICT industry is getting greener. As green energy technology continues to advance, photovoltaic (solar) energy will account for 10% of all electricity generated, up from the 2% it's at today. Energy conservation and emissions reduction technology will also mature. For example, energy-efficient routers will be able to intelligently distribute energy and reduce consumption in non-peak hours. Base stations will integrate solar power generation and storage functions. Lower-power connectivity devices will be widely used. The average energy efficiency of wireless base stations will grow from 60% to 80%.

According to GIV projections, in 2025, average carbon emissions per ICT connection will drop to 15kg, a massive decrease of 80% relative to 2015 levels. The amount of power saved by the global ICT industry in 2025 alone will be worth trillions of US dollars, freeing up enough energy to power New York City residents for ten years.

 

Data consumption per person and mobile video traffic will experience explosive growth.

Data consumption will soar, driven by three major factors: constant network access, a growing array of high-quality content, and growing bandwidth. According to the GIV, data consumption will grow to four gigabytes per person per day in 2025, a nearly tenfold increase over 2015. That is equivalent to about one 1080p HD movie per day. The percentage of mobile data consumption will grow more than threefold, from 7% in 2015 to 25% in 2025. By then, every mobile user will consume an average of one gigabyte of data each day, which is 30 times more than consumption levels in 2015.

In the ultra-broadband era, HD, virtual reality, augmented reality, and holographic video applications will grow in diversity and popularity across a number of different scenarios (such as videos for entertainment, monitoring, and social media). In 2025, video will account for more than 90% of all internet traffic, becoming the primary means of communication. Explosive growth in data traffic will contribute to a more prosperous information-flow economy.

 

Intelligent Connections

Data volumes will surge and provide endless streams of input for machine learning.

Storage costs will continue to drop. Digital transformation will sweep through all industries. Devices that generate constant streams of data (such as cameras) will increase substantially. The GIV estimates that in 2025 the amount of data generated and stored globally per year will reach 180 zettabytes (180 billion terabytes), a twentyfold increase relative to 2015.

In 2025, the amount of data generated and stored every second globally will be equivalent to 140 years' worth of 1080p HD video. The volume of new data will be beyond what human beings can manually process. Therefore, machines will take over the majority of data processing work and provide key insight for intelligence-based decisions.

Smart personal assistants will grow in popularity and become portals to online services.

Overwhelmed with a myriad of information, apps, and services, users find it increasingly difficult to find exactly what they need in an accurate and efficient manner. That is where smart personal assistants come into play, helping users work more effectively and live better lives. Smart personal assistants will take off with advancements in machine learning, which will become the primary method of information processing, and intuitive voice interaction, which will become the primary form of man-machine interface.

According to GIV forecasts, by 2025, 90% of smart device users will employ the help of smart personal assistants. This will bring the majority of people into the AI era, where the AI-enabled smart device market will be worth hundreds of billions of US dollars.

Smart personal assistants will connect with the cloud (which will serve as a digital brain of sorts) under an AI as a Service (AIaaS) model. In this way, assistants will serve as the portals that connect users to a vast array of tailor-made online services for both work and life – anytime, anywhere, and on any device. By talking to their smart assistants, users can access information more quickly and make more informed decisions.

Smart home robots will gain in popularity and change the way people live.

As AI and home service applications mature, smart home robots will become increasingly affordable. By 2025, 12% of households will have smart home robots. This market will be worth hundreds of billions of US dollars, and will change the service models for a number of different industries, including healthcare services for communities with aging populations. Certain types of smart home robots will become the core source of smart home services, improving standards of living and reshaping the way we live our lives. Similar to the automobile industry, the smart robot industry will drive modernization across many different sectors and gradually impact the fundamentals of economy and society.

In 2025, all industries, businesses, and individuals will be more closely connected than ever before. Boundaries will break and structures will reform, and this will become the new norm for many industries. Ubiquitous, efficient, and intelligent connections are driving the digital transformation process, and will soon usher humankind into a Better Connected World.