We are entering an era of exponential innovation, an era of 5G and gigabit speeds, and an era where 90 percent of the world’s population will have 3G coverage and speed or faster. But what do all these numbers really mean? Who would ever need gigabit speeds, and why are they important?

Well, let me recall my first year at Ericsson working with customer presentations. The year was 2000 and the data connections available were very slow. And it was dial-up, like in the old home modem days. I remember traveling around Europe doing promotions of mobile internet using the first smart phone from Ericsson, the R380. It had a touch screen and some applications for the business user. The browsing speed connecting over GSM was slow, when it worked. But for all the challenges, it helped open up the screen phone era.

Fast forward six years, and the first high speed networks opened. In Sweden, there was a giant leap from 384 kilobits per second to 7.2 megabits per second. The following year, Apple announced the iPhone, which dramatically changed the way we use our phones. We moved from the ear to the eye. Three years later, in 2010, the amount of data in mobile networks exceeded the amount of voice. By 2013, there was ten times as much data. The growth is exponential. And it simply does not stop.

So now we approach the gigabit world. Thanks to new techniques, technologies and industry solutions, we already know 5G will be able to deliver gigabit speeds. But 5G isn’t expected to rolled out commercially until 2020 – and we will need to meet the demands before then.

We’re already working to meet those demands now, with products like our newly launched world’s first commercial Gigabit LTE. But what exactly are those demands?

Well, think about how you use your devices these days. Chances are, you’re watching more video online – gigabit capability in the network means high-definition video streaming – even at 4K resolution – with plenty of bandwidth left over for email and web surfing. In fact you could be downloading a full movie in just a couple of minutes. It means downloading data from the net feels as swift as grabbing it from a hard drive. And it means playing games immediately without waiting for them to load

We’ve written about app coverage in this blog before – how the networks and devices need to perform optimally at any given time. Now, with the introduction of these new features in the network, it’s time to talk about “extreme app coverage”. But the question is, will the word extreme last for long, or will we need to find another in 2018?

We still won’t have 5G, but the amount of data will be 15 ExaBytes monthly. Everyone and everything around you will have the need for a better experience than today’s networks can offer. So while the gigabit speed may not reach your phone individually, gigabit speeds in the network will offer more users and devices in the same area with sufficient bandwidth. And the connection would be instantaneous, offering new opportunities for people, business and society.

Gigabit LTE is the name of the day. What will be the name of tomorrow?