5 Things to Expect from the Internet in the Next 5 Years

Mar 11, 2019Knowledge

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Thinking about the future is often met with fantasy and renditions of a world we’ve only ever seen in science fiction. Flying cars, teleportation, artificial intelligence, and cyborgs are just a few future inventions which come to mind when considering where we are going. However, what does the future of the internet offer for humanity?

This is, essentially, an extremely difficult question to answer. The short answer is the possibilities are endless. We are already connected 24/7, have the largest wealth of information at our fingertips and live a life of complete digital dependence on this connection. The long answer, which we’re more interested in, could be summarised down to recent innovations and influences the internet has offered. We’ve compiled 5 things to expect from the internet in South Africa in the next 5 years.


A more connected country

Internet infrastructure in South Africa is on an exponential rise. More ISPs are joining the game with an ambition of building a connected South Africa, with Openserve having already laid over 161 000 kilometers of fibre.

The Internet is becoming more readily available, with the cost of connectivity becoming far more accessible for South Africa’s large population of lower to middle-class citizens. Fibre and ADSL connectivity may connect our homes and businesses, but a large majority of South Africans rely on mobile internet. The fifth generation (5G) of cellular wireless technology is ushering in a new era of wireless with faster speeds, lower latency and will be able to connect a massive number of mobile devices.

 This accessibility of information will aid in boosting economic growth, education, and business as more become connected.


Education evolves

A more connected country means more opportunities to educate our younger generation. Infrastructure, staff, curricula and other issues plague our school system, with fees for prestigious schools becoming too costly for most lower to middle-class households.

A move to online education and tutorage would mean access for all students who are benefiting from an internet connection whether it be at home or in a classroom. Online education has many benefits as it creates new opportunities for teaching staff and school administration, creating seamless processes, while still allowing children to learn, complete tasks and operate at their own pace. Online education can also be interactive, enabling learning to be gamified for it to be fun and captivating.

In summary, imagine each learner could have their own personal teacher tending to their needs, specifically.


Augmented and virtual reality

Augmented and virtual reality is already shaping the way some South Africans consume content. What these two concepts are essentially doing is pushing the internet into the real world in the form of applications and games. It’s taking something that’s usually on a screen, or in the palm of your hand, to a world in front of you through products such as Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Microsoft HoloLens. These products have made VR gear a lot more accessible to consumers over the past several years. While some are more advanced and have a heavier price tag, companies like Samsung are making it affordable and accessible with their mobile phones opening a consumer VR market.

While Virtual Reality may be passé, Augmented Reality is all the fuss. Games like Pokémon Go introduced a large market to the possibilities of AR. In short, AR projects information onto the existing environment (roads, walls, etc) and it’s easy to understand the benefits of such technology.

Brands have already begun to change the way consumers interact with them utilizing Augmented Reality in advert campaigns. This will shape the way we interact with the internet and aid the above point with education, making the gap between being educated by a teacher and educated by a program a whole lot smaller.


Consider your privacy

Many internet theorists are considering a ‘fully connected internet’ in our near future. What this means is we will always be online. There will be no connecting via Wi-Fi, cable, password or username, just an auto-connected, never-ending link to the world-wide-web.

What does this mean for your privacy? You’ll always be connected. Applications and corporations will always know where you are, what you’re searching for, what you’re buying, what music you’re listening to and even what you’re wearing today – if you allow them to.

It can aid your searches, your shopping habits, give you the news you need and also the music you want to listen to. There are many benefits to allowing companies like Google and Facebook to access your information, but there are also risks.

It’s important to educate yourself on what’s being shared with these companies. Sometimes information is lost or stolen, and these breaches can be costly, or annoying, to you.

2018 was a revolutionary year for internet privacy as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to take part in a congressional inquisition after the whole issue with Cambridge Analytical stealing and selling user information in attempts to influence presidential campaigns. This brought to light the obvious issues with companies and collecting data on users and what exactly these are used for. Because of this, you can feel a lot more secure about your privacy in the future – as long as you educate yourself.


An evolution in communication

No, this isn’t about holographic talking heads like in Star Wars. Communication here is how our devices talk to each other, better known as the ‘Internet of Things’. Our devices are already talking to each other all the time. Our mobile phones talk to our personal computers, updating emails, music, and calendars. Some of the more fortunate individuals have refrigerators that track the availability of products in the fridge and notify suppliers when food stocks are low. This is all without human interference. It’s a completely automated communication process that we benefit from, but aren’t involved with.

The use of products such as Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon Alexa is becoming much more prevalent in the day-to-day lives of many South Africans. According to an article by Talk IoT (2018), South Africans are warming up to voice activation with the largest majority, in the age group of 16-24, using their voice assistants to play music. Furthermore, over 23% of people in the 35-45 age group are using it for navigation in traffic.

Consumer reports are not yet available in South Africa, but globally predictions since 2017 have estimated that most new generation cell phones will have on-board neural networks and machine learning.

It’s a way of consuming information which removes any direct communication between consumer and devices. Rather, your devices are communicating and providing you with the information you need. Your news feeds will be indexed based on your likes and dislikes; the music you listen to and discover will be decided for you, and in the end, you will touch one button, and every device in your life will decide exactly what you need.

Is the future of the internet daunting or exciting?



Goo Goo Lourie. 2018. ‘Voice Assistants Are Taking Off In SA: “Hi Siri:”. Talk IoT. [Online] Available: https://talkiot.co.za/2018/08/22/voice-assistants-are-taking-off-in-sa-hi-siri/ (Accessed 25 February 2019).


Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Openserve.

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