We recently attended a technical gathering in which Ciena’s CEO Gary Smith presented statistics focused on the extreme rate of change of this Digital Age. While his focus was on the growth of 5G cellular service, the numbers were staggering. 95% of the population will be connected within five years. The average speed of an Internet access will grow fivefold in the same amount of time. The amount of data storage will grow fourfold to a unbelievable 20 ZBytes (a Zettabyte (ZB) is 10007).

So what is driving this projected growth? According to Ciena; radical, disruptive, revolutionary applications are. They are not only driving the need for greater connectivity, greater storage and higher densities, but because of these same applications a greater number of global citizens have entered the world economy.

In 1992 Arthur C. Clarke published a series of short stories under the title of ‘How the World Was One’. The stories all focus on international communications, from the first undersea telegraph cable spanning the Atlantic to geosynchronous satellite communications. What he did not foresee was the capacities of today’s inter-continental fiber links. Today a single fiber wavelength can carry an astounding 800 Gbps. In the vocabulary of Clark that would be a single cable that could carry some twelve and a half million telephone calls or 1.3 billion telex circuits. What connected the financial houses of the world economy in 1992 now allows ordinary citizens anywhere in the world to have instantaneous access to the same information.

An example of the applications that are bringing the world together is AirBnB. Here is an application that is disrupting the hotel industry worldwide. You can find a room anywhere in the world for an affordable stay. It is making home holders hoteliers with the same reach as Hilton or Marriott. As an example, my brother in the upper reaches of Vermont has had a very high occupancy rate for his spare rooms via AirBnB. He has had vacationers from four countries and twenty five states. A global business on a hill side in Vermont.

Another application that falls into the radical, disruptive, revolutionary category is Uber. This application is changing livery service in many cities. This application provides opportunities to the general public that own a smart phone and a vehicle. Uber and similar applications are being used globally.

The combination of the expansion of connectivity and reach of the Internet is providing a fertile ground for the growth of further radical, disruptive, and revolutionary applications. What effect these applications have on the global community we can only guess. But we can be assured that 5G cellular service and IOT devices will be at the center of these applications.