Fairfax Tech Column

Fairfax Tech Column

04.1.2019 Fairfax Tech Column 128


You would think I would be old enough to know better. I have been writing and speaking about technology for over fifteen years and this year is my thirtieth involved in the technology industry yet I still don’t seem to have learned from the past. Every now and then I have a rush of blood after a wild New Year celebration and decide that it is a good idea to make some predictions about what the world of technology will bring this year.

Inevitably when I look back at those predictions twelve months later, I look down at my feet and shuffle them nervously in the hope that everyone was watching the Sydney Test match at the beginning of the year and didn’t take too much notice of my predictions.

Despite all of that history, I am going to have another crack this year…Wish me well.

In the world of mobiles, we have witnessed 5G in real-world situations. Across the world, various carriers have started trials or small roll outs of 5G. I have several predictions for 5G for this year. Firstly, we will see 5G available in all major metropolitan areas in Australia but sadly I don’t believe we will have 5G in regional inland centres by the end of the year. In terms of devices, I predict that the major manufacturers will have several 5G mobile handsets and mobile broadband devices and notebooks and tablets by the end of the year. Some of these devices will be foldable handsets as foldable phones will make somewhat of a comeback this year – maybe some with foldable screens. While on mobiles, I predict by the end of this year that mobile phone users across the world will be using a combined twenty exabytes of monthly mobile data. An exabyte is a giga gigabyte. A big number! Our current growth rate of mobile data usage globally is growing at over forty per cent. Part of this data trend will be in relation to consuming video content as I predict that officially the Internet will globally surpass TV this year in terms of minutes spent consuming content.

If we look at something else that is mobile – just slightly larger – I predict that we will hit the six million mark for total sales of plug-in electric vehicles by the end of this year. Towards the end of 2018 we hit four million across the world but the pace of adoption is accelerating and I have previously written about the plethora of new electric models that we will see this year. Helping with that prediction is another prediction – Tesla will hit the 500,000 mark for vehicles produced this year. I am not convinced that Tesla will not be bought by someone else by the end of the year but regardless of who owns Tesla, they have to increase their capacity to survive.

While on electric transportation, I predict that major motorcycle manufacturers will introduce mainstream electric models by the end of the year including the most unlikely of them all – Harley Davidson. When you think of a Harley motorcycle you think of throbbing guttural rumbling noise. As the world changes the best companies in the world must also change and I predict that Harley will go along for the ride (I also predict we will see more bad puns in this column this year).

To power these electric cars and motorbikes, we need electricity. I have two specific predictions for electricity production related to huge projects. I am cheating a little with these two as they are projects that have been announced and approved – but not yet finished.

Firstly, I predict the largest solar park in the world will be built this year in the Sahara Desert. The Benban Solar Park will have the capability of producing approximately 2GW of power. That is larger than the Liddell Power Station in NSW that is being decommissioned in 2022.

I also predict the largest offshore wind farm will be in operation by the end of the year. Hornsea Project One is located one hundred and twenty kilometres off the coast of Yorkshire in the UK. This is a 1.2GW project that will consist of 174 turbines. Hornsea Project Two, Three and Four are also in the planning stages with a total planned capacity of 6GW. The largest wind farm in the world is the Gansu Wind Farm in China with a current capacity of 8GW and a planned total capacity of 20GW.

My final prediction is making predictions in relation to technology is very difficult so take these predictions as a loose estimate and have a wonderful technological year!

Mathew Dickerson