What technology will look like in 2030: Welcome to the ‘metaverse’ 2.0

By Ernst Fonternel, MTN SA’s Chief Digital Officer


The merging of the physical and virtual worlds — known colloquially as the “metaverse” — will have all but taken over by 2030, with many ‘advances’ we see today a thing of the past. As much as technology will look different and be far more immersive, however, one thing that will not change will be the desire for faster networks and better service at the touch of a button, or flash of whatever wearable virtual device or chip is on trend by then.

All applications in this future advanced world will need to incorporate virtual reality and augmented reality, with Meta already leading the charge in this direction in the hope of controlling access through innovations like headphones and glasses.

The 5G we talk about today will likely be 6G in the near future and be even more advanced by the end of the decade, providing both opportunities and challenges for mobile operators. We will need to accommodate a move to mass adoption of the Cloud and 360 degree digital landscape, and this will require constant capacity and network development. That’s why operators will need to invest to deliver world-class, immersive digital experiences across devices and platforms.

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A clear benefit will be boosting financial and digital inclusion — opening the door to immense benefits, from economic to entertainment and lifestyle. But we’re still a long way off that point.

At the moment, a major concern is that despite recent advances and investments, both coverage and usage gaps are wide. The GSMA’s Mobile Economy Report 2022 says that around 450 million people globally still live in areas without access to internet services. Meanwhile, the usage gap remains unchanged and is even expanding in some markets. Nearly 3.4 billion people are not using mobile internet despite living in areas with mobile broadband coverage

But we are quickly moving in the right direction, especially at MTN, where we fight daily to open a new world of digital opportunity for all. By 2030 I  believe the majority of customers will prefer self-service, and it will be imperative that all operators deliver consistently exceptional and innovative customer experiences across the channels.

By building enhanced digital platforms we can build the ideal customer experience process once and then expose this for the benefit of all other customers. Any enhancements and tweaks made to these platforms then benefit all customers without the need to retrain staff, with the benefits available immediately.

The economic benefits of all of this will be profound, driven mostly by continued expansion of the mobile ecosystem. The global economic contribution of mobile will increase by more than $400-billion by 2025, according to the GSMA. Expect this to increase even further by 2030.

For an emerging market like South Africa, the impact will be wide-ranging, filtering into remote corners of the country at much faster speeds than major cities have today. The ability to drive digital and financial inclusion is immense and it will be a game-changer for many emerging market economies.


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According to the GSMAI s State of the Industry Report, 2020 saw higher levels of mobile money activity and increased use of more advanced ecosystem services, suggesting that more and more people are reaping the benefits of digital financial inclusion. With 5.2 billion mobile users worldwide, the mobile industry has the reach and innovation it will take to deepen financial inclusion and build more equitable societies by 2030.

There is little doubt that digital providers not able to deliver across the Cloud, e-commerce, fintech, and in the augmented reality universe will be left behind.

What will really be key, however, will be for regulations to keep pace with these changes. This will require ongoing engagement between government and private sector, and more speed in delivery of the rules of the game. COVID-19, which saw numerous successful initiatives between the public and private sectors take root, was a catalyst of change in this relationship and it will be imperative this continues over the next, ever-changing and sophisticated decade.

MTN SA’s early adoption of platform and digital solutions — while still being a leader in voice and data in the country — sets the company on course to be a key enabler of growth for the South African economy while playing a leading role in helping address social challenges in the new, exciting world of opportunity now on our doorstep.

Ernst Fonternel is the Chief Digital Officer at MTN South Africa. He is responsible for MTN’s digital services such as MTN Play, content services, WASPS and online marketing. 

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