25 Nov Ericsson Projects 5G Growth in US, IoT Growth in Asia | Light Reading
As a leading provider of equipment and services to network operators all over the world, Ericsson is uniquely positioned to measure, project and characterize mobile data traffic. Twice a year the company publishes its Mobility Report, a closely watched barometer of the mobile ecosystem. Highlights from the latest report include robust projections for 5G and cellular IoT connections, with most 5G growth expected in North America and Europe, while the greatest cellular IoT growth is expected in North East Asia.
The number of mobile subscriptions continues to exceed the number of people on the planet, according to the firm’s report, thanks to individuals who have multiple devices or multiple SIM cards. China, India and the rest of Asia continue to add mobile subscriptions faster than the rest of the world.
In North America, operators added just 385 million net mobile subscriptions in the third quarter, less than in any other region of the world. But the rate of net adds is still climbing in North America, as it is for every other region except for Latin America, the report said.
Of the world’s 8 billion mobile subscriptions, just 13 million are 5G subscriptions. LTE represents more than half of all mobile subscriptions now, and both 3G and even 2G networks handle far more mobile traffic than 5G. But Ericsson projects that by 2025, 5G will account for 2.6 billion subscriptions and generate 45% of the world’s total mobile data traffic. The company projects that roughly two thirds of the world’s population will have access to 5G six years from now.
Right now, nascent 5G networks are supporting subscribers in Asia, the US and Europe. According to Ericsson, South Korea has almost 25% of the world’s 5G subscribers (3 million out of 13 million). Ericsson predicts that China will add 5G subscribers rapidly in the year ahead.
Within the first half of 2020, Ericsson expects to see the launch of smartphones that will support 5G in almost every spectrum band currently under development for the technology, including 2.6GHz, 3.5GHz, 26GHz, 28GHz and 39GHz.
North America is the region in which Ericsson expects to see the strongest uptake of 5G over time. The company expects almost three quarters of mobile subscriptions in North America to be 5G subscriptions by 2025. That’s a much higher percentage than any other region. (Western Europe is next with a projected 55%.)
Mobile data traffic
China and India are driving the huge growth in mobile data traffic. Ericsson’s researchers found that in India, many more people are getting smartphones and in China, smartphone users are increasing their data usage significantly. Mobile data traffic excluding WiFi surged 68% between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019, and rose 12% between Q2 2019 and Q3 2019. But the rate of growth in mobile data traffic has subsided after peaking in the fourth quarter of last year. In the coming years, Ericsson expects mobile data traffic to grow less than 30% per year, and said that video traffic will continue to be the biggest driver of growth.
By 2025, 5G networks will be carrying 45% of the world’s mobile data traffic, Ericsson said. That forecast does not include traffic generated by 5G fixed wireless access points, which Ericsson said it cannot currently measure.
Internet of Things
2G and 3G still enable the majority of IoT connections, but Ericsson said that during 2019 “massive” IoT connections like NB-IoT and Cat-M1 grew an estimated 200% to almost 100 million. Ericsson sees NB-IoT and Cat-M1 as complementary rather than competitive technologies in some cases, noting that of the 114 service providers identified as having launched at least one of those technologies, close to a quarter have launched both.
Ericsson said North East Asia is leading the global adoption of cellular IoT. The region accounts for more than half of cellular IoT connections and will account for more than two thirds by 2025, the company said.
Massive IoT, broadband IoT and critical IoT are the three categories that Ericsson defines for the Internet of Things. The vendor said LTE networks can support the first two but critical IoT will require the ultra-reliable low-latency communication promised by 5G.
Martha DeGrasse, special to Light Reading. Follow her @mardegrasse