Commercial rollouts of 5G and larger than previously forecasted deployments of cellular IoT are focal points in the latest edition of the Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) Mobility Report. The forecast for cellular IoT connections has nearly doubled since November 2017. It is now expected to reach an estimated 3.5 billion in 2023, driven by ongoing large-scale deployments in China. New massive IoT cellular technologies such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are fuelling this growth, giving service providers opportunities to improve efficiencies and enhance customer value.
Mobile operators have launched more than 60 cellular IoT networks worldwide using these technologies over the same underlying LTE network to support a diverse range of use cases. In North America, these cases are centred on logistics and fleet management while in China it is smart cities and smart agriculture.
First commercial launches of 5G this year
North America is expected to lead the 5G uptake, with all major U.S. operators planning to roll out 5G between late 2018 and mid-2019. By end of 2023, close to 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions in North America are forecast to be for 5G, followed by North East Asia at 34 percent, and Western Europe at 21 percent. Globally, major 5G deployments are expected from 2020. Ericsson forecasts over 1 billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by the end of 2023, accounting for around 12 percent of all mobile subscriptions.
Mobile data traffic is estimated to surge by eight times during the forecast period to reach close to 107 exabytes (EB) per month – a figure that is equal to every mobile subscriber worldwide streaming full HD video for 10 hours. By 2023, more than 20 percent of mobile data traffic worldwide is expected to be carried by 5G networks. This is 1.5 times more than the total 4G/3G/2G traffic today.
Like previous mobile access technologies, 5G is expected to be deployed first in dense urban areas with enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access as the first commercial use cases. Other use cases will come from industries such as automotive, manufacturing, utilities, and healthcare.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, says: “2018 is the year 5G networks go commercial as well as for large-scale deployments of cellular IoT. These technologies promise new capabilities that will impact people’s lives and transform industries. This change will only come about through the combined efforts of industry players and regulators aligning on spectrum, standards and technology.”
First-generation, 5G data-only devices are expected from the second half of 2018. The first commercial smartphones supporting 5G in the mid-bands are expected early next year, while support for very high spectrum bands is expected in early to mid-2019.
A look at the India Market – Mobile data traffic in India to grow 5 times by 2023
The total mobile data traffic per month in India is expected to grow 5 times during the forecast period from 1.9 EB to 10 EB by 2023. The report estimates that the monthly data usage per smartphone (GB/month) in India will increase from 5.7 GB in 2017 to 13.7 GB by 2023. The total smartphone subscriptions in the country will grow 2.5 times to cross 975 million by 2023.
“We expect LTE to be the most dominant technology in India by 2023” says Nitin Bansal, Head of Network Solutions for the Market Area Southeast Asia, Oceania and India for Ericsson.” LTE will account for more than 78 percent of the total subscriptions in the country by 2023 compared to the 20 percent LTE subscriptions in 2017. We also see IoT picking up in a big way with cellular IoT connections in India to reach 72 million by 2023 growing at a CAGR of 25 percent.”
India also saw the second highest number of new mobile subscription additions by country in Q1, 2018, with the addition of 16 million mobile subscriptions. The first quarter of 2018 saw the addition of 98 million new subscriptions, with China(+16 million) , India , Indonesia (+6 million), Nigeria(+3 million) and Bangladesh (+2 million)leading the pack.
The report forecasts that India will have 780 million VoLTE subscriptions by 2023.