Ericsson Mobility Report estimates 5G will cover 20% of people by 2023

LTE will be the dominant mobile technology by the end of this year, but 5G is just around the corner, according to the new Ericsson Mobility Report. Here are five key takeaways from the newly released Ericsson Mobility Report:

-The mobile ecosystem continues to grow and shift toward LTE. Ericsson found that mobile subscriptions are growing at nearly 6% year-over-year and reached 7.8 billion in the third quarter of 2017. The number of subscriptions outpaces that of actual subscribers “largely due to inactive subscriptions, multiple device ownership or optimization of subscriptions for different types of call,” Ericsson said. China and Indonesia ranked at the top of net additions, followed by the U.S. and Angola. Mobile broadband subscriptions are growing even faster, at a rate of 20% year-over-year with about 5 billion total subscriptions, Ericsson found.

Ericsson forecasts that by 2023, there will be 6.2 billion unique mobile users and 9.1 billion mobile subscriptions. Those mobile subscriptions will be dominated by mobile broadband subscriptions, which will account for 8.5 billion of the total. “Mobile broadband will complement fixed broadband in some segments and will be the dominant mode of access in others,” Ericsson said. subscriptions.

In terms of technologies, Ericsson reported that during the third quarter of 2017, about 170 million LTE subscriptions were added, bringing the total to about 2.5 billion. Meanwhile, GSM-EDGE-only subscriptions were down 130 million, which WCDMA/HSPA additions accounted for about 60 million subscriptions. Ericsson expects that LTE will become the “dominant mobile access technology by the end of 2017” and will reach 5.5 billion subscriptions by the end of 2023 — at which point it will account for more than 60% of all mobile subscriptions.

There are high expectations for 5G, particularly among Millennials. Ericsson expects 5G to hit 1 billion subscriptions by the end of 2023, by which point the technology will cover more than 20% of the global population. It counts a “5G subscription” as a device that supports the 5G New Radio standard as specified by the Third Generation Partnership Project’s Release 15, connected to a 5G-enabled network.

North America is predicted to lead early 5G uptake, with 5G subscriptions forecasted to account for 37% of all mobile subscriptions by the end of 2023 — compared to just 16% of mobile subscriptions in western Europe in the same time period. Ericsson also expects to see G showcased in upcoming international sports evens in the next two years, including the Olympics, and that 5G will eventually “transform the event experience” by supporting services such as augmented and virtual reality.

Ericsson said that Millennials, more than any other age group, are likely to report that their experience of mobile broadband hasn’t met their expectations, and nearly 27% say that the next generation of wireless technology “should be many times faster than 3G/4G.”

Mobile traffic continues to grow, driven by video. In the third quarter of 2017, Ericsson said, data traffic on a global basis was up 10% quarter-over-quarter and up 65% year-over-year. Ericsson expects mobile video traffic to grow by about 50% each year through 2023, while social networking traffic is projected to grow 34% annually. Video will account for 75% of all mobile data traffic by 2023.

North America has the highest mobile data usage, with data usage expected to hit 7.1 gigabytes per month per smartphone by the end of this year and grow to 48 GH by the end of Ericsson’s forecast period. Ericsson expects total mobile data traffic to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 42%, with northeast Asia expected to stay in the lead with the largest share of global mobile data traffic.

IoT devices are forecast to reach 20 billion by 2023. Ericsson predicts that IoT device connections will increase at 19% annually between now and 2023, accounting for about 20 billion devices by 2023. Wide-area IoT is expected to see the fastest growth, Ericsson noted, compared with short-range IoT technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. IoT devices with cellular connections account number about 0.5 billion at the end of this year, Ericsson said, and will account for about 75% of wide-area IoT connections by 2023 — or about 1.8 billion connections. Right now, cellular IoT connectivity is largely achieved via GSM/GPRS entworks, but Ericsson expects that by 2023, “IoT cellular connectivity will mainly be provided by LTE and 5G” with the majority over LTE networks. 

Voice over LTE is also seeing significant growth. Ericsson said that VoLTE has been launched in more than 125 networks around the world and that VoLTE subscriptions are anticipated to reach 5.5 billion by the end of its forecast period. In addition to being implemented in smartphones, Ericsson said, “many use IoT use cases would benefit by incorporating basic voice calling functionality.” VoLTE is being enabled in internet of things devices that are Cat-M1-capable, and could be useful in enabling calls for service for IoT-enabled vending machines, or in allowing voice calls from an connected dog collar, Ericsson said.

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