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Ericsson Mobility Report hints at cellular IoT deployments and 5G rollout ramping up

5G on a roll, cellular IoT deployments ramping up – c ommercial rollouts of 5G and larger than previously forecasted deployments of cellular IoT are the focal points in the latest edition of the Ericsson 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.


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 the end of 2023, close to 50 per cent of all mobile subscriptions in North America are forecast to be for 5G, followed by North East Asia at 34 per cent, and Western Europe at 21 per cent. 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 per cent 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 per cent 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.


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


The total mobile data traffic per month in India is expected to grow five 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 per cent of the total subscriptions in the country by 2023 compared to the 20 per cent 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 per cent.”


India also saw the second-highest number of net 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.


The Ericsson Mobility Report also features articles on network performance through the eyes of customers, smart manufacturing, machine intelligence in network management, and the importance of securing the right spectrum for 5G.

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