One bn 5G subscriptions and 3.5 bn Cellular IoT connections by 2023

North America and North East Asia will lead 5G subscriptions whereas cellular IoT connections will be driven by North East Asia says Ericsson Mobility Report 2018

Globally, major 5G deployments are expected from 2020 and 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.

On the 5G front, 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. Other markets where significant 5G subscription volumes are expected early include South Korea, Japan and China. Globally, major 5G network deployments are expected from 2020.

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

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. From 2020, when third-generation chipsets will be introduced, large numbers of 5G devices are expected. 5G is also expected to empower use cases across industries. The first module-based 5G devices, supporting ultra-low latency communications for industrial process monitoring and control are expected during 2020.

By 2023, more than 20 percent of mobile data traffic worldwide is expected to be carried by 5G networks.

Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 45 percent annually through 2023 to account for 73 percent of all mobile data traffic. Traffic from social networking is also expected to rise – increasing by 31 percent annually over the next 6 years. However, its relative share of traffic will decline from 12 percent in 2017 to around 8 percent in 2023, because of the stronger growth of video.

Cellular IoT connections are gaining importance thanks to NB-IoT and Cat-M1 thereby giving service providers opportunities to improve efficiencies and enhance customer value. The connections are expected to reach an estimated 3.5 billion in 2023, driven by ongoing large-scale deployments in China.

Of the 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections forecast for 2023, North East Asia is anticipated to account for 2.2 billion.

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.”

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 centered on logistics and fleet management while in China it is smart cities and smart agriculture.


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