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Ericsson Mobility Report Highlights

5G Projections Increased

November 26, 2019

Ericsson just released their Mobility Report and here are some highlights. Taking information directly from the report, more than 50 service providers around the world have launched commercial 5G services. All of the South Korean service providers launched commercial 5G services at the beginning of April (GSA reported 1.5 million users in Korean). The initial focus for all three has been enhanced mobile broadband targeted at consumers, with immersive experiences based on virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and high-quality streaming.

On a global level, 5G network deployments are expected to ramp up during 2020, building the foundation for massive adoption of 5G subscriptions. Over the next six years, 5G subscription uptake is expected to be significantly faster than that of LTE, following its launch back in 2009. Key factors are the earlier engagement of China in 5G compared to LTE, for which the country was not one of the early markets to launch, as well as the earlier availability of devices.

With the continued momentum for 5G, Ericsson predicts 13 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year. A big share of these subscriptions is expected to be in China. All three of the main service providers launched commercial 5G services in Q4 2019. Sign-up of customers started even before launch, with more than 10 million 5G users registered in October 2019. In 2025, Ericsson forecasts 2.6 billion 5G subscriptions globally, accounting for 29 percent of all mobile subscriptions at that time.

Ericsson Fig 1

LTE will remain the dominant mobile access technology by subscription during the forecast period. It is projected to peak in 2022 at 5.4 billion subscriptions and decline to around 4.8 billion subscriptions by the end of 2025 as LTE subscriptions migrate to 5G. Ericsson anticipates a slower decline for 2G (GSM/EDGE-only) subscriptions than previously estimated, particularly in the Middle East and Africa region. In part, this is due to the longer life cycles of 2G feature phones and the relatively higher cost of smartphones.

5G Device Outlook

Interoperability testing of second-generation silicon is now underway in laboratories. With this generation, vendors are working to surpass first-generation launches with more integrated designs, reduced power consumption, and more frequencies and network operation modes. There has been considerable talk about cellular access cutting the cables for Industry 4.0. Commercial grade 5G modules for industrial use cases are expected with the launch of second-generation chipsets.

In 2020, Ericsson expects growth in the number of fixed wireless devices, with many vendors and models enabling 5G-connected households. Entering the volume market Annual shipments of 5G devices are projected to reach 13 million units by the end of 2019. 5G has outpaced LTE in the number of devices launched during its initial roll-out period. However, 2020 will be a different numbers game. 5G device volumes in 2020 are projected to reach 160 million units, with China expected to massively deploy 5G coverage. In addition, all major vendors will have released a 5G-capable device and a number of vendors are expected to have addressed mid-tier smartphone segments. SA/NSA/FDD/TDD all in play and co-existing

In 2020, a typical 5G smartphone will be a very smart device. As many 5G networks are being launched using 5G non-standalone (NSA), this mode will be supported on most new devices along with 5G standalone (SA) mode. In both modes, phones will support:

  • 5G carrier aggregation
  • spectrum sharing
  • low-band FDD and mmWave

frequencies (as well as mid-band) In short, 5G is expected to gain scale in 2020, enabled by coverage roll-out and availability of devices. Unlike previous cellular radio access technologies, it appears 5G will not be constrained by a lack of user equipment.

Ericsson Fig 2

Mobile Traffic

Global total mobile data traffic is expected to reach around 38 exabytes per month by the end of the year and is projected to grow by a factor of 4 to reach 160 exabytes per month in 2025. It represents the mobile data that over 6 billion people will consume using smartphones, laptops and a multitude of new devices 6 years from now. Smartphones continue to be at the epicenter of this development as they generate most of the mobile data traffic – more than 90 percent today and 95 percent projected in 2025. Populous markets that are early with 5G are likely to lead traffic growth over the forecast period. By 2025, we expect that 45 percent of total mobile data traffic will be carried by 5G networks.

Ericsson Fig 3

IoT Outlook

The Massive IoT technologies NB-IoT and Cat-M1 continue to be rolled out around the world. 2G and 3G connectivity still enable the majority of IoT applications, but during 2019 the number of Massive IoT connections are estimated to have increased by a factor of 3, reaching close to 100 million at the end of the year. Massive IoT primarily consists of wide-area use cases, connecting massive numbers of low-complexity, low-cost devices with long battery life and relatively low throughput. NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies complement each other, and many service providers are deploying both technologies. Out of the 114 service providers identified as having launched at least one of the NB-IoT or LTE-M technologies, close to 25 percent have launched both technologies.

At the end of 2025, NB-IoT and Cat-M are projected to account for 52 percent of all cellular IoT connections. Broadband IoT mainly includes wide area use cases that require higher throughput, lower latency and larger data volumes than Massive IoT technologies can support. LTE is already supporting many use cases in this segment. By the end of 2025, 28 percent of cellular IoT connections will be broadband IoT, with 4G connecting the majority. Critical IoT includes both wide-area and local-area use cases that have requirements for extremely low latency and ultra-high reliability. The first modules supporting Critical IoT use cases are expected to be deployed in 2020. Only a small fraction of total cellular IoT connections will be Critical IoT in 2025. North East Asia is leading the global adoption of cellular IoT. At the end of 2019, it is estimated that the region will account for 60 percent of all cellular IoT connections, a figure set to increase to 68 percent in 2025. This reflects both the ambition and size of the cellular IoT market in this region.

Ericsson Fig 4