The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018, according to the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.
Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to grow 23 per cent annually, of which cellular IoT is forecast to have the highest growth rate. Of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, nearly 16 bn will be IoT devices.
Western Europe will lead the way in adding IoT connections. The number of IoT devices in this market is projected to grow 400 per cent by 2021. This will principally be driven by regulatory requirements. The report said mobile data traffic in India would grow 15 times by 2021. India expanded the most in terms of net addition during the first quarter of 2016 (calendar year), adding 21 million, followed by Myanmar (5 mn) and Indonesia (5 mn).
For example, for intelligent utility meters, and a growing demand for connected cars including the European Union’s e-call directive to be implemented in 2018. E-call is an automatic emergency call system for motor vehicles.
Rima Qureshi, senior vice-president and chief strategy officer, Ericsson, says: “IoT is now accelerating as device costs fall and innovative applications emerge. From 2020, commercial deployment of 5G networks will provide additional capabilities that are critical for IoT, such as network slicing and the capacity to connect exponentially more devices than is possible today.”
Smartphone subscriptions continue to increase and are forecast to surpass those for basic phones in the third quarter of 2016. By 2021, smartphone subscriptions will double from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion. According to the report, there are now five billion mobile subscribers – unique users – in the world today, which is testament to the phenomenal growth of mobile technology in a relatively short period of time.
The report also highlights the dramatic shift in teen viewing habits: use of cellular data for smartphone video grew 127 per cent in just 15 months (2014-15). Over a period of four years (2011-15), there has been a 50 per cent drop in the time teens spend watching TV/video on a TV screen, and, in contrast, an 85 per cent increase in those viewing TV/video on a smartphone. This, along with the fact that the upcoming generation of mobile users is the heaviest consumers of data for smartphone video streaming (Wi-Fi and cellular combined), makes them the most important group for cellular operators to monitor.
In 2016, a long anticipated milestone is being passed with commercial long-term evolution (LTE) networks supporting downlink peak data speeds of 1 Gbps. Devices that support 1 Gbps are expected in the second half of 2016 - initially in markets such as Japan, the US, South Korea and China, but rapidly spreading to other regions as well. Mobile users will enjoy extremely fast connectivity thanks to this enhanced technology, which will enable up to two-thirds faster download speeds compared with the fastest technology available today.
<b>Highlights of Ericsson Mobility Report</b>
A global growth story: Mobile broadband subscriptions will grow four-fold in the Middle East and Africa region between 2015 and 2021; mobile data traffic in India will grow 15 times by 2021; and despite being the most mature market, US mobile traffic will grow 50 per cent in 2016 alone.
Data traffic continues unabated growth: Global mobile data traffic grew 60 per cent between the first quarter (Q1) of 2015 and Q1 of 2016, due to the rising numbers of smartphone subscriptions and increasing data consumption per subscriber. By the end of 2021, around 90 per cent of mobile data traffic will be from smartphones.
LTE subscriptions grew at high rate during Q1 of 2016: There were 150 million new subscriptions during the quarter, driven by the demand for improved user experience and faster networks – reaching a total of 1.2 billion worldwide. LTE’s peak data speeds of 1 Gbps are anticipated to be commercially available in 2016.
Additional spectrum harmonisation needed between countries planning early 5G deployment: 5G is expected to start more quickly than anticipated, and spectrum harmonisation is needed between countries planning early roll-outs.