With 5G connectivity inbound and large-scale IoT deployments underway in Asia, telecoms provider Ericsson has made some bold predictions about the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) in its latest Mobility Report.
Last November, Ericsson forecast that there would be 1.8 billion cellular connected devices worldwide by 2023. This week, it has almost doubled that estimate to 3.5 billion.
The new report cites recent large-scale IoT deployments in China and the forthcoming rollout of commercial 5G networks as justification for its revised outlook.
Cellular IoT finding its feet
For companies to harness the full potential of the IoT, consistent and reliable connectivity is a must. Ericsson’s new report is backing cellular connectivity to provide those elements in a big way, stating that “NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are fuelling this growth, giving service providers opportunities to improve efficiencies and enhance customer value.”
Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report points out that mobile operators around the world have launched more than 60 cellular IoT networks using these technologies to support a broad range of applications. In North America, many of these are shaping the future of logistics and fleet management, it says, while in China, cellular connectivity is being used to push forward smart city developments and agricultural use cases.
2018 a “pivotal” year for IoT adoption
2018 is witnessing the start of major 5G connectivity rollouts and experimental programmes, with some industry observers expressing concerns about security and commercial viability. Ultimately, 5G programmes’ success will rely upon the combined efforts of regulators and industry leaders “to align on spectrum, standards, and technology,” says the report.
Following announcements from the country’s four largest mobile networks, the first commercial 5G rollout is expected to take place in the United States between late 2018 and the middle of 2019.
In the long run, 5G is expected to power numerous IoT applications. The first module-based 5G devices, capable of supporting ultra-low latency communications for IIoT use cases (such as process monitoring and control) are expected by 2020.
Ericsson forecasts over one billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by the end of 2023. That figure will account for 12 percent of all mobile subscriptions, says the company.
“2018 may seem to be just another year for an industry that has become used to high growth in numbers for smartphone subscriptions and mobile traffic,” wrote the report’s publisher, Fredrik Jejdling. “However, with the developments in 5G and IoT, I believe it will be a pivotal year for our industry.”
Patrik Cerwall, Ericsson’s head of strategic marketing, added, “We have been reporting on mobile industry development for a number of years. However, this report is probably one of the more exciting ones, because we are at the start of a big change in the industry.”