Ericsson predicts 1 billion 5G subscriptions in 2023

Created December 4, 2017
News and Business

5G will cover more than 20% of world population in 6 years, according to new Ericsson Mobility report.

Communications giant Ericsson forecasts that there will be 1 billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by 2023. This prediction is among the key statistics presented in the November edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, released at the end of November.

Expected to be deployed first in dense urban areas, 5G will cover 20% of the world’s population by the end of 2023. The first commercial networks based on 5G New Radio are expected to go live in 2019, with major deployments from 2020. Early 5G deployments are foreseen in several markets, including the US, South Korea, Japan and China.

Global mobile data traffic to surpass 100 Exabytes per month
Mobile data traffic is expected to surge by eight times during the forecast period, reaching 110 Exabytes per month by 2023. This corresponds to 5.5 million years of HD video streaming. All regions will maintain mobile data traffic growth, with North America showing the highest average usage per smartphone, exceeding 7GB per month by the end of 2017.

Video traffic growth
Video consumption continues to fuel mobile broadband traffic growth. The driving force behind video’s uptrend are the young millennials – those in the 15 to 24 age bracket – who stream 2.5 times more than those over 45 years of age.

Streaming video in higher resolutions and an emerging trend of increased streaming of immersive video formats, such as 360-degree video, will have an impact on data traffic consumption volumes. For example, a YouTube 360-degree video uses 4 to 5 times as much bandwidth as a normal YouTube video of the same perceived quality.

LTE deployments on the up
By the end of 2017, says Ericsson, LTE will be the dominant mobile access technology. It is estimated to reach 5.5 billion subscriptions and cover more than 85 percent of the world’s population by the end of 2023.

Voice over LTE has been launched in more than 125 networks in over 60 countries across all regions. VoLTE subscriptions are projected to reach 5.5 billion by the end of 2023, accounting for more than 80% of the combined LTE and 5G subscriptions.

Smartwatches are one of the latest devices to use VoLTE. Users are able to make voice calls directly on their smartwatch, without having a smartphone nearby (multi-SIM). Calls can also be transferred between a user’s smartphone and watch.

Niklas Heuveldop, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Technology and Emerging Business, Ericsson, commented, “The report highlights trends in mobile subscription and data traffic growth, as well as the industry’s effort to tackle the increasing demands on mobile networks globally. In addition, it examines the emergence of new use cases as network capabilities evolve – smartwatches, IoT alarms, and augmented reality-assisted maintenance and repair, to name a few. As we prepare for 5G, these trends will continue to set the agenda for the mobile industry going forward.”

Current trends:
• Shifting mobile data plans examines the move to ever larger plans as well as the actual data consumption within different plans. It highlights the importance of a good mix of data plans, including unlimited, to address a variety of consumer needs.
• Enhancing the event experience focuses on how event organizers and operators can meet visitors’ needs for more digitalized services and immersive experiences.
• Millennials’ expectations for 5G explores how this age group perceives their mobile experience, their hopes on 5G, and what their viewpoints imply for operators.

The Ericsson report can be seen here.

Matthew Peach

This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.