By Emma Okonji
The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report has revealed that the Internet of Things (IoT) will overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018.
According to the 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 would be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices.
Western Europe, according to the report, 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, for example for intelligent utility meters, and a growing demand for connected cars including the EU e-call directive to be implemented in 2018, the report said.
Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Ericsson, Rima Qureshi, said: “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 Q3 this year. By 2021, smartphone subscriptions will almost double from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion.
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, US, South Korea and China, but rapidly spreading to other regions. Mobile users will enjoy extremely fast time to content thanks to this enhanced technology, which will enable up to two thirds faster download speeds compared with the fastest technology available today, the report said.
Further highlights from the Ericsson Mobility Report include: A global growth story on mobile broadband subscriptions that is projected to grow fourfold in the Middle East and Africa between 2015 and 2021; mobile data traffic in India will grow fifteen times by 2021; and despite being the most mature market, US mobile traffic will grow 50 per cent in 2016 alone, the report said.
It added that data traffic would continue to grow unabated, and that global mobile data traffic grew 60 per cent between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, due to rising numbers of smartphone subscriptions and increasing data consumption per subscriber. The report said by the end of 2021, around 90 per cent of mobile data traffic will be from smartphones.
In the area of streaming, the report said teenage use of cellular data for smartphone video grew 127 per cent in just 15 months. This, and the fact that teens are the heaviest users of data for smartphone video streaming (Wi-Fi and cellular combined), makes them the most important group for cellular operators to monitor.
The Ericsson Mobility Report is one of the leading analyses of mobile data traffic available, providing in-depth measurements from live networks spread around the globe. The report uses these measurements and analysis, together with internal forecasts and other relevant studies, to provide insights into current traffic and market trends in the networked society.