Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Ericsson sees cellular IoT hitting 5bn connections by 2025

Steve Rogerson
December 4, 2019

Ericsson predicts that the total number of cellular IoT connections will be five billion by the end of 2025, up from 1.3 billion by end of this year. The Swedish tech giant also expects the global number of 5G subscriptions to top 2.6 billion within the next six years.
The forecasts are included in the Ericsson Mobility Report, alongside a range of other forecasts with an end-of-2025 timeline and communications service provider insights.
Average monthly data-traffic-per-smartphone is forecast to increase from the current figure of 7.2Gbyte to 24Gbyte by the end of 2025, in part driven by new consumer behaviour, such as virtual reality (VR) streaming. With 7.2Gbyte per month, one can stream 21 minutes of HD video (1280 x 720) daily, while 24Gbyte would allow streaming 30 minutes of HD video with an additional six minutes of VR each day.
The report also projects that 5G will cover up to 65 per cent of the global population by the end of 2025 and handle 45 per cent of global mobile data traffic.
This year was the year leading communications service providers in Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East and North America switched on their 5G networks. South Korea has already seen a big 5G uptake since its April 2019 launch. More than three million subscriptions were collectively recorded by the country’s service providers by the end of September 2019.
China’s launch of 5G in late October has also led to an update of the estimated 5G subscriptions for the end of 2019, from ten million to 13 million.
“It is encouraging to see that 5G now has broad support from almost all device makers,” said Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president ant Ericsson. “In 2020, 5G-compatible devices will enter the volume market, which will scale up 5G adoption. The question is no longer if, but how quickly we can convert use cases into relevant applications for consumers and enterprises. With 4G remaining a strong connectivity enabler in many parts of the world, modernising networks is also key to this technological change we’re going through.”
Given its current momentum, 5G subscription uptake is expected to be significantly faster than that of LTE. The most rapid uptake is expected in North America with 74 per cent of mobile subscriptions in the region forecast to be 5G by the end of 2025. North-east Asia is expected to follow at 56 per cent, with Europe at 55 per cent.
Other forecasts include the total number of cellular IoT connections reaching five billion by the end of 2025 up from 1.3 billion by the end of 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent. NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are estimated to account for 52 per cent of these cellular IoT connections in 2025.
Year-on-year traffic growth for the third quarter of 2019 remained high at 68 per cent, driven by the growing number of smartphone subscriptions in India, the increased monthly data traffic per smartphone in China, better device capabilities, an increase in data-intensive content, and more affordable data plans.
In a collaborative article written with SK Telecom, the report takes a detailed look at how the South Korean service provider is applying a 5G cluster deployment strategy centred around providing a premium 5G network experience and innovative services to customers in selected geographical locations.
Another article, co-authored with the MTN Group, examines how the South African-based service provider’s focus on user experience and customer loyalty has resulted in measurable network improvements and commercial gains in Rwanda and Ghana.
The report also takes an in-depth look at service providers’ tariff plans, revealing that most service providers who have launched 5G have priced 5G packages about 20 per cent higher than their nearest available 4G offering. Lastly, there is an article describing how automotive IoT meets different use case requirements of automotive and transport applications.
Ericsson now has more than 75 commercial 5G agreements or contracts with unique communications service providers, of which 23 are live networks.