Ericsson global insights reveal an almost 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic since 2011 – the year in which Ericsson Mobility Report was first published. The findings, based on current and historical network data, are included in the special ten-year edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report November 2021. The report looks back at some of the key trends and events that have shaped the last decade, as well as revealing the latest forecasts toward 2027.
660 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2021
The premise that 5G will become the fastest deployed mobile generation to date has been enhanced with an updated estimate of close to 660 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year. The increase is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, driven partly by decreasing prices of 5G devices. There was also a net addition of 98 million 5G subscriptions globally in Q3 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. At the end of 2021, it is estimated that 5G networks will cover more than two billion people.
According to the latest forecasts, 5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology, by subscriptions globally, by 2027. 5G is also expected to account for around 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide – covering 75 percent of the world’s population and carrying 62 percent of the global smartphone traffic by 2027.
Incredible impact on business
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson, says: “Mobile communication has had an incredible impact on society and business over the last ten years. When we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will be more integral than ever to how we interact, live and work. Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the pace of change is accelerating, with technology playing a crucial role.”
Since 2011, the deployment of 4G LTE networks has been pivotal in generating 5.5 billion new smartphone connections worldwide, contributing to the market availability of more than 20,000 different 4G device models. This report indicates a much earlier technology lifecycle of 5G devices, with 5G handsets today accounting for 23 percent of global volumes, compared to 8 percent of 4G handsets at the corresponding point in its lifecycle.
Growth of mobile data traffic
This is helping to fuel an exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Mobile network data traffic was up 42 percent, year-on-year, in Q3 2021 accounting for approximately 78 exabytes (EB), including traffic generated by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services. In Q3 alone, mobile data traffic was more than all mobile traffic ever generated up until the end of 2016. New forecasts reveal that total mobile network data traffic is likely to reach 370EB by the end of 2027.
The report also reveals that the nature of mobile connections is changing rapidly, contributing to the ongoing rise in mobile data traffic.
Broadband IoT has now surpassed 2G/3G as the segment that connects the largest share of IoT applications. It is expected to account for 47 percent of all cellular IoT connections by the end of 2021, compared to 37 percent for 2G/3G and 16 percent for Massive IoT technologies (NB-IoT and Cat-M).
New forecasts reaffirm the rapid acceleration of massive IoT deployments in coming years, spanning use cases such as e-health wearables, logistical asset tracking, environmental monitoring and smart meters, and smart manufacturing tracking and monitoring devices. Massive IoT deployments are forecast to account for 51 percent of all cellular IoT connections by 2027.
Fixed Wireless Access
In the same forecast period, FWA connections are forecast to grow almost threefold – from 88 million by the end of 2021, to around 230 million in 2027. Almost half of these connections are expected to be carried over 5G networks.
- 5G will represent around 39 percent of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2027, estimated at about 500 million subscriptions.
- The number of smartphone subscriptions is expected to be 810 million at the end of 2021 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7 percent, reaching over 1.2 billion by 2027.
- Smartphone subscriptions accounted for 70 percent of total mobile subscriptions in 2021 and are projected to constitute around 94 percent in 2027, driven by rapid smartphone adoption in the country.
- 4G is expected to remain the dominant technology in India in 2027, however the 4G subscriptions are forecast to drop from 790 million in 2021 to 710 million in 2027, showing an annual average decline of 2 percent. Thus, 4G subscriptions are expected to reduce from 68 percent of mobile subscriptions in 2021 to 55 percent in 2027 as subscribers migrate to 5G.
- The reliance on mobile networks to stay connected and work from home has contributed to the average traffic per smartphone increasing to 18.4GB per month in 2021, up from 16.1GB per month in 2020.
- The average traffic per smartphone in the India region is the second-highest globally and is projected to grow to around 50GB per month in 2027.
- Total mobile data traffic in India has grown from 9.4EB per month in 2020 to 12EB per month in 2021 and is projected to increase by more than 4 times to reach 49EB per month in 2027.
Nitin Bansal, Head of Ericsson India and Head of Network Solutions for South east Asia, Oceania and India, Ericsson, says ”5G will serve as a socio-economic multiplier for the country and we are preparing the communication service providers for a seamless introduction of 5G in the country based on our global deployment experience , our innovative and competitive 5G portfolio as well as the 5G trials we are doing with Indian operators to showcase the possibilities with 5G.”
Ericsson recently carried out 5G trials with Airtel and Vi where it demonstrated enhanced mobile broadband and FWA use cases with 5G. Ericsson demonstrated blazing speeds of > 4Gbps with 5G during the trial with Vi in Pune . The Company also showcased the potential of 5G to revolutionize healthcare sector by enabling remote diagnostics. The highlight of the trial with Bharti Airtel was the demonstration of over 200 Mbps throughput on 3GPP-compliant 5G FWA device at distance of over 10 Km from the site. This translated into an inter-site (between two 5G sites) coverage of approximately 20 kms, thus offering the ability to provide high-speed broadband coverage even in the remotest of geographies.
Ericsson continues to introduce innovative 5G solutions that fuel the global uptake of 5G. Ericsson’s Time-Critical Communication is a software toolbox for resolving lags and interruptions in mobile networks. Ericsson also recently announced the launch of its ultra-lightweight antenna-integrated radio AIR 3268 – its latest addition to its Massive MIMO portfolio –– for easier and efficient 5G mid-band deployments in dense urban and suburban areas. At 12 kg, AIR 3268 is the lightest and smallest Massive MIMO radio in the industry. With 200W output power, the radio weighs about 40 percent less than the earlier generation, making installations easy not only on towers and rooftops, but also on poles and walls. Ericsson’s latest radio is 10 percent more energy-efficient than the earlier generation, lowering the total added power consumption when introducing 5G on mid-band.