Connected IoT devices set to surpass mobile connections by 2018, Ericsson

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Mobile phone subscriptions now outnumber the population of the planet, at 7.4 billion mobile subscriptions in Q1 2016, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report. However, it predicts that while mobile phones are the largest category of connected devices now, they will be surpassed by the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2018.

Mobile phones continue to be the largest category of connected devices, but in 2018 Ericsson predicts they will be surpassed by IoT, which includes connected cars, machines, utility meters, remote metering and consumer electronics. IoT devices are expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 per cent from 2015 to 2021, says the report, driven by new use cases. In total, around 28 billion connected devices are forecast by 2021, of which close to 16 billion will be related to IoT, it says.

Meanwhile, mobile broadband subscriptions grew by around 20 per cent year-on-year, increasing by approximately 140 million in Q1 2016 alone. It predicts that global mobile broadband subscriptions will reach 7.7 billion by 2021, accounting for 85 per cent of all subscriptions. Mobile broadband will complement fixed broadband in some segments, and will be the dominant mode of access in others.

The report also notes that LTE subscriptions continue to grow strongly, with 150 million new subscriptions. The total number of LTE subscriptions is now around 1.2 billion, it says. At some point in 2019, LTE will become the dominant mobile access technology, predicts Ericsson, and will reach a total of 4.3 billion subscriptions by the end of 2021.

Subscriptions/lines, subscribers (billion). Source: Ericsson Mobility Report Q1 2016

Notably, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions declined by 70 million during Q1 2016, because in developed markets, there has already been a substantial migration to more advanced technologies.

Subscriptions associated with smartphones continue to increase. During Q3 2016 the number of smartphone subscriptions will surpass those for basic phones, predicts the report. In Q1 2016 smartphones accounted for close to 80 per cent of all mobile phones sold.

There will be 150 million 5G subscriptions globally by the end of 2021, predicts the report. 5G networks based on standards that will meet ITU IMT-2020 requirements are expected to be deployed commercially in 2020, it says. In addition to enhancing mobile broadband services, 5G will enable a wide range of use cases for the IoT. In 2021, South Korea, Japan, China and the US are expected to lead the uptake of 5G subscriptions.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded here: http://www.ericsson.com/mobility-report.

About Author

Gary Eastwood

Gary Eastwood has over 15 years of experience as a technology and business journalist and editor. He has held editorship positions on customer magazines for Microsoft, CSC, and EDF, as well as on B2B magazine Mobile Enterprise. He is the former Deputy Editor of Computer Business Review. In a freelance role, Gary has contributed numerous features and articles to a broad range of publications, including New Scientist, Computer Weekly, MIS, Marketing Week, Corporate Financier, Real Business, Wireless Business Review, and driven marketing communications projects for clients, such as Intel, the Confederation of British Industry, IBM, Logicalis, the Department of Trade & Innovation, and many others. Gary has written many white papers on a range of ITC subjects for Datamonitor. He is also an editorial photographer and business videographer, and has authored and ghost-written four books on photography. He is the Co-Director of EastwoodMiddleton Publishing, which provides contract/customer magazines for a growing list of clients, and publishes the B2B magazine for business leaders, Strategist.