In its latest Mobility Report, Ericsson has doubled its forecast for cellular IoT connections since its last guess in November 2017.
The networking vendor now reckons there will be 3.5 billion IoT connections by 2023, driven mainly by China. Unsurprisingly those connections are expected to be mostly of the NB-IoT variety, with a bit of Cat-M1 thrown in. Apparently over 60 cellular IoT networks have already been launched worldwide, with North America focusing on logistics, while China is more into smart cities and smart agriculture.
Moving on to 5G Ericsson notes that the first 5G commercial rollouts are expected later this year and the whole thing should ramp pretty quickly after that. North America looks set to be first but things will really pick up once China gets involved soon after. By end of 2023, almost 50% of all mobile subscriptions in North America are forecast to be for 5G, followed by North East Asia at 34%, and Western Europe at 21%.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, says: “2018 is the year 5G networks go commercial as well as for large-scale deployments of cellular IoT,” said Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and Head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. “These technologies promise new capabilities that will impact people’s lives and transform industries. This change will only come about through the combined efforts of industry players and regulators aligning on spectrum, standards and technology.”
As ever there are a bunch of other stats in the report, tracking current mobile connection levels as well as anticipating future ones. They mainly reinforce known trends such as the fact that nearly all growth is coming from Asia and that video is increasingly dominating data traffic. This chart showing the evolution of LTE-A across global networks is quite interesting.
It was just like old times at Ericsson this week as a collaboration with Verizon meant it could catch up with ex alumni and reminisce about the good old days.
The stated reason for getting together was to dabble in a spot of FDD Massive MIMO over Verizon’s network in Irvine, California. The dynamic duo used 16 transceiver radio units supplied by Ericsson to whack out beams from 96 antenna elements over 20 MHz of AWS spectrum.
But we suspect the real reason was the opportunity for a few Ericsson execs to take Verizon Head of Networks Hans Vestberg and Verizon Chief Strategy Officer Rima Qureshi out on the piss in the name of ‘client relations’. The two had previously spent decades at Ericsson and have presumably still got loads of mates there, so what better opportunity will they have to talk about old times?
In an apparent bid to reinforce the Massive MIMO cover story, the resulting press release was careful to avoid bringing attention to the underlying reunion. “While continuing to drive 5G development, the deployment of Massive MIMO offers very tangible benefits for our customers today,” said Nicola Palmer, Chief Network Officer of Verizon Wireless, who hasn’t previously worked at Ericsson. “Our collaboration with Ericsson on this new deployment continues to drive industry-wide innovation and advancements.”
“Massive MIMO is a key technology enabler for 5G, but already today, 4G LTE service providers and end users can benefit from the superior capacity and network performance this technology enables,” said Niklas Heuveldop, Head of Market Area North America at Ericsson. “The current trial is an important step in the collaboration we have with Verizon to prepare their network for 5G.”
Since Ericsson hasn’t exactly been shy about letting people go over the past couple of years, staying close to Verizon would seem to be a smart contingency move for any of its employees. Verizon seems to have decided the best way to be less dependent of kit vendors is to build its own mini-Ericsson so we would be surprised if Vestberg and Qureshi were the last to make that move.