Despite the huge number, Ericsson’s forecast of 28 billion is way below its previous prediction of 50 billion connected devices by 2020.
The study indicates that mobile data usage will grow tenfold within the next five years – almost exclusively powered by video consumption on smartphones.
This also begs the question: What kind of networks and technologies will be in place to connect this growing number of devices.
For governments and businesses, these trends constitute a critical development that will require serious deliberation and planning. For instances, countries will need to consider the development of a more robust Internet infrastructure and broadband allocation to accommodate the impending wave of Web traffic and avoid network bottlenecks. Businesses will have to prepare for emerging service demands as well as security and privacy requirements, just to name a few issues.
“We have been doing these studies for the last five years and we have been seeing this trend develop for some time,” said Patrik Cerwall, head of strategic and tactical marketing at Ericsson. “What we find interesting is the changing behavior of people towards mobile devices and Internet technology, and how we have to address them.”
Cerwall said Ericsson found that LTE usage in the United States and Canada is “growing a bit faster” that the rest of the world because of technological advances and improvements in coverage. While 4G continues to grow, he foresees the widespread commercial deployment of 5G networks in the next four years.
“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,” said Rima Qureshi, Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Ericsson.
Smartphone subscriptions continue to increase and are forecast to surpass those for basic phones in Q3 this year, according to the study.
By 2021, smartphone subscriptions will almost double from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion. Also revealed in the report, there are now 5 billion mobile subscribers – unique users – in the world today.
In 2016, a long-anticipated milestone is being passed with commercial 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.
Detailed in the report is a dramatic shift in teen viewing habits: use of cellular data for smartphone video grew 127 per cent in just 15 months (2014-15). Over a period of four years (2011-15), there has been a 50 per cent drop in the time teens spend watching TV/video on a TV screen and in contrast an 85 per cent increase in those viewing TV/video on a smartphone.
“This trend points to the fact that today’s teens are the heaviest consumers of data via smartphone video streaming,” said Cerwall. “This means that the demographic will be extremely important for mobile providers and device makers to watch.”
He said businesses should pay close attention to teenagers to determine what type of services they prefer and what kind of devices they want.
“There are a lot of business opportunities, but also numerous challenges that need to be addressed,” he said.
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