The Ericsson Mobility Report for June 2018 has predicted the rollout of the first 5G network as well as large-scale deployments of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) by the end of the year.
Attaining this milestone would require the combined effort of industry players and the telecommunications sector regulators to align on spectrum, standards and technology.
According to the report, cellular IoT, which involves connecting people and things with the aid of smart devices, was growing faster and had informed future predictions of the changes likely to take place in the industry.
“By 2023, around 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections would be recorded,” the report suggested.
It said the growth was set to impact industries and businesses across many different markets.
“A lot are already happening, and in this edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, we take a closer look at the trends that will drive the mobile industry over the next five years,” it added.
The report indicated that 5G would kick-off with enhanced mobile broadband as its first use case.
It however predicted that by the end of 2023, there would be one billion 5G subscriptions, accounting for around 20 per cent of mobile data traffic.
“The massive ramp-up of 5G subscriptions is expected to be fueled by third-generation chipsets, which will be available from 2020 on a variety of frequency bands.
Securing the right spectrum for 5G in low, mid and high bands, according to the report would be important in the near-term future.
“Global spectrum harmonization across countries will be the key to securing broad adoption and economies of scale for 5G,” it added.
In the meantime, it said, upgrading the current 4G networks with the latest technology to cater for increasing traffic volumes and enhanced customer experience would be on most service providers’ agendas.
“2018 may seem to be just another year for an industry that has become used to high growth in numbers for smartphone subscriptions and mobile traffic. However, with the developments in 5G and IoT, this year will be a pivotal year for the mobile industry,” it mentioned.
With 5G able to provide significantly more capacity than 4G, the report added that operators would be able to offer new differentiated services such as providing broadband access and data-only connections to new customer segments.
These types of connections, according to the report would leverage on the use of fixed wireless broadb and customer provided equipment and pocket routers which tend to be more stationary than traditional mobile broadband.
Such devices can serve many users at once and can be directly connected to power outlets or larger batteries, it added.
“This makes fixed wireless and 5G data-only devices a prime category for early 5G entry in the second half of the year,” it explained.
The report indicated that the possibility to use multiple spectrum bands posed new challenges for the device ecosystem due to the continual use of low MHz as against very high GHz frequencies in the same smartphone, especially, with LTE and 5G applied at the same time.
It added that more efficient technologies, components and processes were required to curb these challenges.
It however revealed that the first commercial smartphones to be able to support 5G in the mid-bands were expected in early 2019, while support for very high spectrum bands was projected to be actualized in early or mid-2019.
New cellular network technologies, it said, have a low initial penetration of compatible devices which 5G would be no exception.
“Penetration will accelerate over chipset and device generations, as declining costs and prices increase volumes sold. By 2023, 1 billion 5G devices for enhanced mobile broadband are expected to be connected worldwide,” it revealed.
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