Smart home and IoT figure strongly in Ericsson and Cisco forecasts

Ericsson and Cisco have both recently published their visions of the future, and both have good things to say about the IoT.

Ericsson’s Mobility Report, available here, reckons there will be 1.5bn 5G subscriptions by 2024, with 5G networks reaching 40% population coverage in that time. Ericsson says 5G will achieve global scale far more quickly than earlier generations too.

The report also says that there are currently 7.9bn cellular subscriptions, 3.3bn of which are LTE (about 41.7% penetration). In 2024, Ericsson says that the 1.5bn 5G subs will be 17% of total cellular subscriptions, meaning that the global total would be 8.82bn – still less than one per person in the world, according to most projections.

Ericsson says that 5G subs will hit 55% of total mobile subscriptions in North America by 2024, with North East Asia standing at 43%, and Western Europe at 30%. The 5G networks are expected to be most mature in those markets, unsurprisingly, and Ericsson projects that 5G networks will carry 25% of total mobile traffic by 2024.

Of total mobile broadband traffic, 74% of it will be video traffic, up from today’s 60% share – growing in volume by around 35% annually, from 27 exabytes per month now to 136 exabytes per month in 2024. This means that total cellular traffic in 2024 is expected to be around 183 exabytes per month.

As it stands, Ericsson says there are 5.7bn mobile broadband subscriptions, and 7.9bn mobile subscriptions – with 120m mobile subs added in Q3 2018, 240mn mobile broadband subs added, and 200m LTE subs added. Ericsson says that smartphones account for 60% of all mobile phone subscriptions, which would put them at around 4.74bn. GSM/EDGE-only subs declined by 110m in the quarter.

Note: Ericsson has decided not to include IoT connections inside the ‘mobile subscriptions’ classifications. The 8.9bn mobile subscriptions expected in 2024 include 8.4bn mobile broadband connections (a much higher penetration than today), and 6.2bn unique mobile subscribers. Smartphones subscriptions are expected to hit 7.2bn in 2024.

Now, for the Cellular IoT numbers, concerning LTE Cat-M and Cat-NB (formerly LTE-M and NB-IoT), are listed as 4.1bn connections by 2024, up from 1bn in 2018. As such, total connections would be around 13bn. North East Asia is expected to account for 2.7bn of the 4.1bn connections, around 65.9%. Based on the numbers, Ericsson expects U-LPWAN (effectively LoRa, from what we can discern), to account for just 400mn connections in 2024 – up from 100m in 2018.

As for IoT traffic, Ericsson says that the majority of current devices are 2G, which generally generate low amounts of traffic – about 100-150 bytes per payload. Ericsson thinks that over time, IoT devices will use more data, but points to LTE Cat 4 devices as examples of those that would skew the numbers – as they have a bandwidth of 150Mbps, compared to Cat-M’s 1Mbps, or Cat-NB’s 250Kbps.

Cisco’s Visual Networking Index’s headline claim is that the connected home will be a main driver for the IoT by 2022. The total IoT install-base will grow from 6.1bn in 2017 to 14.6bn in 2022 – making up around 51% of the total number of connected devices that Cisco expects in that year, up from 34% in 2017. Cisco says that the home is the largest growing segment of the IoT/M2M sector.

That’s around 1.8 IoT devices per person. For connected devices, Cisco puts the 2022 number at 3.6 per person – up from 2.4 in 2017. For some color, the North American ration is 13.4 devices per person in 2022, while Latin America is 2.9, Western Europe is 9.4, Central and Eastern Europe is 3.9, Middle East and Africa is just 1.4, and APAC is 3.1.

As for the IP traffic, Cisco believes that by 2022, WiFi and Cellular will account for 71% of all IP traffic, with fixed line networks only handling 29%. In 2017, fixed networks handle around 48% of traffic, with WiFi on 43% and cellular on 9%.  In 2022, Cisco predicts that there will be 4.8bn unique global internet users, with video accounting for 82% of all IP traffic.

For 5G, Cisco is less optimistic than Ericsson, but the pair seem to be on roughly the same page. Cisco predicts that 3% of mobile connections will be 5G in 2022 – roughly 422mn of the 12.3bn mobile devices that it is projecting. For IoT devices, Ericsson seems only focused on ‘cellular IoT’ devices, rather than total IoT devices, and as Riot has explored previously, the projected number is entirely dependent on one’s definition of an IoT device. Sometimes the distinctions seem quite arbitrary.