Tuesday, 13 June 2017 22:22

LTE driving mobile broadband explosion: Ericsson Featured

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More than one million new mobile broadband subscribers are being added to networks around the world every day, with an estimated 2.6 billion subscribers expected to be signed up through to 2022.

That’s the explosive growth predicted by global communications and networking giant Ericsson in its 2017 annual mobility report released on Tuesday.

Ericsson also says the dominant access technology globally for mobile users by 2018 will be LTE (also known as 4G), making it the fastest-growing mobile technology in history.

As the world, including Australia and the Asia Pacific/Oceania region, experiences continue rapid growth of mobile connectivity, that growth is driven by an explosion in data traffic, with traffic expected to increase to eight times its current level by 2022.

This latest report from Ericsson reveals that total traffic in mobile networks globally grew 70% between the end of Q1 2016 and the end of Q1 2017.  

In Australia, Ericsson reports that there were around 30 million mobile phone subscriptions at the end of 2016, and about 130% penetration of mobile phone subscriptions in the Australian market at the end of 2016.

And, at the close of 2016, Australia had around 60% LTE subscription over total mobile subscriptions and around 40% for 3G – with Ericsson predicting in 2022 there would be around 90% LTE subscriptions over total mobile subscriptions and around 10% for 3G subscriptions.

The mobility picture in Australia is mirrored in the smaller New Zealand market, where there were around six million mobile phone subscriptions at the end of 2016, Ericsson reports, with around 13% penetration of mobile phone subscriptions at the end of 2016.

LTE subscriptions in New Zealand at the end of 2016 were more than 40% over total mobile subscriptions and about 55% for 3G.  

And, Ericsson predicts that in 2022 there will be around 80% LTE subscriptions in New Zealand over total mobile subscriptions and around 15% for 3G subscriptions over total mobile subscriptions.

Ericsson’s report also shows that only 13% of the top 100 apps Australians actively use monthly on smartphones (Android) are created locally or from the region.

“This reveals there is an opportunity to stimulate uptake for usage of local apps,” the report notes.

“The Ericsson Mobility report shows that globally LTE will become the dominant technology by 2018. This is important, not only because of voice and other advanced services that operators can deploy, but also because LTE- Advanced networks will form the platform for rapid rollout of 5G,” says Emilio Romeo, head of Ericsson Australia & New Zealand.

“In Australia, LTE subscriptions are currently 60% of all mobile subscriptions with a predicted rise to 90% in 2022.  Which will bring with it improved user experience, faster network access and growing app ecosystem.”

Ericsson analysis from App Annie data in February this year shows that the top types of local/regional apps Australians are using are finance, weather, access to mobile services providers, real estate, travel, and video streaming.

Also shown by the report is that time to content — the time from when a user requests on-line content until it is displayed on the smartphone — is a key metric for app coverage for mobile broadband subscribers.

Ericsson says that in a mature market consumers typically expect time to content of four seconds or less, and it notes that for a time-to-content target of three seconds a user would need a minimum download speed of 5Mbps.

“Ericsson analysis of Ookla speed test intelligence shows the likelihood of meeting certain time-to content targets.  In Australia, there is a high probability (88%) of meeting minimum speeds to meet a time to content target of 3 seconds DL 5Mbps.”

Globally the latest Ericsson mobility report shows the highest year-on-year mobile data since 2013, led by massive growth in India – “highlighting the underlying need for mobile data”.

The use of smartphones and easy access to mobile Internet services comprise a major part of the traffic numbers, and according to Ericsson’s report, by the end of 2022, total global smartphone mobile data traffic would have increased nine times, reaching 66 Exabytes per month.

In 2018, Ericsson forecasts that LTE (4G) will overtake GSM as the largest access technology by number of subscriptions and says that the speed with which this technology has been rolled out and adopted is unprecedented.

In fact, Ericsson notes that it has taken only five years for LTE to cover 2.5 billion people, compared to eight years for WCDMA/HSPA, or 3G, and in the first quarter of this year alone, 250 million new LTE subscriptions were added.

The report says that while LTE uptake is driven by demand for improved user experience and faster networks, 5G deployment will also be driven by the need for “enhanced mobile broadband capabilities as well as industry solutions for efficiency and automation”.

Ericsson says that 5G will be the one network to support a diversity of use cases and that more than half a billion 5G subscriptions are expected to be activated by 2022, not including IoT connections. At that point, Ericsson says 5G is then expected to cover around 15% of the world's population.

It expects around 10% of all Asia Pacific mobile subscriptions will be 5G by 2022 – further advanced than European countries in the same timeframe.

Ericsson forecasts that 5G subscriptions in the South East Asia and Oceania region will be 28 million in 2022 and says it expects this to accelerate with deployment of innovative use cases.

“5G will enhance many existing use cases and will be the basis for a wide range of new use cases with IoT,” the report says.

But Ericsson predicts that the North American market will be the fastest to adopt 5G, with 25% of all mobile subscriptions on 5G by 2022 – compared to 10% in Asia Pacific in 2022.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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