Ericsson is predicting there will be 3.5 billion IoT devices connected over cellular networks by 2023, double the number it gave in November 2017, with this growth being driven by China.
The figures come from the Ericsson Mobility Report, which is published twice yearly. Ericsson says the revised figure is the result of the rapid rollout of NB-IoT and CAT–M1 networks, of which there are now more than 60 worldwide. Of these 3.5 billion connections, Ericsson expects North East Asia to account for 2.2 billion.
Of a total of 23 billion connected IoT devices forecast by 2023, Ericsson expects wide area radio networks 4.1 billion and short-range connections (fixed and wireless) 15.7 billion.
In North America, says Ericsson, IoT applications such as logistics and fleet management are mainly supported by Cat-M1 technology, whereas in China, NB-IoT technology has been selected for nationwide deployment to support use cases such as smart city applications such as utility metering and smart agriculture.
“Large-scale deployments, and the resulting high-volume chipsets, are expected to reduce chipset prices, leading to further acceleration of the growth in cellular IoT connections,” Ericsson says.
Ericsson is tipping 2018 to be a watershed year in the evolution of cellular, saying it will see the first rollouts of 5G networks and the first large-scale deployments of cellular IoT. “5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) promise new capabilities and use cases, which are set to impact not only consumer services but also many industries embarking on their digital transformations.”
It says the digitisation of assets, equipment, vehicles and processes in a factory will produce an exponential increase in the number of connected devices. “The estimated number of connected devices needed in a typical smart factory is 0.5 per square metre … based on potential use cases and assets that would benefit from a connection.”
Ericsson says the predictions contained in its report are based on historical data from various sources, validated with “Ericsson internal data, including extensive measurements in customer networks.”
Future development is estimated “based on macroeconomic trends, user trends (researched by Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab), market maturity, technology development expectations and documents – such as industry analyst reports – on national and regional levels, together with internal assumptions and analyses.”