Saturday, 04 December 2021 09:59

Mobile data traffic increased almost 300-fold over 10 years - Ericsson Mobility Report

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Ericsson global insights reveal an almost 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic since 2011, the year in which Ericsson Mobility Report was first published.

The findings, based on current and historical network data, are included in the special ten-year edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report November 2021. The report looks back at some of the key trends and events that have shaped the last decade, as well as revealing the latest forecasts toward 2027.

The premise that 5G will become the fastest deployed mobile generation to date is enhanced with an updated estimate of close to 660 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year. The increase is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, driven partly by decreasing prices of 5G devices. There was also a net addition of 98 million 5G subscriptions globally in Q3 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. At the end of 2021, it is estimated that 5G networks will cover more than two billion people.

According to the latest forecasts, 5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology by subscriptions globally by 2027. By this time, 5G is expected to account for around 50% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide – covering 75% of the world’s population and carrying 62% of the global smartphone traffic.

Ericsson executive vice president and head of networks Fredrik Jejdling says, “Mobile communication has had an incredible impact on society and business over the last ten years. When we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will be more integral than ever in how we interact, live and work. Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the pace of change is accelerating, with technology playing a crucial role.”

Since 2011, the deployment of 4G LTE networks has been pivotal in generating 5.5 billion new smartphone connections worldwide, contributing to the market availability of more than 20,000 different 4G device models. The report indicates a much earlier technology lifecycle of 5G devices, with 5G handsets today accounting for 23% of global volumes, compared to 8% of 4G handsets at the corresponding point in its lifecycle.

This is helping to fuel an exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Mobile network data traffic was up 42% year-on-year in Q3 2021 at approximately 78EB, including traffic generated by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services. In Q3, more mobile data traffic was generated than all mobile traffic ever generated up until the end of 2016. New forecasts reveal that total mobile network data traffic is likely to reach 370EB by the end of 2027, the report revels.

In South East Asia and Oceania, mobile subscriptions have exceeded 1.1 billion. 5G subscriptions are expected to reach close to 15 million at the end of 2021 and will grow strongly over the next few years, with a forecast total of about 560 million in 2027. South East Asia and Oceania will see data traffic per smartphone increasing at the fastest rate globally, reaching 46GB per month in 2027 – a CAGR of 34%. Total mobile data traffic will grow accordingly, at a CAGR of 39%, reaching 46EB per month, driven by continued growth in 4G subscriptions and 5G uptake in markets where 5G has been launched.

In the same forecast period, FWA connections are forecast to grow almost threefold – from 88 million by the end of 2021, to around 230 million in 2027. Almost half of these connections are expected to be carried over 5G networks.

The ten-year anniversary edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report includes four feature articles:

  • Building 5G infrastructure for the digital future, together with Far EasTone
  • Network build-out to boost digitalisation, together with stc
  • Time-to-content: Benchmarking network performance
  • Building sustainable networks

Ericsson have also produced some material celebrating the 10 years of the Ericsson Mobility Report here.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 1 December 2021.


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    {loadposition sam08}Joyce has been in the mobile telecommunications field for more than 25 years and headed Radio Access Technologies for Qatar's Ooredoo Group before joining Nokia.

    He was responsible for setting up the globe's first 5G commercial network at Ooredoo Qatar in May 2018 and holds a doctorate from the University of Leeds, with the topic of his research being self-organising heterogeneous networks.

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    "The first of these projects is the 5G Connected Cobots project we're doing with UTS at the recently opened Nokia 5G Future Lab at UTS Tech Park, Sydney. This project will demonstrate how we can control Collaborative Robots (Cobots) connected over the 5G network ...with the brain of the Cobot actually running on a Nokia Edge Cloud rather than on the Cobot itself.

    "The second project we're involved with is the creation of the National 5G Industrial Incubation Lab with the South Australian Government in Lot 14, Adelaide. This lab will be aimed at demonstrating the use of 5G within industry and we'll initially be looking at connected airports, connected trains and power grid inspection/control using 5G. We're now three months into both projects so it's still in the early stage as we set up the labs, but we look forward to sharing the results of these projects as they become available."

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    • The cost of implementing networks with elements from diverse customers and relying on open-sourced software as the glue may be more costly and troublesome than installing an integrated product suite from one proven vendor.
    • Maintaining and upgrading such a O-RAN heterogeneous network will require costly internal carrier resources, and hence may be costlier to maintain than current equipment.
    • The idea that such heterogeneous networks are more secure is an unproven assumption that has been challenged by a recent study in Germany.

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    "At Nokia we know we can't predict the future, but certainly being open and involved with all possibilities sets us in the best position to support our customers whatever network architecture becomes the norm in the not too distant future."

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    Mobile integrated access/backhaul (IAB) and smart repeaters: expanding capability for IAB on cars/trains to extend 5G coverage in sub-7 GHz and mmWave deployments for users inside and outside the vehicle, as well as supporting repeaters with traffic awareness and beamforming capability via side control information in TDD spectrum for deployments at high bands.

    Evolved duplexing: identifying applicable and relevant deployment scenarios and use cases on the path to full duplex operations, focusing on non-overlapping subband full duplex that can improve network efficiency, latency, and coverage in TDD deployments.

    AI/ML data-driven designs: expanding wireless ML framework to optimise network energy saving, load balancing and mobility with enhanced data collection and signalling support, as well as to examine how AI/ML techniques can enable improved support of air interface functions, such as CSI feedback, beam management, and positioning.

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    NR-Light (RedCap) evolution: expanding the NR-Light platform for reduced capability devices to further scale bandwidth possibly down to 5MHz and enhance low-power modes, while maintaining coexistence with Rel-17 NR-Light and other 5G NR devices.

    Expanded sidelink: building upon the C-V2X and Rel-17 foundation to expand into new spectrum types and bands (i.e., unlicensed and mmWave), as well as sidelink relays that can further extend 5G coverage in challenging scenarios.

    Expanded positioning: providing enhanced performance (i.e., accuracy) for positioning/ranging, including assessing techniques such as bandwidth aggregation and carrier phase measurement, as well as defining performance requirements for NR-Light positioning.

    Drones and enhanced satellites: defining drone communications with 5G NR, leveraging the LTE Rel-14 drone study, defining measurement reporting and signalling design; extending 5G NR satellite support into new bands (e.g., 10+GHz), improving coverage and mobility targeting voice support over satellite for regular smartphone form factor.

    Multicast enhancements: driving enhancements for 5G mixed-mode multicast, such as supporting multicast reception in inactive/idle mode and better system efficiency for multicast reception in RAN sharing scenarios.

    Qualcomm says there are Rel-18 projects beyond the ones that deliver additional improvements to the 5G system. This includes enhancements to dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), multi-SIM, in-device coexistence, small data transmission, quality of experience, carrier aggregation, and self-organising network/minimisation of drive test (SON/MDT).

    Nominal work for Rel-18 will start after completing Rel-17, expected in the first half of the next year. Qualcomm says it is working on some projects that will define the future of 5G.

    This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 14 December 2021.