Ericsson President and CEO Börje Ekholm embraced the potential of 5G and talked about how it needs to also be a sustainable business during a keynote address at Mobile World Congress Shanghai on Thursday, June 28.
To meet the sustainability challenge will require billions of sensors in factories, in smart cities, on farms and in our homes, he said. In the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, predictions on cellular IoT connections were doubled to 3.5 billion in 2023, driven in large part by the development of industrial IoT in China.
”China is where the industrial IoT is happening first, at scale,” Ekholm said. ”We initially underestimated the demand for massive IoT cellular technologies such as Narrowband IoT and CAT-M1. Growth in cellular IoT will be focused on large-scale implementations. In China we will see smart cities and smart agriculture. In contrast, in North America we will probably see more logistics and fleet management.”
Ekholm also discussed how enhanced mobile broadband – driven by explosive data traffic growth – and fixed wireless access would be the first business cases for 5G.
According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, traffic will grow by eight times by the end of 2023. Or to put it in different words, data traffic will double every 18 months, reaching close to 107 exabytes per month. This is equal to every mobile subscriber worldwide streaming full HD video for 10 hours.
“Unlimited plans are increasingly launched further driving consumption of data,” he said. “In many countries, data consumption is already above 10 GB per subscriber and month. And we believe many networks will be capacity constrained by end of 2019. “
Frontrunner service providers are already racing towards 5G commercial deployments, which happen this year, Ekholm said.
There are two areas they need to focus on as they prepare for 5G.
First, they need spectrum. To avoid interference in deploying billions of devices, licensed spectrum is critical and will thus the be backbone of the connected ecosystem. The second is to focus investments on preparing for 5G and a smooth migration from 4G.
This is part of a larger focus that both service providers and governments need to have on the networks of the future, Ekholm said.
”Mobile technology is the fastest scaling technology in the world,” he said. ”A strong 5G network will drive the innovation of new business models and use cases.
”5G is happening, driven by the US and China. China is particularly compelling with its focus on the industrial IoT and the deployment of billions of cellular IoT sensors."
Read more about what Ericsson is talking about at MWC Shanghai this year.