Western Europe is expected to lead the way in adding new connected devices to the Internet of Things (IoT), with the number of IoT devices in this market expected to increase 400 per cent by 2021 according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.
The report also predicts that the IoT will overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018. Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to increase 23 per cent annually. Of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices, the report revealed.
Ericsson's figures certainly highlight a new sense of realism about the number of devices that could be connected to the IoT over the coming years; previous forecasts from sources including Cisco have suggested that as many as 50 billion devices could be connected by 2020.
Western Europe is expected to be in the driving seat because of regulatory requirements, such as for intelligent utility meters, and growing demand for connected cars. This includes the EU e-call directive that is due to be implemented in 2018.
Rima Qureshi, senior VP and chief strategy officer at Ericsson, also noted that the expected commercial deployment of 5G networks from 2020 "will provide additional capabilities that are critical for IoT, such as network slicing."
Meanwhile, the report said smartphone subscriptions will continue to increase and are forecast to surpass those for basic phones in the third quarter of this year. By 2021, smartphone subscriptions are expected to almost double from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion. The report added that there are now 5 billion unique mobile subscribers in the world today, "which is testament to the phenomenal growth of mobile technology in a relatively short period of time."
LTE subscriptions also grew strongly during the first quarter of 2016: Ericsson said there were 150 million new subscriptions during the quarter, reaching a total of 1.2 billion worldwide. The vendor added that LTE peak data speeds of 1 Gbps are expected to be commercially available in 2016.
- see the Ericsson Mobility Report
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IoT disruption hard to pin down due to the sheer scale of the current and future market