Ericsson Mobility Report: The future of 4G, 5G and IoT

The future of 4G, 5G and IoT

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report has just been released and this gives an insight into developments in mobile telecommunications, and most importantly, forecasts usage statistics as we continue to move towards a networked society.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) will become the largest category of connected devices, passing the number of mobile phones by 2018. IoT devices are quite literally any device connected to the internet, which isn’t a smartphone, tablet or PC.

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Examples of IoT devices includes internet connected smart energy readers for domestic homes, baby monitors, activity trackers, smart thermostats, pollution monitors, home security cams and smart street lights that reduce electricity consumption through weather and season monitoring.

IoT devices

From 2015 to 2021 a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent will be seen, bringing IoT device numbers up to 16 billion, a number that far exceeds the expected 12 billion connected mobile phones.

Mobile phones and 4G

The rate of new 4G subscriptions continues to grow with 150 million new subscriptions added globally, during the first quarter of 2016. This brings the total global number of 4G devices to 1.2 billion.

Generally, smartphone subscriptions continue to grow and are likely to surpass the number of basic phone subscriptions by the third quarter of 2016. By 2021, 90 percent of all subscriptions will be 4G.

Smartphones (8.6 billion by 2021) will continue to dominate over computers, laptops and tablets (1.8 billion by 2021). These smartphones will account for 90 percent of mobile data traffic.

Globally, monthly mobile data will increase ten fold by 2021, to a huge 52 ExaBytes per month.

Video streaming

Teens continue to drive video streaming data, which currently accounts for 43 percent of all data. In the past four years teens have increased video streaming by 85 percent and by 2021, it is expected that 70 percent of all smartphone data will be video.

Video streaming

Unsurprisingly, 85 percent of smartphone internet data happens over Wi-Fi, with just 15 percent handled by mobile phone networks through 3G or 4G. The current monthly average of this data combined in July 2014 was 1,440MB, which grew three fold to 3,570MB per month by October 2015. 


With only five percent of mobile network traffic being voice, 5G will clearly play an important role in the 2020’s. It is expected that there will be 150 million worldwide 5G subscriptions in 2021.

5G mobile phones

At the moment, the International Telecommunications Union is conducting spectrum studies for 5G. This will pave the way for a global decision on specific frequency bands in 2019, ensuring that 5G creates global harmony.


The Ericsson Mobility Report highlights the explosion of internet data usage that will take place over the next half decade. There is good news for consumers here though as it is expected that as the amount of data usage grows the cost of providing data will decrease. 

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This should mean that as consumers use more data there should not be a growth in their average monthly spend.

Written by: Michael Brown