Close to half of all US consumers will have access to 5G networks by 2023, according to Ericsson.
4G networking is now commonplace and offers better speeds than its predecessor, 3G. However, our thirst for mobile data brought on through the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, streaming services, and on-demand content is pressurizing telecommunications firms to come up with more network capacity and spectrum.
LTE is saturated, bottlenecks and data limits occur, and consumers are demanding more and more from their mobile devices.
5G standards, especially those which recycle spectrum sources from unused bands to bolster networks of today, have been touted as a way to keep up with data demand.
On Tuesday, telecoms giant Ericsson released its latest Mobility Report, which suggests that 5G networking deployments will roll out commercially in the very near future.
According to the company, the US is expected to lead 5G deployments, with all major operators in the country planning a 5G rollout between late 2018 and mid-2019.
By the end of 2023, Ericsson predicts that almost 50 percent of all US mobile subscriptions will be based on the new standard.
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North East Asia is predicted to follow this trend with 34 percent of all mobile contracts, and Western Europe will be third in line with 21 percent of subscriptions utilizing 5G technologies.
Ericsson predicts that major 5G deployments, beginning this year, will have rolled out by 2020, leading to over one billion 5G subscriptions in total for improved mobile broadband by 2023 -- accounting for approximately 12 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide.
It cannot come soon enough, it seems. The report also suggests that by this period, traffic demand will reach almost 107 exabytes per month -- the equivalent of every mobile subscriber streaming 10 hours of full HD video.
Unsurprisingly, deployments are first expected in dense, urban areas, such as major cities.
5G-only devices are predicted to hit store shelves by the end of 2018, devices which support 5G in the mid-bands are estimated to arrive in early 2019, and devices which support high-spectrum bands are predicted to appear in early to mid-2019.
Cellular IoT connections are also expected to rise in the coming years. According to Ericsson, 3.5 billion IoT cellular connections will be in use by 2023, an expectation which has doubled based on 2017 forecasts.
China's interest in large-scale IoT deployments and new technologies able to support vast networks -- including NB-IoT and Cat-M1 -- are responsible for the increased expectations when it comes to IoT deployment rates.
"2018 is the year 5G networks go commercial as well as for large-scale deployments of cellular IoT," says Fredrik Jejdling, Ericsson Head of Business Area Networks. "These technologies promise new capabilities that will impact people's lives and transform industries. This change will only come about through the combined efforts of industry players and regulators aligning on spectrum, standards, and technology."