By Catherine Sbeglia
The June 2020 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report proved to be somewhat unique as it included an evaluation of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the communications industry. The report concluded that the past few months have seen “a rapid shift of network traffic from business to residential areas” and “that mobile and fixed networks are increasingly playing a bigger part of critical national infrastructure.”
Despite the unexpected events of 2020, however, 5G deployment and adoption is still strong, with 190 million 5G subscriptions forecast by end of 2020, and 2.8 billion by the end of 2025, according to Ericsson. The report results actually encouraged Ericsson to increase its year-end 2020 forecast for global 5G subscriptions.
“Beyond measuring the success of 5G in subscriptions, its impact ultimately will be judged by the benefits it brings to people and enterprises,” commented EVP and head of networks at Ericsson, Fredrik Jejdling. ”5G was made for innovation and this crisis has highlighted the true value of connectivity and the role it can play in restarting economies.”
As people began working and learning from home amid lockdowns, there was an increase of information and communication (ITC) services, such as wellness, e-learning and conferencing tools. A recent study conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab revealed that 83 per cent of the respondents from 11 countries claim that ICT helped them a lot to cope with the lockdown.
One-third of respondents plan to invest in 5G and improved broadband at their homes in preparation for a potential second wave of COVID-19, suggestion that the pandemic has made the significance of connectivity a stark reality for consumers.
Another trend that the Ericsson report explore is the growth of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) connections, which, when delivered over 4G or 5G is an increasingly cost-efficient alternative for providing broadband. FWA connections are forecast to reach nearly 160 million by end of 2025 – totaling about 25 per cent of global mobile network data traffic. Global FWA data traffic was estimated to have been around 15 per cent of the global total at the end of 2019 and is now projected to grow nearly 8-fold to reach 53 exabytes in 2025.
Some factors driving the FWA market, according to the report, include demand from consumers and businesses for digital services and the increase in government-sponsored programmes and subsidies.
Ericsson has more than 93 commercial 5G agreements or contracts, of which 40 are live networks. Most recently, the vendor extended its partnership with UK.’s O2 and was selected by Bell Canada to support its nationwide 5G mobile and fixed wireless access deployment.