Ericsson report forecasts NB-IoT and Cat-M wireless IoT devices to surpass 2G/3G by 2023

Ericsson report forecasts NB-IoT and Cat-M wireless IoT devices to surpass 2G/3G by 2023

The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report predicts that 5G subscriptions will reach 1 billion by the end of 2022. Those forecasted numbers are big but slightly lower than those from research firm Omdia, which is forecasting 1.3 billion subscribers by year’s end. Ericsson’s interest in predicting 5G growth is unsurprising, but the report also offers insights into the growth of other wireless networking technologies that are relevant to the edge computing ecosystem.

According to Ericsson’s forecast, the number of IoT-connected devices using NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies will overtake 2G/3G connected IoT devices in 2023. Called “Massive IoT” technologies, NB-IoT and Cat-M supported IoT devices have low complexity, low cost and long battery life with low throughput, an ideal combination to be deployed in the many IoT use cases. The report predicts that the NB-IoT and Cat-M powered IoT devices will make up 51 percent of all cellular IoT connections by 2027.

The utility of non-5G wireless technologies can be understood with an example Ericsson provided from marine navigation. A Finland-based provider of advanced tracking and sensor solutions developed a tracker using NB-IoT technology. The company deployed these sensors in over 20,000 navigation marks in the Finnish archipelago. The ability to operate with long battery life and extended coverage enables developers to adopt NB-IoT connectivity for offshore navigation, according to Ericsson.

Large numbers of wireless connections and IoT devices could bode well for edge computing hardware and software providers as edge analytics and AI applications are deployed to take advantage of connected IoT device growth.

Meanwhile, developments in 5G standalone networks suggest enterprises consider business opportunities beyond mobile broadband.

The necessity to move from using the existing 4G LTE network core to deliver 5G service to using a new 5G network core means service providers will finally be deploying standalone 5G networks. Standalone 5G networks enable network slicing to allow the development of independent virtualized networks on the same physical hardware.

According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association executive summary on 5G standalone in January 2022, more than 20 service providers have launched public 5G standalone networks on the mid and low bands by the end of 2021. This is expected to double in the year 2023 as more service providers aim to deploy 5G New Radio standalone and 5G core networks.

The introduction of standalone 5G networks accelerates IoT use cases in enterprise digitization, industrial automation and critical IoT. Some features of standalone 5G networks are automated end-to-end network slicing, enhanced quality of service, integrated security, and greater flexibility.

The integrated security in 5G networks helps enterprises to deploy and manage the evolving and complex connectivity landscape for demand use cases. Still, there have been threats to 5G networks. The sense of urgency to safeguard these 5G networks has become an integral part of business-sensitive information and security and privacy laws. A report published by CrowdStrike shows that between July 2020 and June 2021, the telecom industry was most targeted with 40 percent of attacks compared to 10 percent for the next highest industry vertical.

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