While Nigeria is still grappling with deploying fourth generation (4G) network for Internet subscriptions, many countries around the world have started deploying fifth generation (5G) networks with a recent study predicting 550 million 5G connections by 2022.
Nigeria is believed to have also started deployment of 5G networks before 2022, thereby qualifying it as one of the countries in Africa that will add to 5G subscriptions globally.
Already, telecoms companies in Nigeria, including Smiles Communications, Ntel, Globacom, MTN, Etisalat and Airtel are already rolling out 4G networks with plans to migrate to the next level of 5G network deployment ahead of 2022. Deployment of 5G networks will enhance Internet experience for users in terms of speed of uploads and downloads.
As such, as one of the major highlights of the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, it is also predicted that mobile broadband will account for 90 per cent of global and around 83 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa subscriptions by 2022.
According to the study, North America will lead the way in uptake of 5G subscriptions, where a quarter of all mobile subscriptions are forecast to be for 5G in the next six years.
It says Asia Pacific will be the second fastest growing region for 5G subscriptions, with 10 per cent of all subscriptions being 5G in 2022. This year, Ericsson has published five regional reports with the Global Mobility Report.
The sub-Saharan Africa Mobility Report reveals that while total mobile subscriptions penetration in the region is currently 85 per cent, this number is expected to reach 105 per cent by 2022 with over one billion mobile subscriptions.
“This makes sub-Saharan Africa, the region with highest growth rate in mobile subscriptions globally,” says the report. From 2016 to 2022, the study predicts that sub-Saharan Africa will dramatically shift from a region with a majority of GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions, to around 83 per cent of all subinvestmentscriptions on WCDMA/HSPA and Long Term Evolution (LTE).
By the end of 2016, the study said, there will be 3.9 billion smartphone subscriptions globally. It explains that almost 90 per cent of these subscriptions will be registered on WCDMA/HSPA and LTE networks.
“By 2022, the number of smartphone subscriptions is forecast to reach 6.8 billion, with over 95 per cent of the subscriptions registered on WCDMA/HSPA, LTE and 5G networks.
In Sub-Saharan Africa smartphones penetration will reach around 80 percent by 2022, while mobile subscriptions on smartphones will rise by 21 per cent annually from 2016 to 2022,” it says.
The study also highlights the role Internet of Things (IoT) plays in providing new means to deliver efficient, innovative solutions that meet socio-economic challenges and transform business models to unlock growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the report projects cellular IoT connections growing from 11 million in 2016 to 75 million connections in 2022.
The latest Ericsson Mobility Report also forecasts that in 2022, there will be 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions, of which 90 per cent will be for mobile broadband. At this point in time, there will be 6.1 billion unique subscribers.
As of the third quarter of 2016, 84 million new mobile subscriptions were added during the quarter to reach a total of 7.5 billion, growing at around 3 per cent year-on-year.
India grew the most in terms of net additions during the quarter (+15 million), followed by China (+14 million), Indonesia (+6 million), Myanmar (+4 million) and the Philippines (+4 million).
Mobile broadband subscriptions are growing by around 25 per cent year-on-year, increasing by approximately 190 million in third quarter of 2016 alone.
The total number of mobile broadband subscriptions is now around 4.1 billion. Meanwhile, mobile data traffic continues to grow, driven both by increased smartphone subscriptions and a continued increase in average data volume per subscription, fueled primarily by more viewing of video content, according to the report.
In the third quarter of 2016, data traffic grew around 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 50 per cent year-on-year. A rise in access and viewing of video content is also a driver for mobile data traffic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Other drivers are wider network coverage, continued reduction in prices of both devices and services and a growing population with 57 per cent of the current population under 15 years old. President of Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa, Jean-Claude Geha, said: “Data traffic is forecast to grow by around 55 per cent annually between 2016 and 2022, that is a 13 times growth.
“This rapid growth is driving operators to explore methods of optimising network capacity, one of which is complementing traffic via Wi-Fi networks – with traffic expected to rise 70 per cent annually between 2016 and 2022.” Further highlights from the Ericsson Mobility Report include that mobile video traffic is increasingly dominant.
According to the study, mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 50 per cent annually through 2022 to account for nearly 75 per cent of all mobile data traffic. “Social networking is the second biggest data traffic type after video, forecast to grow by 39 per cent annually over the coming six years,” the report says.