The Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile devices and data terminals, coupled with the emerging 5G with its very high transmission rates, is expected to account for around 76 per cent of the total subscriptions in the country by 2023 compared to 36 per cent LTE subscriptions in 2017.
Plans are being made to roll out 5G in Thailand between 2020 and 2022 and offering significant business potential for operators, said Nadine Allen, president and country manager of Ericsson Thailand.
“Specifically for Thailand, we forecast that operators can add service revenues of up to US$2.6 billion [Bt85 billion] or a 22 per cent increase in incremental revenues above forecast revenues by 2026. The largest opportunity for operator-addressable 5G-related revenues will be in sectors like manufacturing, energy and utilities, and public safety,” said Allen.
The Swedish multinational telecom company Ericsson is one of the leaders in pushing for adoption of 5G standards around the world.
Analysis of the available data indicates a general and long-term pattern of larger data plans attracting an increasing proportion of the customer base.
Ericsson’s analysis of data from App Annie indicates that in the period from April 2017 to April 2018, the proportion of subscribers with data usage above 5 gigabytes per month has grown from 46 per cent to over 58 per cent. Driving this shift is the growing data consumption by consumers, growing smartphone penetration and attractive data packages being offered by operators.
Meanwhile, mobile data usage continues to increase in Thailand with video and social media use largely driving this growth. Ericsson’s analysis of data from App Annie indicates that in the 12 months from April 2017 to April 2018, Thai users increased their mobile use of Facebook by 58 per cent while almost doubling their usage of Instagram.
Globally, major 5G deployments are expected from 2020. Ericsson forecasts over 1 billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by the end of 2023, accounting for around 12 per cent of all mobile subscriptions.
Mobile data traffic is estimated to surge by eight times during the forecast period to reach close to 107 exabytes (EB) per month – a figure that is equal to every mobile subscriber worldwide streaming full HD video for 10 hours.
By 2023, more than 20 per cent of mobile data traffic worldwide is expected to be carried by 5G networks. This is 1.5 times more than the total 4G/3G/2G traffic today.
Following diffusion patterns of previous mobile access technologies, 5G is expected to be deployed first in dense urban areas with enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access as the first commercial use cases. Other use cases will come from industries such as automotive, manufacturing, utilities and healthcare.
Fredrik Jejdling, Ericsson’s executive vice president and head of business area network, said that 2018 is the year 5G networks go commercial as well as for large-scale deployments of cellular Internet of Things (IoT). First-generation 5G data-only devices are expected from the second half of 2018.
The first commercial smartphones supporting 5G in the mid-band range are expected early next year, while support for very high spectrum bands is expected in early to mid-2019.
However, the forecast for cellular IoT connections has nearly doubled since November 2017. It is now expected to reach an estimated 3.5 billion in 2023, driven by ongoing large-scale deployments in China. New massive IoT cellular technologies such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are fuelling this growth, giving service providers opportunities to improve efficiencies and enhance customer value.
Mobile operators have launched more than 60 cellular IoT networks worldwide using these technologies over the same underlying LTE network to support a diverse range of use cases.
In North America, these cases are centred on logistics and fleet management while in China the focus is on smart cities and smart agriculture.
The first commercial launches of 5G will be this year. North America is expected to lead the 5G uptake, with all major US operators planning to roll out 5G between late 2018 and mid-2019.
By the end of 2023, close to 50 per cent of all mobile subscriptions in North America are forecast to be for 5G, followed by Northeast Asia at 34 per cent, and Western Europe at 21 per cent.