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Mobile data traffic in ASEAN, Oceania to grow 11-fold by 2022

The expansion of 4G and IoT networks in ASEAN and Oceania will lead to a data deluge and drive cellular subscriptions to new levels

Fuelled by growing adoption of 4G services and the internet of things (IoT) in Southeast Asia and Oceania, mobile data traffic in the region is expected to surge 11-fold by 2022, a report by Ericsson has found.

According to Ericsson, the expansion of 4G networks throughout the region is driving mobile subscriptions to “monumental proportions”. By the end of 2017, about 50% of all mobile subscriptions will be associated with smartphones, reaching around 70% by the end of 2022.

IoT is another key driver of mobile data traffic in the region, with the number of cellular IoT subscriptions slated to grow more than four-fold to 180 million between 2016 and 2022.

Ericsson said this would facilitate digital transformation of industries and provide mobile operators in the region with opportunities to take on different roles in the IoT value chain.

Despite the growth of cellular IoT subscriptions, radio technologies that operate on unlicensed spectrum will still dominate IoT deployments in the region.

Ericsson said cellular network operators could still play a crucial role in connecting IoT networks that ride on unlicensed spectrum to the internet, while negating the need for each IoT device to be cellular-enabled.

By 2022, early deployments of 5G will also translate into an estimated 28 million 5G subscriptions. Ericsson said new spectrum availability and the development of innovative use cases should help to accelerate the deployment of 5G services across Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Magnus Ewerbring, chief technology officer of Ericsson Asia-Pacific (APAC), said APAC would lead the global roll-out of 5G, along with North America.

“This will be driven initially in South Korea in 2018, closely followed by Japan and China by 2020. Australia and Singapore are also expected to be early adopters of 5G,” he said.

In May 2017, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said it would waive the frequency fees for 5G trials in a bid to lower regulatory barriers and encourage the industry to test the next-generation mobile technology.

With the commercial deployment of 5G services and applications, spectrum needs are expected to increase substantially. IMDA has identified several spectrum bands – from 800MHz to 86GHz – that may be suitable for 5G deployments in Singapore.

5G networks are expected to be rolled out in Singapore by 2020. Telecoms operators such as Singtel and M1 have been testing 5G technology, with the latter having achieved the country’s highest transmission speeds of 35Gbps in January 2017.

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