IoT devices to exceed mobile phones in number

By Yoon Sung-won

The number of registered Internet of Things (IoT) devices will exceed that of mobile phones in the next two years on the back of a greater rate of growth and cost efficiency, Ericsson-LG said Tuesday.

The network system and service provider reported in its annual mobility report that IoT devices will be the most common telecom equipment by 2018, replacing cell phones.

According to the report, the number of registered IoT devices reached 4.6 billion globally as of last year, compared to 7.1 billion handsets. The report projected that there will be more than 16 billion registered IoT devices while the number of handsets will settle at 8.6 billion. The average annual growth rate of IoT devices in the cited period is estimated to be 23 percent, it revealed.

The rapid penetration of connected car technologies will expedite the growth of IoT devices in number, especially in Europe, whereas the demand for smartphones has already neared its upper limit, Ericsson-LG said.

European countries have said they will introduce a policy that obligates all carmakers to install telecom modules in every car starting in 2018.

“More cars in Korea are having telecom modules installed in them so they can become connected devices in the big picture, speeding up the penetration of the IoT,” Ericsson-LG’s mobile broadband department director Bobby Jeong said.

He also said lower prices of IoT chipsets and modules will further accelerate the penetration of IoT devices.

According to data by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, there are about 816,000 registered cars with telecom modules here. More than 4.62 million IoT devices were online in Korea as of April, the ministry data showed.

Meanwhile, Ericsson-LG said mobile devices will provide faster networks this year as carriers are pushing to commercialize the 1-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) download speed.

“In the latter half of this year, mobile devices that support up to 1Gbps network speed will be rolled out in advanced mobile markets such as the United States, China, Japan and Korea,” Jeong said. “Mobile users will benefit from more than a 66 percent increase in download speed.”

The company, however, said SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus will not be able to establish networks faster than 1Gbps at least within this year as their respective frequency compositions include only 20 megahertz (MHz) bandwidths and 10MHz.