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5 Things to Know About Mobile Connectivity in 2020

In its Annual Internet Report, Cisco offers up a global forecast and analysis that assesses digital transformation across various business segments, including enterprise, small to mid-sized businesses, the public sector and service providers. Covering fixed broadband, Wi-Fi and mobile (3G/4G/5G) networking, Cisco examines applications, security, infrastructure transformation and the empowerment of employees and teams.

Here are the company’s top five observations for the year ahead (the full report and list are available online here): 

1. The number of internet users continues to proliferate around the world. Globally, the total number of internet users is projected to grow from 3.9 billion in 2018 to 5.3 billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6%. In its report, Cisco says this represented 51% of the global population in 2018 and will represent 66% of global population penetration by 2023. The region with the highest adoption throughout the forecast period is North America, followed by Western Europe, with the fastest growth projected to occur in the Middle East and Africa.

2. Mobile device usage is exploding. Globally, devices and connections are growing faster (10% CAGR) than both the population (1.0% CAGR) and the internet users (6% CAGR). “This trend is accelerating the increase in the average number of devices and connections per household and per capita,” Cisco points out, noting that various new devices in different form factors with increased capabilities and intelligence are introduced and adopted in the market every year. It sees smart meters, video surveillance, healthcare monitoring, transportation, and package or asset tracking as some of the major contributors to the growth of devices and connections. By 2023, the consumer share of the total devices, including both fixed and mobile devices, will be 74%, with business claiming the remaining 26%. 

3. M2M connections will soon outnumber people. Direct communication between devices using any communications channel—including wired and wireless—machine-to-machine (M2M) is on a tear right now. Cisco says M2M connections will grow 2.4-fold, from 6.1 billion in 2018 to 14.7 billion by 2023, and there will be 1.8 M2M connections for each member of the global population by 2023. “Connected home applications, such as home automation, home security and video surveillance, connected white goods, and tracking applications, will represent 48% of the total M2M connections by 2023,” Cisco reports. The company says this proves the pervasiveness of M2M in our lives. 

4. 5G is pushing a new evolution in mobile devices. According to Cisco, mobile devices are evolving from lower-generation network connectivity (2G) to higher-generation network connectivity (3G, 3.5G, 4G or LTE, and now also 5G). By 2023, 4G connections will be 46% of total mobile connections (compared to 42% in 2018), with 5G connections expected to grow by 100-fold to 1.4 billion by 2023. Cisco sees 5G connectivity as a strong contender for mobile connectivity driven by mobile Internet of Things (IoT) growth, and says there will be 11% devices and connections with 5G capability by 2023.

5. Faster mobile connectivity equals higher usage. Globally, Cisco says the average mobile network connection speed in 2018 was 13.2 Mbps, and that it will more than triple to reach 43.9 Mbps by 2023. “Anecdotal evidence supports the idea that overall use increases when speed increases,” the company points out, “although there is often a delay between the increase in speed and the increased use, which can range from a few months to several years.” Finally, Cisco says that a crucial factor promoting the increase in mobile speeds over the next few years is the increasing proportion of 4G mobile connections and the rise of 5G connections. “The effect of 4G and 5G connections on traffic is significant, because they contribute to a disproportionate

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