The number of connected smart devices will quintuple over the next five years as new high-speed 5G networks arrive to handle their traffic, telecom equipment maker Ericsson said in a report Tuesday.
The forecast, made in the Swedish company's 2018 mobility report, sees the market for Internet of Things devices growing to 3.5 billion units by 2023, five times the 700 million IoT devices currently in use. This doubles the company's forecast from November.
Patrik Cerwall, who runs industry marketing at Ericsson, said the next-generation wireless networks will fuel the growth. Nearly 1 billion devices will take advantage of a 5G connection, he said.
"We have been reporting on mobile industry development for a number of years," Cerwall said in a statement. "However, this report is probably one of the more exciting ones because we are at the start of a big change in the industry."
The Ericsson report forecasts the launch of first commercial 5G networks later this year. The launches will occur in big markets, including North America, South Korea, Japan and China. By 2023, the company estimates 20 percent of all mobile data traffic globally will be carried by 5G networks.
5G, short for fifth-generation network technology, has been the talk of tech town for the past few years. It's 10 times faster than 4G and will serve as a more reliable platform for new technologies. This will encourage the proliferation of devices such as health monitors and pollution sensors, which will use mobile networks to transmit data, as well as augmented reality and other data-intense technology.