Covid-19 impact: People are making much longer voice calls, finds Ericsson


Written by Nandagopal Rajan
| New Delhi |

Updated: July 8, 2020 12:33:13 pm

Ericsson’s APAC CTO Dr Magnus Ewerbring told that they have been seeing how the duration of sessions are increasing.

Among the many behavioural changes the coronavirus pandemic lockdown has induced is the trend that we are now making voice calls that last longer than usual. In fact, up to 70 per cent longer.

Ericsson’s APAC CTO Dr Magnus Ewerbring told that they have been seeing how the duration of sessions are increasing. “One very clear piece of statistic that we monitor is talktime — how long is a typical voice communication. And voice calls are now typically 20 to 70 per cent longer than they are traditionally,” he said in an video interaction, adding how this figure has been quite stable for many years. “What been going up is how often you talk, but now we see that the intensity is there but the duration is increasing, which is a significant change from earlier.”

Dr Ewerbring said that while for Ericsson it has always been very important to follow the commercial implementation of the networks and thereby look at traffic behaviour patterns, in the last few months they have got “extra energy to drive this kind of analysis with the Covid situation”. “So while we have fresher numbers and articulated conclusions in some areas, they are anyway pointing in a direction that we have seen for some years,” he explained, citing the example of when 3G was launched and how they noticed networks were busier in the evening when people were streaming content at home. Now, the traffic pressure has moved to residential areas from business districts as people are working from home across the world, Ericsson studies have found.

“Yes, traffic has shifted more to the residential areas even in June data, and the length has been extended and data volumes have gone up. Those are very interesting facts. But it’s not so that things have been tipped upside down,” said Dr Ewerbring who has been with Ericsson for over three decades. “It’s a continued trend that we have seen for some time and maybe it’s being stronger in certain directions that’s something we will continuously work with and can adapt to.”

READ | Lockdowns triggered rapid shift of network traffic from business to residential areas: Ericsson Mobility Report

Dr Ewerbring, who holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, said Ericsson always advises customers that when they deploy the networks they need to have strong implementations everywhere, because people will use it wherever they are. Linking it to Ericsson’s prediction that India will have one billion smartphones in 2025, he said: “That means you potentially have one billion access points to the Internet. People will not only connect when they are in their office or at home, but also when they are on the bus or out and about as well. My recommendation here to operators is to constantly follow where people are and follow their behaviour and make sure that they are well dimensioned for the levels of traffic they see all over the network, because people will always want to be connected.”

In terms of 5G launches across the world, Dr Ewerbring said that while operators need to relate to the pandemic in what they do, it’s not a limiting factor. “I think operators all over the world now are thinking of where they are in this change and when is it possible to launch 5G. And to a very high degree I think there is less of an impact (of the virus) in that sense. There are many things you need to do.”

Giving some context on the impact of 5G on the ecosystem in coming years, he cited the Ericsson Mobility Report which predicts there will 2.8 billion 5G connections in 2025, about 31 per cent of the total subscriptions. But that 31 per cent will generate 45 per cent of the network load. “Now, that 45 per cent in 2025 will be 2.4 times of all the load we had last year in the networks,” Dr Ewerbring put it in perspective, and underlined that there was no reason to hold off the switch to the newer generation of networks.

READ | India will triple data usage by 2025: Ericsson Mobility Report

“5G is the best we have. It’s the newest, it’s the latest, it’s the best. Ericsson started research on 5G in 2010. So it took us 10 years before we had full scale commercial services,” he explained, adding how there was a similar ’10-year-cycle’ for 4G and 3G as well.

“So, 5G contains the best possible knowledge we have. And then over the next 15 years or so 5G will continue to evolve. 4G is still evolving. So, 5G will be the best for a very long time to come. And therefore, there’s always incentive to go up there, but you also have to bear in mind that the other technologies are not fading out overnight,” he said, adding that of the 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions predicted for 20205, 4.4 billion, or about half, will still be on 4G networks.

“The world is not binary, but you certainly see the rise of 5G coming along. And over time devices will be more and more affordable and more people can go into the newest generation. And over time, you know, people will move up the ladder of getting the next G.”

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