5G subscriptions to reach 1.5bn by 2024

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The number of global 5G subscriptions will reach 1.5 billion by 2024 as demand for faster mobile internet drives adoption, according to new report.

Initial take-up of 5G is expected to be slow, reflecting limited coverage and device availability, but is expected to accelerate as deployments continue and more compatible handsets are released.

The first commercial 5G services went live last year in the US, with South Korea, the UK and Switzerland among several nations to follow suit. In the UK, EE and Vodafone offer mobile 5G networks, while Three has a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband services.

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GlobalData says that within five years there will be  924 million subscriptions in Asia-Pacific, with 254 million in North America and 242 million in Europe. Other regions, such as the Middle East and Latin America, will be slower to adopt.

“While there is excitement around some of the early network launches in markets such as South Korea, the US, the UK and United Arab Emirates (UAE); the global 5G market will really accelerate over the next two years as more handset manufactures bring 5G capable devices to the market,” said Malcolm Rogers, senior technology analyst at GlobalData.

“Currently each operator with 5G service availability only has a handful of compatible smartphones on offer and usually at the flagship tier. Once 5G devices become more mainstream and competitively priced, we expect a large uptick in 5G subscription and revenue growth.”

5G service revenue will be worth $301 billion by 2024, with Asia-Pacific again leading with $121 billion. However North American operators will see the highest proportion of revenue coming from 5G at 45 per cent. In Asia-Pacific and Europe, the rate will be 31 per cent.

“While device availability and network expansions will help drive 5G subscription growth across all global regions, operators in North America are already taking a proactive approach towards offering higher value services beyond connectivity,” explained Rogers.

“Players like AT&T and Verizon are looking to launch more advanced 5G based services around AR/VR, robotics, and cloud based traffic control and other services based on real-time 5G IoT analytics. Operators willing to innovate around 5G will be able to drive more revenue from the technology.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.