Ericsson believes there will be more than one billion 5G mobile subscriptions by the end of the year, a figure which will reach 4.4 billion by 2027.
The annual Ericsson Mobility Report said 5G was scaling faster than any previous generation of mobile technology, with a quarter of the world’s population now having access. By 2027, this will have increased to three quarters, helping to explain the rapid adoption rate.
Within five years, 5G will account for 90% of all mobile subscriptions in North America, 82% in Western Europe, and 74% in Northeast Asia. In India, where rollout has yet to begin, analysts predict takeup will be 40% - highlighting the pace of expansion.
But availability is only one part of the equation. The report found volume of global mobile traffic has doubled over the past two years, with enhancements in network infrastructure and the wider digitisation of society, accelerated by the pandemic, driving consumption.
The report also notes that 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) will achieve 100 million subscriptions by 2022 and 230 million by 2027, with 4G and 5G superseding the aging 2G and 3G standards in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.
“The latest Ericsson Mobility Report confirms 5G as the fastest growing mobile technology generation ever, and Ericsson is playing a key role in making it happen,” said Fredrik Jejdling, head of networks at Ericsson.
“We work every day with our customers and ecosystem partners around the world to ensure that millions more people, enterprises, industries, and societies enjoy the benefits of 5G connectivity as soon as possible.”
Ericsson’s forecast is broadly in line with a more optimistic recent analysis from CCS Insight which claimed there would be 1.2 billion subscriptions by the end of 2022 with 4.5 billion by 2026.
“Despite 5G's foundational years being clouded by the Covid-19 pandemic and the problems it created, the market is in a stronger position as we enter the second half of 2022,” said James Manning Smith, senior analyst at CCS Insight.
“The world still faces a bleak macroeconomic and geopolitical outlook in 2022, coupled with supply chain difficulties. But the transition of mobile subscribers to 5G networks is set to make good progress, with 5G connections forecast to nearly double this year to 1.2 billion.”