5G fastest growing mobile technology – report

8th July 2022

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Fifth-generation (5G) technology is scaling faster than any previous mobile technology generations, with predictions that it will account for 60% of global mobile network data traffic by 2027.

The June 2022 Ericsson Mobility Report reveals that, currently, about a quarter of the world’s population has access to 5G coverage, with about 70-million 5G subscriptions added during the first quarter of 2022, bringing the total to 620-million.

By 2027, about three-quarters of the world’s population will have access to the next-generation technology, and it will become the dominant mobile access technology by subscriptions.

“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,” says Ericsson executive VP and networks head Fredrik Jejdling.

By the end of this year, 5G subscriptions are expected to exceed one-billion – two years sooner than fourth-generation (4G) technology did – and, by 2027, it will reach 4.4-billion, accounting for 48% of all mobile subscriptions.

With more than 210 networks commercially launched across the world, 5G population coverage reached about 25% at the end of 2021, 18 months faster than the time it took for 4G network buildout to reach 25% population coverage after its first commercial launch year.

The accelerated uptake of 5G is attributed to key factors, including the timely availability of devices from several vendors, with prices falling faster than was the case for 4G and China’s large early 5G deployments, the report indicates.

In addition, 4G subscriptions will continue to increase, growing by 70-million during the quarter to about 4.9-billion, before peaking at five-billion in 2022 and then starting to decline to about 3.5-billion by the end of 2027 as subscribers migrate to 5G.

Global 4G population coverage was about 85% at the end of 2021 and is forecast to reach about 95% in 2027.

There are currently 809 commercial 4G networks deployed across the world.

Third-generation (3G) subscriptions declined by 49-million during the first quarter of 2022, while GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions decreased by 59-million and other technologies decreased by about five-million.

Meanwhile, North America is forecast to lead the world in 5G subscription penetration in the next five years, with nine-of-every-ten, or 90%, subscriptions in the region expected to be 5G by 2027.

Over the next five years, 5G will account for 82% of subscriptions in Western Europe; 80% in the Gulf Cooperation Council region; and 74% in North East Asia.

In India, where 5G deployments have yet to start, 5G is expected to account for nearly 40% of all subscriptions by 2027, the report points out.

“The deployment of 5G standalone networks is increasing in many regions as communications service providers gear up for innovation to address the business opportunities beyond enhanced mobile broadband. A solid digital network infrastructure underpins enterprises’ digital transformation plans, and their new capabilities can be turned into new customer services,” adds Ericsson Mobility Report executive editor Peter Jonsson.

Over 20 service providers had launched public 5G standalone networks by the end of 2021, a number that is expected to double this year.

While 5G dominates the report’s forecasts, earlier-generation technologies still play an important role in closing the digital divide in many regions by connecting the unconnected, the Ericsson Mobility Report highlights.

Meanwhile, the Ericsson Mobility Report also reveals that global mobile network data traffic doubled to 93 EB in the past two years, driven by increased smartphone and mobile broadband use, as well as the digitalisation of society and industries.

Mobile network data traffic grew 40% year-on-year and 10% quarter-on-quarter.

The monthly average use per smartphone is expected to pass 15 GB in 2022.

“The recent statistics and forecasts highlight the strong demand data connectivity and digital services have, and are expected to have, despite the global Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties. Several hundred million people are becoming new mobile broadband subscribers every year,” the report highlights.

Further, the number of fixed wireless access (FWA) connections will exceed 100-million in 2022 and more than double by 2027, reaching almost 230-million, as it plays an increasingly important role in the delivery of broadband services.

About 77% of service providers surveyed in over 100 countries are offering FWA services.

Service providers’ adoption of FWA offerings has more than doubled in the last three years, with 238 of the 311 service providers studied now having an FWA offering.

During the last six months, the number of service providers offering 5G FWA services increased from 57 to 75, representing growth of about 30%.

“There is growth across all regions, with the strongest increase in North America, where 60% of all service providers surveyed now offer 5G FWA,” the report says.

Overall FWA connections are expected to show strong growth of 17% a year until 2027.

Meanwhile, at the end of 2021, there were about 8.2-billion mobile subscriptions, a figure projected to increase to about 9.1-billion by the end of 2027.

The number of unique mobile subscribers is projected to grow from 6.1-billion in 2021 to 6.7-billion by the end of 2027.

The share of mobile broadband subscriptions will increase from 84% to 93% over the next five years.

Further, there were 6.3-billion subscriptions associated with smartphones at the end of 2021, accounting for about 77% of all mobile phone subscriptions.

The report predicts that this will reach 7.8-billion, accounting for about 87% of all mobile subscriptions, by 2027.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor




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