Comms technologist Ericsson expects the global number of 5G subscriptions to top 2.6 billion within the next six years, driven by sustained momentum and a rapidly developing 5G ecosystem. The forecast is included in the November 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, alongside a range of other forecasts with an end-of-2025 timeline and communications service provider insights.
Average monthly data-traffic-per-smartphone is forecast to increase from the current figure of 7.2 GB to 24 GB by the end of 2025, in part driven by new consumer behaviour, such as Virtual Reality (VR) streaming. With 7.2 GB per month, one can stream 21 minutes of HD video (1280 x 720) daily, while 24 GB would allow streaming 30 minutes of HD video with an additional six minutes of VR each day.
The report also projects that 5G will cover up to 65 per cent of the global population by the end of 2025 and handle 45 per cent of global mobile data traffic.
2019 is the year leading communications service providers in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America switched on their 5G networks. South Korea has already seen a big 5G uptake since its April 2019 launch. More than three million subscriptions were collectively recorded by the country’s service providers by the end of September 2019.
China’s launch of 5G in late October has also led to an update of the estimated 5G subscriptions for the end of 2019, from 10 million to 13 million.
“It is encouraging to see that 5G now has broad support from almost all device makers,” notes Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson. “In 2020, 5G-compatible devices will enter the volume market, which will scale up 5G adoption. The question is no longer if, but how quickly we can convert use cases into relevant applications for consumers and enterprises. With 4G remaining a strong connectivity enabler in many parts of the world, modernising networks is also key to this technological change we’re going through.”
Given its current momentum, 5G subscription uptake is expected to be significantly faster than that of LTE. The most rapid uptake is expected in North America with 74 per cent of mobile subscriptions in the region forecast to be 5G by the end of 2025. North East Asia is expected to follow at 56 per cent, with Europe at 55 per cent.
Other forecasts include: total number of cellular IoT connections now seen at five billion by the end of 2025 from 1.3 billion by the end of 2019 – a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent. NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are estimated to account for 52 per cent of these cellular IoT connections in 2025.
Year-on-year traffic growth for the third quarter of 2019 remained high at 68 per cent, driven by the growing number of smartphone subscriptions in India, the increased monthly data traffic per smartphone in China, better device capabilities, an increase in data-intensive content, and more affordable data plans.
The report also takes an in-depth look at service providers’ tariff plans, revealing that most service providers who have launched 5G have priced 5G packages about 20 per cent higher than their nearest available 4G offering.
Ericsson now has more than 75 commercial 5G agreements or contracts with unique communication service providers, of which 23 are live networks.