More Than Half a Billion 5G Subscriptions by the end of 2021
Ericsson Projects that 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million by the end of 2021, driven by an estimated one million new 5G mobile subscriptions every day. The forecast, which features in the twentieth edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, enhances the expectation that 5G will become the fastest adopted mobile generation. About 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions and 60 percent 5G population coverage are forecast by the end of 2026.
However, the pace of adoption varies widely by region. Europe is off to a slower start and has continued to fall far behind China, the U.S., Korea, Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets in the pace of 5G deployments. 5G is expected to surpass a billion subscriptions two years ahead of the 4G LTE timeline for the same milestone. Key factors behind that include China’s earlier commitment to 5G and the earlier availability and increasing affordability of commercial 5G devices.
More than 300 5G smartphone models have already been announced or launched commercially. This commercial 5G momentum is expected to continue in coming years, spurred by the enhanced role of connectivity as a key component of post-COVID-19 economic recovery. North East Asia is expected to account for the largest share of 5G subscriptions by 2026, with an estimated 1.4 billion 5G subscriptions.
While North American and GCC markets are expected to account for the highest 5G subscription penetration, with 5G mobile subscriptions comprising 84 percent and 73 percent of all regional mobile subscriptions respectively. Mobile subscriptions in the South East Asia and Oceania region have now exceeded 1.1 billion, with 5G subscriptions being just below the 2 million mark.
5G subscriptions are expected to grow strongly over the next few years with a forecast total of about 400 million by 2026. South East Asia and Oceania region will also see data traffic per smartphone growing at the fastest rate globally, reaching 39GB/month by 2026 – a CAGR of 36 percent. Total mobile data traffic will grow accordingly, with a CAGR of 42 percent, reaching 39EB/month driven by continued growth in 4G subscriptions and 5G uptake in those markets where 5G has already been launched.
Vinod Samarawickrama, Head of Ericsson Sri Lanka, says, “5G will play a critical role in building the national infrastructure to digitalise the country’s economy and realise the vision of a fully connected nation. Advanced use cases and affordable smart devices will help accelerate 5G implementation and adoption in the country.
The initial payback for 5G to telecom service providers will be lower costs to address the traffic growth. 5G combined with IoT, would help accelerate the government’s digital transformation initiatives and help in the socio -economic development of the country.”