5G will Account for Half of all Telephone Subscriptions By 2027

By 2027, 5G will have surpassed all other mobile technologies. By then, 5G is expected to account for roughly half of all mobile subscriptions worldwide, covering 75% of the world’s population and carrying 62% of global smartphone traffic.

This was revealed by an analysis of current and historical network data included in the special edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report to commemorate the report’s tenth anniversary. The report examines the key trends and events that have shaped the industry over the last decade, including the 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic from 2011 to 2021.

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The updated forecast of nearly 660 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year reinforces the premise that 5G will be the fastest deployed mobile generation ever. The increase is due to higher-than-expected demand in China and North America, owing in part to lower 5G device prices. There was also a net increase of 98 million 5G subscriptions globally in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. 5G networks are expected to cover more than two billion people by the end of 2021.

Since 2011, the proliferation of 4G LTE networks has been critical in connecting 5.5 billion cellphones worldwide, resulting in the availability of over 20,000 different models of 4G devices on the market. According to Ericsson’s report, 5G devices have a much shorter technology lifecycle than 4G devices, with fifth generation terminals accounting for 23 percent of global volumes today, compared to 8 percent for 4G terminals during the same time period.

This is assisting in the exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Mobile network data traffic increased 42 percent year on year to approximately 78EB in the third quarter of 2021, including traffic generated by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services. More mobile data traffic was generated in the third quarter alone than all mobile data traffic generated up until the end of 2016. According to the new projections, total mobile data traffic will likely reach 370EB by the end of 2027.

According to Ericsson’s report, the nature of mobile connections is rapidly changing, contributing to the continued increase in mobile data traffic. The new forecasts confirm the rapid growth of “massive IoT” implementations, which include use cases such as wearables for health monitoring, logistics tracking, environmental monitoring, smart meters, and smart devices for smart manufacturing. Massive IoT implementations are expected to account for 51% of all cellular IoT connections by 2027.

FWA connections are expected to nearly triple over the same time period, from 88 million at the end of 2021 to around 230 million in 2027. Almost half of these connections will be based on 5G networks.

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