2019 is the year that 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.
With this in mind, worldwide telecoms company, Ericsson believes the global number of 5G subscriptions will top 2.6 billion within the next six years, driven by sustained momentum and a rapidly developing 5G ecosystem. The expectation is that 5G will cover up to 65 per cent of the world’s population by the end of 2025 and handle 45 per cent of global mobile data traffic.
The 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 total number of cellular IoT connections is estimated at five billion by the end of 2025, from 1.3 billion by the end of 2019. And 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.
“It is encouraging to see that 5G now has broad support from almost all device makers. In 2020, 5G-compatible devices will enter the volume market, which will scale up 5G adoption,” says Fredrik Jejdling, Executive VP and Head of Networks at Ericsson. “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, modernizing networks is also key to this technological change we’re going through.”