Only 21 operators reach 10% 5G subscriber penetration on their network

Only 14 percent of 5G networks have reached 10 percent subscriber penetration according to the latest Omdia research. While 147 operators had launched 5G by the end of June 2021, only 14 percent (21 operators) have reached 10 percent subscriber penetration on their network.
Far EasTone 5G network
10 percent in-network penetration is a key milestone for 5G as this is the point at which 5G appears to begin to have a positive impact on mobile revenues.

Data from 5G market South Korea shows a clear revenue uplift post-5G launch once market penetration passed 10 percent a year ago.

In China, 5G subscriptions nearly doubled in the first half of 2021 to reach 318 million in June, which is equivalent to 11 percent of total mobile connections. Mobile services revenues in China grew 4.7 percent and 3.7 percent year on year in Q1 and Q2 – a level that hasn’t been seen since early 2018.

“We can only speculate about the impact of 5G on service providers until the technology reaches a certain critical mass beyond early adopters. Only South Korea has reached this point and the story there is a positive one,” said Ronan De Renesse, senior research director, Omdia. “Another 24 markets are due to reach 10 percent 5G population penetration by the end of 2021, 37 in 2022 and over 100 in 2026.”

Chinese, Korean, Japanese and US operators commanded over 93 percent of the global 5G market in Q2 2021. Among the more than 400 million subscriptions globally, 82 percent are in Asia, of which 87 percent are in China. Markets outside Asia with more than 5 percent population penetration include the US, Finland and Ireland.

Markets are expected to see 5 percent data ARPU uplift from two years onwards post 5G launch. There is no direct correlation as markets are affected by factors such as macroeconomic dynamics, COVID recovery, local market competition and regulation.

Mature markets will see less growth in percentage terms than others because growth coming from digital services inclusion in developing and emerging markets will dwarf the effects of 5G. For example, while 5G may command a 10 percent increase in ARPU, a first-time smartphone user in Africa may double their mobile bill.