The number of 5G subscriptions will reach 660 million by the end of this year. The increase is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, driven in part by decreasing prices of 5G devices, the Ericsson Mobility Report November 2021 said.
There was also a net addition of 98 million 5G subscriptions globally in Q3 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. At the end of 2021, it is estimated that 5G networks will cover more than two billion people.
5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology, based on subscriptions globally, by 2027. 5G is also expected to account for around 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide – covering 75 percent of the world’s population and carrying 62 percent of the global smartphone traffic by 2027.
Since 2011, the deployment of 4G LTE networks has been pivotal in generating 5.5 billion smartphone connections worldwide, contributing to the market availability of more than 20,000 different 4G device models.
This report indicates a much earlier technology lifecycle of 5G devices, with 5G handsets accounting for 23 percent of global volumes, compared to 8 percent of 4G handsets at the corresponding point in its lifecycle.
This is helping to fuel an exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Mobile network data traffic was up 42 percent, year-on-year, in Q3 2021 accounting for approximately 78 exabytes (EB), including traffic generated by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services. In Q3 alone, mobile data traffic was more than all mobile traffic ever generated up until the end of 2016. New forecasts reveal that total mobile network data traffic is likely to reach 370EB by the end of 2027.
The report said broadband IoT has now surpassed 2G/3G as the segment that connects the largest share of IoT applications. It is expected to account for 47 percent of all cellular IoT connections by the end of 2021, compared to 37 percent for 2G / 3G and 16 percent for Massive IoT technologies (NB-IoT and Cat-M).
Massive IoT deployments are forecast to account for 51 percent of all cellular IoT connections by 2027, driven demand from use cases such as e-health wearables, logistical asset tracking, environmental monitoring and smart meters, and smart manufacturing tracking and monitoring devices.
FWA connections are forecast to grow almost threefold – from 88 million by the end of 2021, to around 230 million in 2027. Almost half of these connections are expected to be carried over 5G networks, the report said.
Forecast on India
4G is expected to remain the dominant technology in 2027 in the India region. 4G subscriptions in the India region are forecast to drop from 790 million in 2021 to 710 million in 2027, showing an annual average decline of 2 percent. 4G subscriptions are expected to reduce from 68 percent of mobile subscriptions in 2021 to 55 percent in 2027 as subscribers migrate to 5G.
5G will represent around 39 percent of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2027, estimated at about 500 million subscriptions. The number of smartphone subscriptions is expected to be 810 million at the end of 2021 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7 percent, reaching over 1.2 billion by 2027. Smartphone subscriptions accounted for 70 percent of total mobile subscriptions in 2021 and are projected to constitute around 94 percent in 2027.