5G mobile subscriptions will exceed half a billion by the end of 2021, says Ericsson report

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Ericsson report finds that more than 160 CSPs have launched 5G services

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report predicts that by the end of 2021, 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million by the end of 2021, and by 2026, the new technology will hit 3.5 billion subscriptions and penetrate every region, with North America outpacing the rest, claiming 84% of all global 5G subscriptions.

Driven by an estimated one million new mobile subscriptions every day, 5G subscription uptake is expected to be faster than that of 4G. If fact, 5G subscriptions are estimated to reach 1 billion two years earlier than 4G, which was launched in 2009. However, 4G, according to the report, will remain the dominant technology by subscription for some time, only declining around 2026. 4G saw an increase in subscriptions by approximately 100 million during the first quarter of 2021, exceeding 4.6 billion, which represents 58% of all mobile subscriptions.

ericsson report 5g

While global 5G progress is undoubtably being made — more than 160 communications service providers have launched 5G services — Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and head of networks at Ericsson, stated in the report’s introduction that rate of adoption various considerably from region to region.

“The picture becomes a bit different when looking at the development on a regional level, where it is clear that it will take longer in some regions for 5G to be deployed and ready for mass-adoption,” he said. “Nevertheless, whether it’s 4G or 5G, the need for good, high-speed connectivity is virtually limitless. The fact that more than 70% of all service providers are now offering fixed wireless access (FWA) services speaks to this need.”

ericsson report 5g

He added that China, the USA and South Korea are emerging as “pioneer markets.”

FWA connections are expected to exceed 180 million by the end of 2026, accounting for more than 20% of total mobile network data traffic globally. This growth is being driven by the acceleration of 5G commercial launches. In fact, nearly 90% of service providers that have launched 5G also have an FWA offering, whether 4G, 5G or both.

ericsson report 5g

The report indicates that more than 300 5G smartphone models have been announced or launched commercially, and despite the semiconductor shortage, global smartphone shipments are expected to grow 7% year-on-year in 2021. Further, the first chipsets and devices with NR carrier aggregation (CA) capability, as well as new device chipsets for mmWave spectrum bands became available in 2021.

Mobile network data traffic grew 46% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, which, after an extraordinary peak seen in 2018 and 2019, is considered “normal” and “steady.”  

“As societies plan a return to a more normal situation after the pandemic, the need to secure and invest in high-quality digital infrastructure should be on everyone’s agenda as a key component of economic recovery. It’s a good thing, then, that the industry able to deliver on that need is already on its way to doing so,” Jejdling said.

Access the full Ericsson Mobility Report for June here.

About Author

Catherine is a Technology Editor for RCR Wireless News, Enterprise IoT Insights, and In-Building Technology. Before joining Arden Media, she served as an Associate Editor in Advantage Business Marketing's Manufacturing and Research & Development Groups. She studied English and Film & Media Studies at The University of Rochester. She currently lives in Madison, WI. Having already lived on both coasts, she thought she’d give the middle a try. So far, she likes it very much.

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