The number of 5G subscriptions are expected to reach about 660 million by the end of 2021, boosting projections that the technology will become the fastest-deployed mobile generation to date.
This is from Ericsson’s 10th yearly Mobility Report, which also revealed an almost 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic since 2011.
The increase in 5G subscriptions is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, driven in part by decreasing prices of 5G devices. At the end of 2021, it is estimated that 5G networks will cover more than two billion people.
According to the latest forecasts, 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% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide, covering 75% of the world’s population and carrying 62% of the global smartphone traffic by 2027.
“Mobile communication has had an incredible impact on society and business over the last ten years,” said Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and head of networks at Ericsson. “When we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will be more integral than ever to how we interact, live and work.”
Since 2011, the deployment of 4G LTE networks has been pivotal in generating 5.5 billion new smartphone connections worldwide, contributing to the market availability of more than 20,000 different 4G device models.
The report indicates a much earlier technology lifecycle of 5G devices, with 5G handsets today accounting for 23% of global volumes, compared to 8% of 4G handsets at the corresponding point in its lifecycle.
This is helping to fuel an exponential growth of mobile data traffic which, new forecasts reveal is likely to reach 370 exabytes by the end of 2027.
Also, 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% of all cellular IoT connections by the end of 2021, compared to 37% for 2G/3G and 16% for Massive IoT technologies (NB-IoT and Cat-M).
New forecasts reaffirm the rapid acceleration of massive IoT deployments in coming years, spanning use cases such as e-health wearables, logistical asset tracking, environmental monitoring and smart meters, and smart manufacturing tracking and monitoring devices. Massive IoT deployments are forecast to account for 51% of all cellular IoT connections by 2027.
In the same forecast period, fixed wireless access 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.