COVID-19 crisis jacks up 5G subscriptions

The global number of 5G subscriptions is expected to exceed 190 million by the end of 2020 and 2.8 billion by the end of 2025, with Southeast Asia and Oceania accounting for 21% of mobile subscriptions by 2025, according to the June 2020 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to do many things differently and to move activities online to different digital platforms,” said Nunzio Mirtillo, head of Ericsson Southeast Asia, Oceania and India.

“This has led to data proliferation as well as a geographical shift of data traffic from downtown business and public areas to residential areas on both fixed and mobile networks,” said Mirtillo. “The crisis has also demonstrated the critical importance of connectivity.”

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Ericsson observed that while 5G subscription growth in some markets has slowed as a result of the pandemic, this is outweighed by other markets where it is accelerating.

“Unlike previous generations centred around consumer and personal communications, 5G will serve both consumers and enterprises (and) 5G will take IoT to the next level where superior connectivity is a prerequisite,” said Mirtillo.

Changes in behaviour due to lockdown restrictions have caused measurable changes in the usage of both fixed and mobile networks. The largest share of the traffic increase has been absorbed by fixed residential networks, which has experienced a growth of 20% to 100%. But many service providers also noticed a spike in demand on their mobile network.

Also, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, connectivity has enabled companies to continue engaging with customers as well as conduct business transactions online. Additionally, the combination of 5G and digitalisation creates new opportunities for service providers to extend their businesses beyond connectivity into a variety of sectors ranging from healthcare, automotive to manufacturing.

In Southeast Asia, the projected value of the 5G-enabled digitalisation revenues for service providers will be approximately US$41 billion by 2030.