Global 5G subscriptions on track to reach 1.5 billion in 2023

Despite geopolitical challenges and macroeconomic slowdown in some markets, communications service providers (CSPs) worldwide are continuing to invest in 5G, a new report from Ericsson shows.

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report found that 5G subscriptions are rising in every region worldwide and forecast to reach 1.5 billion by the end of 2023. 

Global mobile network data traffic continues to grow with the monthly global average usage per smartphone expected to exceed 20 GB by the end of 2023.

Mobile data traffic per smartphone continues to grow strongly in Southeast Asia and Oceania and is expected to reach around 54 gigabytes per month in 2028 – a CAGR of 24%. 

Total mobile data traffic is estimated to grow from around 13 exabytes per month in 2022 to 55 exabytes per month in 2028, growing at a CAGR of 27%.

5G subscriptions are forecast to reach around 430 million by the end of 2028 and will contribute 34% of all mobile subscriptions in the region by that time. 

In terms of 5G coverage as of the end of 2022, 5G was available to around half of the population in Malaysia and 66% in the Philippines.

More than 80% of the population in Australia and Thailand had access to 5G while Singapore achieved more than 95% coverage by mid-2022.

Martin Wiktorin, head of Ericsson in Singapore, Philippines and Brunei, said that service providers across the region continue to focus on creating innovative products and services for both consumers and businesses. 

“An example of this is in Singapore, where we have been working with Singtel on utilizing the capabilities of 5G standalone (SA) to build network slicing use cases. In 2022, supported by network slicing, Singtel’s racing fans at the Singapore Grand Prix enjoyed high-quality video streaming, taking their event experience to the next level,” said Wiktorin.

“We also expect to see an accelerated digitalization of enterprises in Singapore, powered by 5G,” he added.

The number of smartphone subscriptions in the Southeast Asia region is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3%, reaching over 1.12 billion by 2028 from 930 million at the end of 2022.

4G is also showing growth with subscriptions expected to reach 770 million in 2028 from 640 million at the end of 2022 – a CAGR of 3%.

India is leading the way globally in terms of 5G mobile subscriptions. Following the launch of 5G services in October 2022, the Indian market is witnessing huge 5G network deployments under its Digital India initiative. 

5G subscriptions in India reached about 10 million by end of 2022 and are estimated to account for about 57% of mobile subscriptions in the country by the end of 2028, making it the fastest growing 5G region globally.

The report also shows continued revenue growth in leading 5G markets. Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and head of networks at Ericsson, said the global adoption of 5G technology has surpassed one billion subscriptions, bringing positive revenue growth for CSPs in leading 5G markets. 

“We see a strong link between the increase in 5G subscriptions and service revenue,” said Jejdling. “Over the past two years, the introduction of 5G services in the top 20 markets has resulted in a 7% revenue boost. This trend shows the growing value of 5G, benefiting users and service providers alike.”

Worldwide, around 240 CSPs have launched commercial 5G services and about 35 have deployed or launched 5G standalone. 

The most common 5G services launched by service providers for consumers are enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), gaming and some AR/VR-based services, such as training and education.