Ericsson Forecast: 1 Billion Global 5G Subscriptions in 2023

Global 5G subscriptions will reach 1 billion by the end of 2023, with 5G covering more than 20% of the global population, Ericsson has predicted.

Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report predicts that the first 5G new radio deployments will go live in 2019, with major deployments from 2020. Early 5G deployments are expects in markets including South Korea, Japan, China and the US.

LTE will meanwhile become the dominant mobile access technology by the end of this year. But after reaching a peak in 2021, subscriptions are expected to drop off slightly as they are supplanted by 5G.

Global LTE subscribers are tipped to reach an estimated 5.5 billion subscriptions by the end of 2023, with a global LTE population coverage of 85%.

VoLTE subscriptions are also expected to reach 5.5 billion by end-2023, accounting for more than 80% of combined LTE and 5G subscriptions.

The report also projects that global mobile data traffic will pass 100 exabytes per month in 2023, the equivalent of 5.5 million years of HD video streaming.


  • 5G will cover more than 20 percent of the global population six years from now, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report
  • Mobile data traffic continues to grow, primarily fueled by increased viewing of video content
  • LTE will be the dominant access technology by end of this year, driven by demand for improved user experience and faster networks

“The latest report highlights trends in mobile subscription and data traffic growth, as well as the industry’s effort to tackle the increasing demands on mobile networks globally,” Ericsson chief strategy officer and head of technology and emerging business Niklas Heuveldop said.

“In addition, the report examines the emergence of new use cases as network capabilities evolve – smartwatches, IoT alarms, and augmented reality-assisted maintenance and repair, to name a few. As we prepare for 5G, these trends will continue to set the agenda for the mobile industry going forward.”


2 thoughts on “Ericsson Forecast: 1 Billion Global 5G Subscriptions in 2023

  1. TBR perspective:
    Ericsson is increasingly clear-eyed on the challenges the (telecom/network equipment) industry faces and the work the company must do to adapt its goals and organization to overcome present and future obstacles. The company anticipates revenue of SEK 190 billion to SEK 200 billion (or $23.4 billion to $24.6 billion) in 2020, down from a projected SEK 203 billion (or $25 billion) in 2017, according to TBR estimates. TBR believes Ericsson will hit the low end of those expectations, at best, as the radio access networking (RAN) market continues to decline until 2020, when 5G will lead to incremental growth; the company exits contracts in noncore areas such as Industry & Society; and the Media business is divested. While TBR agrees margins will recover, we believe they will likely fall slightly short of Ericsson’s 2020 targets of a gross margin of 37% to 39% and an adjusted operating margin of at least 10%. A gross margin of 34% to 36% is within reach with implementation of a restructuring plan that is more accelerated and further reaching (in headcount reduction) than has been articulated.
    Ericsson is taking positive steps by embracing a product-led rather than services-led strategy, moving away from the Media business and reining in its enterprise ambitions. Removing the limbs of ancillary businesses will enable the company to refocus investment around its core engineering lifeblood, mobile broadband technology. Unfortunately, spend on this technology is declining and Ericsson’s sales are closely aligned with the wireless broadband market. 5G is likely to contribute less to vendor top lines than previous wireless generations, but even before communications service providers (CSPs) invest significant capex in 5G, they are reducing volume purchases of hardware and driving prices lower as these products become more commoditized.
    The company will mitigate some of this decline by helping marquee customers roll out 5G fixed wireless, primarily in developed markets in Europe and the U.S., where legacy copper piping remains in heavy use. China is unlikely to give much of a lift to the 5G fixed wireless market, as the government has mandated that fiber be laid to all buildings, and Japan and South Korea have already been fiberized.
    Ericsson will also benefit from its leadership in software-mediated technologies, such as SDN and NFV. The company is perceived favorably by its addressable market in this area and continues to drive its NFV infrastructure (NFVI) and management and orchestration offerings to move up the stack. Software-mediated technologies present their own set of challenges, however, as they shrink the spend pie from which Ericsson and other vendors eat. CSPs will increasingly adopt commercial off-the-shelf architectures, which drives Ericsson to innovate in software, especially in its Digital Services unit, which encompasses OSS/BSS, IoT, cloud and IT initiatives.

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