Ericsson Mobility Report: 5G forecast increased due to China uptake (?)

According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, there are signs of an acceleration in 5G deployments.  Ericsson estimates that by the end of this year, more than 1 billion people – or 15 percent of the world’s population – will live in an area with 5G coverage. This is expected to reach 60 percent in 2026, when there will be an estimated 3.5 billion 5G users in the world.

Ericsson raised its year-end 2020 estimate for global 5G subscriptions to 220 million, due mainly to faster take-up in China [1.]. More than one in ten Chinese mobile subscribers are expected to use 5G by year-end, and they will account for almost 80 percent of all 5G users in the world (175 mln). The growth in China is driven by a national strategic focus, intense competition between service providers, as well as increasingly affordable 5G smartphones from several vendors, Ericsson said.

Note 1.  We have argued for quite some time that China government numbers on 5G (and everything else) can’t be trusted.

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North America is the second-largest market for 5G, says Ericsson, with an estimated 4 percent of subscribers using 5G by the end of 2020. Commercialization there is now moving at a rapid pace and by 2026, Ericsson forecasts that 80 percent of North American mobile subscriptions will be 5G, the highest level of any region in the world.

Europe is seeing a slower roll-out of 5G, due in part to delays in spectrum auctions earlier this year. Ericsson predicts the region will end 2020 with about 1 percent of mobile users on 5G subscriptions.

The report further looks at some of the emerging 5G applications, such as cloud gaming and mission critical IoT, which covers real time-sensitive services (e.g. ultra low latency).  However, that won’t happen unless URLCC is completed specified/performance texted in 3GPP Release 16 and then implemented.

The Ericsson report has this to say about cellular networks and public safety:

“2020 has also proven to be an exceptional year for cellular networks used for public safety applications. Together with AT&T, we have looked into how FirstNet – the nationwide network deployed to serve first responders in the US – stood up to the test of this year’s emergencies related to the pandemic, one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, and severe wildfires.   As society rapidly changes, it is clear that cellular networks are a critical infrastructure that will continue to support many aspects of our everyday life.”

Ericsson also found that almost two-thirds of 5G operators are offering some form of fixed-wireless access (FWA) service. The company forecasts FWA connections to grow more than threefold and reach more than 180 million by the end of 2026, accounting for about a quarter of total mobile network data traffic.

Editor’s Note:

A very interesting point is that 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), which is not even an IMT 2020 Use Case, is being deployed and gaining market traction (along with 4G FWA).   The report states that FWA connections will more than threefold by the end of 2026, reaching over 180 million.  That service is forecast to account for ~25 percent of total mobile network data traffic globally.

Check out the following two FWA related graphs from the report:

Ericsson Mobility report: FWA

Some of the topics covered in the report include:

  • Time-critical communications with 5G
  • Mobile cloud gaming – an evolving business opportunity
  • Service provider strategies ( three alternative paths to success)
  • But the big numbers are still important, So what’s happening with  global mobile network growth, 5G in particular?
  • 5G’s population coverage is projected to hit 15 per cent this year – over 1 billion people (that’s covered, not all connected)
  • 5G’s subscription total will be 3.5 billion in 2026 with 220 million 5G subs expected by the end of this year
  • There are around 7.9 billion mobile subscriptions now but this will increase to 8.8 billion by the end of 2026, and 91 percent of those  will be for mobile broadband.
  • Smartphones account for about 75 per cent of all mobile phone subscriptions
  • Cellular IoT has not followed through on all those early, but wildly optimistic projections for cellular IoT. In 2026, NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are expected to make up just 45 percent of all cellular IoT connections.
  • North East Asia leads in cellular IoT connections (China, South Korea and at the end of 2020 is expected to account for 64 per cent of all cellular IoT connections, a figure set to increase to 69 percent by 2026.

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References:

https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report/reports/november-2020

https://www.ericsson.com/4adc87/assets/local/mobility-report/documents/2020/november-2020-ericsson-mobility-report.pdf

https://www.telecomtv.com/content/5g/ericsson-mobility-report-5g-is-here-and-happening-40337/

3 thoughts on “Ericsson Mobility Report: 5G forecast increased due to China uptake (?)

  1. 5G forecast should be focused on how many critical 5G use cases are being developed and how those use cases benefit industry and society. Adding 5G cellular devices, without support for important use cases (e.g. URLLC), does not change the tech landscape.

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