In its new Mobility Report, Ericsson has updated its forecast for 5G subscribers at the end of 2021, to a total of close to 660 million. The increase is due to stronger-than-expected demand in China and North America (?), driven in part by falling prices for 5G devices. Ericsson forecasts 5G to become the dominant mobile technology by 2027.
Opinion: For that to happen, this author believes many of the unfinished parts of 5G must be completely standardized and proven in the field. That list includes: URLLC in the RAN, URLLC in the core network, 5G SA core network, 5G security, reduction of very high 5G power consumption, deployment of hundreds of thousands of small cells, frequency arrangements for terrestrial (ITU-R M.1036 revision), industrial and consumer use cases, fiber optics and LEO satellite backhaul, etc.
In Q3 2021, nearly twice as many 5G subscriptions were added around the world as new 4G connections, at respectively 98 million and 48 million. Ericsson expects that 5G networks will cover more than 2 billion people by the end of this year.
Ericsson’s latest forecasts put 5G on track to become the dominant mobile access technology by 2027. 5G is expected to account for around 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2027, covering 75 percent of the world’s population and carrying 62 percent of the global smartphone traffic by the same date.
Not to be forgotten, Ericsson says fixed wireless access (FWA) will provide broadband access for 800 million people by 2027.
Ericsson’s latest report also looks back on the past ten years of mobile networks. According to the research, around 5.5 billion smartphone users have joined the market in the past ten years, and mobile data traffic has increased almost 300-fold in the same period.
In Q3 2021 alone, there was more mobile data traffic than the entire period up until the end of 2016.
Note that Ericsson has tended to over-estimate total mobile subscriptions but under-estimate the uptake of newer technologies, especially in their early stages. This is shown in the table below:
Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Networks at Ericsson, wrote:
“Mobile communication has had an incredible impact on society and business over the last ten years. When we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will be more integral than ever to how we interact, live and work. Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the pace of change is accelerating, with technology playing a crucial role.”