Mobile Subscriptions Outlook

In the Ericsson Mobility Report June 2017, we explore how mobile broadband is driving subscription growth across all regions.

Key highlights

  • 3X growth in mobile broadband subscriptions in Middle East and Africa between 2016 and 2022
  • 25% of  mobile subscriptions in North America and 10% in Asia Pacific will be for 5G in 2022
  • Mobile broadband subscriptions make up between 50 and 85% of all mobile subscriptions in 5 out of 6 regions today

The number of mobile subscriptions continues to grow across the regions, fueled by a strong uptake in mobile broadband.1 AsAs shown in the graph at the bottom of this page, mobile broadband subscriptions make up between 50 and 85 percent of all mobile subscriptions in 5 out of 6 regions. Many consumers in developing markets first experience the internet through mobile networks on a smartphone.

In Middle East and Africa, where the penetration of mobile broadband is currently lower than in other regions, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions is expected to increase significantly. Driving factors include a growing young population and more affordable smartphones.  In mature markets, mobile broadband subscription growth is largely due to individuals connecting more devices.

Graph: Mobile broadband subscriptions by region

Vast regional variations as networks evolve

Over the forecast period, Middle East and Africa will dramatically shift from a region with a majority of GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions, to a region where 80 percent of the subscriptions will be WCDMA/HSPA and LTE. However, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions will still account for a significant share of subscriptions by 2022.

In Latin America, WCDMA/HSPA and LTE already account for around 65 percent of all mobile subscriptions – a number that is expected to increase to 95 percent in 2022.

Asia Pacific is a diverse region. In China, the ongoing deployment of LTE is expected to result in more than 1.3 billion LTE subscriptions by the end of 2022, making up around 80 percent of all mobile subscriptions. Across the entire region, however, LTE will represent just 55 percent of all mobile subscriptions by the end of the same period. 5G will account for around 10 percent of the region’s subscriptions in 2022, with deployments starting in South Korea, Japan and China. All three countries will host international sporting events in the coming six years, and intend to launch 5G services in conjunction with the events.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the share of LTE subscriptions is anticipated to grow significantly; from around 15 percent at the end of 2016, to 70 percent in 2022.

25% of subscriptions in North America and 10% in Asia Pacific will be for 5G in 2022

At 85 percent, the share of mobile broadband subscriptions in Western Europe is high due to well-developed WCDMA/HSPA networks and early LTE rollout. In 2022, the regional share of 5G subscriptions is expected to be 5 percent.

Overall, North America has the highest share of LTE subscriptions because of rapid migration from CDMA and WCDMA/HSPA-based networks. This trend is set to continue with 5G, as leading operators in the region have stated their intention to expand into pre-standardized 5G already in 2017. As such, the region will have the highest share of 5G subscriptions in 2022 at 25 percent.

Graph: Mobile subscriptions by region and technology percent

1 Mobile broadband includes radio access technologies HSPA (3G), LTE (4G), 5G, CDMA2000 EV-DO, TD-SCDMA and Mobile WiMAX Note: WCDMA without HSPA and GPRS/EDGE (2G) are not included