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More than 1 billion people will have access to 5G coverage by the end of 2020 globally

  • Pace of introducing new 5G functionality has increased in 2020 in both the network and device domains, despite uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions forecast by the end of 2026 - estimated to account for more than 50 percent of mobile data traffic at that time
  • In India, 5G subscriptions to surpass 350 million, accounting for 27 percent of all mobile subscriptions in 2026
  • India has the highest average traffic per smartphone user per month at 15.7GB per month
Press release
Nov 30, 2020
Access to 5G coverage

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) projects that four out of every ten mobile subscriptions in 2026 will be 5G. This forecast is included in the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. Current 5G uptake in subscriptions and population coverage confirms the technology as deploying the fastest of any generation of mobile connectivity.

The report estimates that by the end of 2020, more than 1 billion people – 15 percent of the world’s population – will live in an area that has 5G coverage rolled out. In 2026, 60 percent of the world’s population will have access to 5G coverage, with 5G subscriptions forecast to reach 3.5 billion.Ericsson has raised its year-end 2020 estimate for global 5G subscriptions to 220 million, as service providers continue to build out their networks.

Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson, says: "This year has seen society take a big leap towards digitalization. The pandemic has highlighted the impact connectivity has on our lives and has acted as a catalyst for rapid change, which is also clearly visible in this latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report."

"5G is entering the next phase, when new devices and applications make the most out of the benefits it provides, while service providers continue to build out 5G. Mobile networks are a critical infrastructure for many aspects of everyday life, and 5G will be key to future economic prosperity."

5G will represent around 27 percent of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2026, estimated at about 350 million subscriptions. LTE will continue to be the dominant technology in India in 2026 accounting for 63% of mobile subscriptions. Mobile broadband technologies accounted for 67 percent of mobile subscriptions in 2020, and this figure is predicted to reach 91 percent by 2026, when the total number of mobile broadband subscriptions is set to reach close to 1.2 billion.

In the India region, the average monthly mobile data usage per smartphone continues to show robust growth, boosted by the rapid adoption of 4G and people working from home during COVID-19. The reliance of people on their mobile networks to stay connected as well as work from home during COVID-19 has contributed to the average traffic per smartphone user increasing from 13.5GB per month in 2019 to 15.7GB per month in 2020.The average traffic per smartphone is expected to further increase to around 37GB per month in 2026.

States Patrik Cerwall, Head of Strategic Marketing Insights and Editor of Ericsson Mobility Report, "Low prices for mobile broadband services, affordable smartphones and increased time spent by people online all contribute to monthly usage growth in India. Accordingly, total traffic is projected to quadruple in India, reaching 35EB per month in 2026."

Momentum continues in the build-out of 4G (LTE) networks in India and globally. Global 4G population coverage will be over 80 percent at the end of 2020 and is forecast to reach around 95 percent in 2026. 4G networks are also evolving to deliver increased network capacity and faster data speeds.

The Ericsson Mobility report also highlights why 5G success will not be limited to coverage or subscription numbers alone. Its value will also be determined by new use cases and applications, the first of which have already started to emerge.

Critical IoT, intended for time-critical applications that demand data delivery within a specified time duration, will be introduced in 5G networks. This will enable a wide range of time-critical services for consumers, enterprises and public institutions across various sectors, with 5G public and dedicated networks.

Cloud gaming is another emerging application category. The combined capabilities provided by 5G networks and edge compute technologies will enable game streaming services on smartphones to compete with a quality of experience (QoE) that is on par with PC or console counterparts, opening up for innovative, immersive games based on mobility.

According to the new Harnessing the 5G Consumer Potential report from Ericsson, communication service providers in South East Asia, India and Oceania, could earn USD 297 bn in 5G-enabled consumer revenues by 2030. 5G broadband services market will be worth nearly $229bn by 2030. While eMBB will make up 91% of 5G broadband revenue by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 134%, the 5G-FWA market will be worth over $5.4bn by 2030 with 89 million subscriptions by 2030. 79% of the total service provider 5G digital services revenue, estimated at 7.5B USD by 2030, will be driven by enhanced video and HiFi music. 5G digital services include video, music, gaming, augmented/virtual reality and consumer IoT services.

According to Ericsson's Capturing business opportunities beyond mobile broadband report, 5G business potential industry revenues for Indian operators stands at USD 17 Bn by 2030, with the Manufacturing sector (USD3.74 Bn), Energy and utilities sector (USD 2.57Bn) and Agriculture sector(USD 1.5 Bn) being the biggest contributors respectively.

States Nitin Bansal, Head of Network Solutions for the Market Area South east Asia, Oceania and India, "5G has the potential to transform industries and society at large – with use cases such as smart manufacturing, smart cities and advanced healthcare applications, just to mention a few. As the technology proliferates, early movers stand to benefit by gaining the right experience and creating new use cases of relevance to their business. The companies and countries taking an active role in shaping and securing the 5G ecosystem in the early years have great potential to lead use case scaling once the market takes off."

5G functionality grows in both the network and device domains

The rate of introducing 5G New Radio (NR) functionality is increasing, with more than 150 5G device models launched commercially. Many devices support 5G frequency division duplex (FDD) and dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). The first 5G standalone (SA) networks have been launched in Asia and North America, as well as the first devices capable of NR carrier aggregation.

FWA offered by more service providers

With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating digitalization as well as increasing the importance and need for fast and reliable home broadband connectivity, the number of service providers offering fixed wireless access (FWA) is on the rise. Almost two thirds of service providers now have an FWA offering. FWA connections are forecast 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.

Download the November 2020 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.

Related links:

Ericsson Mobility Report
Connectivity in a COVID-19 world (Ericsson ConsumerLab study)
Ericsson’s publicly announced 5G contracts
Ericsson 5G
Find out more about Ericsson’s 4G and 5G Fixed Wireless Access.

Download the Harnessing the 5G Consumer Potential report.
Webinar: register and join us for the related November 18 Harnessing the 5G Consumer Potential webinar.

Related links:

Ericsson ConsumerLab: The Voice of the Consumer
Ericsson: 5G for Consumers
Ericsson Mobility Report: June 2020
Ericsson ConsumerLab: 10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030
Ericsson ConsumerLab: 5G Consumer Potential 2019
Ericsson 5G



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