China, North America and the Gulf Cooperation Council markets are leading the way on subscriber numbers, while Europe is off to a slow start
5G subscriptions with a 5G-capable device grew by 70 million during the first quarter of 2021 and are forecast to reach 580 million by the end of 2021
Ericsson projects that 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million by the end of 2021, driven by an estimated one million new 5G mobile subscriptions every day.
The forecast, which features in the twentieth edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, enhances the expectation that 5G will become the fastest adopted mobile generation. About 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions and 60 percent 5G population coverage are forecast by the end of 2026.
However, the pace of adoption varies widely by region. Europe is off to a slower start and has continued to fall far behind China, the U.S., Korea, Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets in the pace of 5G deployments.
5G is expected to surpass a billion subscriptions two years ahead of the 4G LTE timeline for the same milestone.
Key factors behind that include China’s earlier commitment to 5G and the earlier availability and increasing affordability of commercial 5G devices. More than 300 5G smartphone models have already been announced or launched commercially.
This commercial 5G momentum is expected to continue in coming years, spurred by the enhanced role of connectivity as a key component of post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
North East Asia is expected to account for the largest share of 5G subscriptions by 2026, with an estimated 1.4 billion 5G subscriptions.
While North American and GCC markets are expected to account for the highest 5G subscription penetration, with 5G mobile subscriptions comprising 84 percent and 73 percent of all regional mobile subscriptions respectively.
The Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Fredrik Jejdling, Ericsson, says: “This landmark twentieth edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report shows that we are in the next phase of 5G, with accelerating roll-outs and coverage expansion in pioneer markets such as China, the USA and South Korea. Now is the time for advanced use cases to start materializing and deliver on the promise of 5G. Businesses and societies are also preparing for a post-pandemic world, with 5G-powered digitalization playing a critical role.”