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5G subscriptions worldwide have surpassed 1 billion

240 telcos worldwide now offer commercial 5G services, 40% offer fixed wireless access (Graphic: CC0 Public Domain; this image is generated by AI)

Despite geopolitical challenges and macroeconomic slowdowns in some markets, the global rollout of 5G technology continues unabated. The number of subscriptions has already crossed the one billion mark.

5G subscriptions are increasing in every region of the world, found this year’s edition of Ericsson’s annual mobility report, published in June 2023. The analysis predicts they will reach 1.5 billion by the end of 2023. Global data traffic on mobile networks also continues to grow. Monthly global smartphone consumption is expected to exceed 20 GB by the end of 2023.

Top 5G services

The study notes that globally, around 240 communications service providers (CSPs) have already launched commercial 5G services. About 35 have implemented or launched independent 5G (SA). The most common 5G services launched by service providers to consumers are enhanced mobile broadband access (eMBB), fixed wireless access (FWA), gaming and some augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) based services such as education and education.

The report also reveals that 5G continues to drive ingenuity in combining mobile services. Among CSPs, it is increasingly common practice to offer bundles with various popular entertainment services such as television, music streaming or cloud gaming platforms included. About 58% of 5G service providers currently do this in various forms.

Exploding markets

From a regional perspective, 5G penetration in North America is believed to be stronger than expected in previous forecasts. At the end of 2022, it had the highest 5G subscription penetration globally at 41%.

However, India is the star of the report. After the launch of 5G services in August 2022, the Indian market of 5G is the arena of large-scale deployments under the ‘Digital India’ initiative. 5G subscriptions in India reached around 10 million at the end of 2022. They will account for around 57% of mobile subscriptions in the country by the end of 2028, making it the fastest growing 5G region globally.

Fixed wireless access

More than 100 providers, or about 40% of fixed wireless access service providers, currently offer FWA on 5G. Fixed wireless access is a service that will grow steadily with the number of mobile service providers offering this convenience. By 2028, 5G is projected to account for almost 80% of all FWA connections.

Midrange 5G

However, the study notes that the deployment of 5G networks in the medium frequency spectrum – offering high capacity and good coverage for a superior user experience – remains limited to around 25% of locations worldwide with 4G coverage. In this case North America is leading and Europe is lagging behind.

As data traffic on the global mobile network continues to grow, smart infrastructure upgrades become imperative, the report says. Managing this growth while simultaneously improving the mobile user experience requires continuous web development. In this context, the construction of 5G in the medium frequency band turns out to be the solution with the best energy efficiency and profitability compared to the expansion of 4G networks.

Challenges

The report highlights trends expected to be challenged by the onslaught of the next wave of 5G applications. New models will be needed to evaluate the quality of experience (QoE) of mobile services and promote the design of networks to meet future needs for higher performance.

As the use of AR services for mobile devices increases, mobile networks must be prepared for the increased performance requirements. This can be done primarily by adding new spectrum and new functionality to existing facilities.

The bill

Revenue growth in leading 5G markets continues to be significant. “Global deployment of 5G technology has surpassed one billion subscriptions, bringing positive revenue growth for communications service providers in leading 5G markets,” said Ericsson Executive Vice President Fredrik Jejling.

“We see a strong correlation between the increase in 5G subscriptions and service revenues,” he added. “In the last two years, the introduction of 5G services in the top-20 markets brought a 7% increase in revenue. This trend shows the increasing value of 5G, benefiting both consumers and providers.”

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