Global 5G subscription rates to hit 1.9bn by 2024

19 Jun 2019

Image: © Fokussiert/

The latest edition of the Ericsson mobility report has estimated that 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9bn by the end of 2024.

The telecoms industry is abuzz with talk of the ‘5G race’, focusing on how the next generation of cellular network technology – and the breakneck speeds some of its proponents are promising – will change our society.

A report released this month by Ericsson has calculated that 5G smartphone subscriptions will reach more than 10m by the end of 2019, being almost entirely concentrated in the Asia Pacific region. However, as more countries begin to roll out the necessary infrastructure, estimates are that this figure will balloon in the next two to three years.

Recent speculation about Apple’s impending release calculates that the smartphone giant will not roll out 5G to all of its models until 2021 and it won’t have its own in-house chip until 2022, which some commentators argued constitutes it being slightly late to the party. Yet if these latest estimations are anything to go by, Apple will be launching just as the technology begins to truly take off around the world.

“On a global level, 5G network deployments are expected to ramp up during 2020, creating the foundation for massive adoption of 5G subscriptions. Most new subscribers will be users trading up their 4G handsets to 5G-compatible devices following services launching in their market,” the Ericsson report explains. “By the end of the period, it is also likely that many young users in mature markets will get a 5G smartphone as their first device.”

The report further adds that given the momentum of the market, it has increased its forecast of the number of 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband up to 1.9bn by the end of 2024.

That being said, by the end of 2024 4G mobile (LTE) subscriptions will still dominate the global market, with total global subscriptions for mobile technology as a whole set to reach 8.8bn.

The report estimates that 5G will begin to dominate many regional markets, most notably North America, where the rate of subscription will reach 63pc in 2024. As of this year, it is not available on the North American market, and LTE mobiles compose 87pc of subscriptions.

In north-east Asia, this next-generation technology is estimated to make up 47pc of the mobile market by 2024, while it will constitute 40pc of the western European market.

Updated, 2.09pm, 19 June 2019: This article was amended to clarify the Ericsson prediction that 5G smartphone subscriptions will reach more than 10m by the end of 2019, not 11m.

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic