Global 5G subscriptions forecast to hit 2.6bn by end of 2025

26 Nov 2019

The Samsung Galaxy S10, one of the first commercially available smartphones with 5G compatibility. Image: © saiko3p/

As momentum of 5G uptake increases, the Ericsson Mobility Report estimates that 5G will handle 45pc of global mobile data traffic by the end of 2025.

On Monday (25 November), the latest Ericsson Mobility Report was published, predicting that 5G subscriptions will top 2.6bn by the end of 2025.

The six-year forecast, presented in the November 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, is driven by sustained momentum in this sector and a rapidly developing 5G ecosystem. In a report earlier this year, the telecoms company forecast that 5G subscriptions were set to reach 1.9bn by the end of 2024.

In the latest report, Ericsson also predicted that 5G will cover up to 65pc of the world’s population by the end of 2025 and handle 45pc of global mobile data traffic.

The report also noted that monthly data-traffic-per-smartphone is forecast to increase from the current figure of 7.2GB by the end of 2025, as consumer behaviour changes and services such as virtual reality (VR) streaming and video game streaming become more popular.

Uptake so far

Many communications service providers in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and North America switched on their 5G networks this year. South Korea has already seen a significant 5G uptake since 5G was launched there in April – more than 3m subscriptions were collectively recorded by the country’s service providers by the end of September.

China’s launch of 5G in late October has also led to an update of the estimated figure for global 5G subscriptions for the end of 2019, increasing from 10m to 13m.

Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice-president and head of networks at Ericsson, said: “It is encouraging to see that 5G now has broad support from almost all device makers. In 2020, 5G-compatible devices will enter the volume market, which will scale up 5G adoption.

“The question is no longer if, but how quickly we can convert use cases into relevant applications for consumers and enterprises. With 4G remaining a strong connectivity enabler in many parts of the world, modernising networks is also key to this technological change we’re going through.”

Given the existing momentum, 5G subscription uptake is expected to be significantly faster than that of LTE (long-term evolution).

The most rapid uptake is expected in North America, with 74pc of mobile subscriptions in the region forecast to be 5G by the end of 2025. North-east Asia follows at 56pc, with Europe just behind at 55pc.

Additionally, the Ericsson Mobility Report noted that the total number of cellular IoT connections expected at the end of 2019 is 1.3bn. By the end of 2025, this figure is expected to climb to 5bn.

The report also took an in-depth look at service providers’ tariff plans, revealing that most service providers who have launched 5G have priced 5G packages around 20pc higher than their nearest available 4G offering.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic