In its latest Mobility Report, the operator said that China, the US, and the Gulf Cooperation Council are driving adoption, leaving Europe trailing

Particularly at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, there was concerns that 5G rollouts would face significant delays, curbing the predicted surge in 5G adoption. However, in many markets this proved not to be the case, with China and the US notably broadly expanding their 5G coverage throughout the year. 

Now, in its latest Mobility Report, Ericsson is forecasting that there will be 580 million 5G subscribers by the end of the year, driven by an estimated one million new subscribers arriving every day.

If that was not enough, the report goes on to suggest that the number of subscriptions will continue to surge, with 3.5 billion expected by the end of 2026, along with 60% 5G population coverage worldwide. 

“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,” said Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson. “Now is the time for advanced use cases to start materialising and deliver on the promise of 5G. Businesses and societies are also preparing for a post-pandemic world, with 5G-powered digitalisation playing a critical role.”  

This explosion in 5G adoption will make it the fastest adopted mobile technology ever, far exceeding 4G LTE’s uptake rate over the same period of time. Part of this is due to the price of 5G-capable devices falling quickly, as well as markets like China embarking on a rollout at a massive scale; of the 3.5 billion subscriptions expected by 2026, 1.4 billion of these are expected to come from Northeast Asia.

In fact, it is China, the US, Korea, Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council markets that are leading the way for 5G adoption, while Europe finds itself lagging behind its international competitors. This is due, at least in part, to delays to spectrum auctions in various European markets. The report seems to suggest that Europe has been overly reliant on dynamic spectrum sharing for its 5G rollouts and is not investing heavily enough in making use of mid-band spectrum, instead focussing on low-band in most instances. 

Clearly, Europe’s strategy towards 5G needs to change if it hopes to become a frontrunner in the latest mobile technology,

Of course, 5G is not just about coverage and uptake, but about data consumption. As the world grows ever more digital, global data consumption will continue to rise almost exponentially, increasing from 49 exabytes at the end of 2020 to 237 exabytes by 2026. Individual data consumption will soar in the same period, rising from 10GB to 35GB during the same period. Smartphones, unsurprisingly, are set to carry around 95% of this traffic.

Naturally, it is in Ericsson’s interest to be positive about 5G’s future in the coming decade, but even excusing these inherent biases, the report clearly demonstrates the global appetite for 5G and portrays the industry as one united in making a 5G future a reality as soon as possible.  


Are we realising 5G’s full potential? How is the new technology changing operator strategies? Find out what the experts think at this year’s live Total Telecom Congress

Also in the news:
KT cruises with 5G-powered autonomous ship
Verizon builds out gaming partnerships at E3 address
Iran set to renationalise nation’s fixed infrastructure