5G and Beyond

Ericsson cranks up 5G forecast (again)

It's that time of year again. Ericsson's latest bi-monthly Mobility Report, stuffed full of market predictions, is now ready to view.

5G, however, is clearly a moving target when it comes to forecasts. Ericsson reckons there'll be some 220 million 5G subscriptions around the world by the end of this year, up from the 190 million it was projecting in its June 2020 report.

The Swedish supplier's previous global estimate for 5G subscriptions was a comparatively meager 100 million by the end of 2020.

The latest upwardly revised projection, said Ericsson, was mainly due to a faster uptake in China than previously expected, "driven by a national strategic focus, intense competition between service providers and more affordable 5G smartphones from several vendors."

Moreover, by the end of this year, Ericsson thinks over 1 billion people – or 15% of the world's population – will live in 5G coverage areas.

Regional swings

Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Ericsson notes – citing figures from the Global mobile Suppliers Association – that more than 100 service providers have now announced commercial 5G service launches.

While North East Asia is currently home to the majority of 5G subscriptions, Ericsson expects that North America, by the end of 2026, will be the region with the highest share (80%).

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At that time, the Swedish supplier estimates there'll be more than 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide, accounting for more than half of all mobile data traffic.

LTE, predicted Ericsson, will reach its subscription peak in 2021 (4.8 billion) and then decline to around 3.9 billion by the end of 2026 as more subscribers migrate to 5G.

Fast forward FWA

Fixed wireless access (FWA) demand and supply is also on the rise, which, claims Ericsson, is often the quickest way for service providers to offer "fast and reliable home broadband connectivity."

In October 2020, Ericsson updated its study of FWA retail packages offered by service providers worldwide. Out of the 311 service providers studied, 200 had an FWA offering, which represents an average of 64%.

Service providers' adoption of FWA offerings has doubled since the first measurements in December 2018 compared to October 2020.

Ericsson expects FWA connections to grow more than threefold, reaching more than 180 million by the end of 2026. By that time, said Ericsson, FWA will account for a quarter of all mobile network data traffic.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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