The GSMA's in-house "The Mobile Economy Report," published in March, reckoned that one in every five mobile connections will be 5G by 2025.
CCS Insight begs to differ, and by a fair margin.
In what it called an "upgraded forecast," the research firm thinks one in every four mobile connections will be 5G by that time.
CCS Insight thought that COVID-19 will inflict some near-term and "moderate" delays in adoption, but that the longer-term prospects for the next-gen tech – helped by "accelerating momentum" in China and competitively priced handsets – were now better than it previously expected.
The 5G connection forecast is now more than 1 billion by 2022, followed by an anticipated large jump to 3.2 billion by the end of 2025. CCS Insight expects that the global mobile phone market will make a "full recovery" by 2022, with shipment numbers exceeding those in 2019.
"The arrival of new chipsets and fierce competition in the shrinking global mobile phone market will lead to a quick introduction of 5G in more moderately priced smartphones in 2020," said Marina Koytcheva, CCS Insight's vice president of forecasting. "We're going to see prices of supporting devices tumble below $400 faster than previously expected, a trend that will be instrumental in 5G becoming more accessible to a much wider demographic."
China will be an engine room for boosting 5G adoption. The research firm now expects nearly 100 million 5G connections in the country at the end of this year, rising to more than 1 billion in 2024.
"Strong desire from local operators to make up for delays caused by COVID-19 in the first quarter, combined with enthusiastic support from the government, wide availability of more affordable 5G handsets and the unrelenting ambition of local network equipment and handset manufacturer Huawei, will spur demand," said Kester Mann, director of CCS Insight's consumer and connectivity research.
About four in every ten handsets bought in China are currently 5G-enabled, with total 5G device sales apparently on track to exceed 100 million in 2020. China is aiming to deploy 1 million 5G basestations before the end of this year.
The 5G outlook isn't entirely sunny. 5G adoption across Industrial Internet of Things and smart cities will stall, according to CCS Insight, as governments and businesses – with China a notable exception – "focus on shorter-term priorities."
CCS Insight expects 270 million IoT devices will be connected to 5G networks worldwide by 2025.
— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading