Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) expects the global number of 5G subscriptions to top 2.6 billion within the next six years. The forecast is included in the November 2019 edition of the Ericson Mobility Report, among other forecasts with an end-of-2025 timeline.
Average monthly data-traffic-per-smartphone is forecast to increase from the current figure of 7.2 GB to 24 GB by the end of 2025, in part driven by new consumer behavior, such as virtual reality (VR) streaming.
The report also projects that 5G will cover up to 65% of the global population by the end of 2025 and handle 45% of global mobile data traffic.
2019 saw communications service providers in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America launch 5G service. South Korea has already seen a big 5G uptake since its April launch. More than 3 million 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 5G subscriptions for the end of 2019, from 10 million to 13 million.
Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of networks, 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, modernizing networks is also key to this technological change we're going through."
5G subscription uptake is expected to be faster than that of LTE. The most rapid uptake is expected in North America with 74% of mobile subscriptions in the region forecast to be 5G by the end of 2025. North East Asia is expected to follow at 56%, with Europe at 55%.
Other forecasts include: total number of cellular IoT connections now seen at 5 billion by the end of 2025 from 1.3 billion by the end of 2019 - a compound annual growth rate of 25%. NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are estimated to account for 52% of such cellular IoT connections in 2025.
Year-on-year traffic growth for the third quarter of 2019 remained high at 68%, driven by the growing number of smartphone subscriptions in India, the increased monthly data traffic per smartphone in China, better device capabilities, an increase in data-intensive content, and more affordable data plans.