New research from Ericsson expects 5G smartphone subscriptions to reach one billion by the end of 2022, with carriers driving adoption despite geopolitical and economic uncertainty.
In 2028, the number of 5G subscriptions will pass five billion Ericsson’s report (opens in new tab)accounting for more than half (55%) of all mobile subscriptions.
Globally, the number of 5G subscriptions is reported to have grown by 110 million to around 870 million in Q3 2022.
Where is the growth of 5G?
Emerging economies will become some of the biggest drivers of growth. China had the most net additions to the 5G user base in Q3 2022 with 15 million, followed by Nigeria with five million and then Indonesia with four million.
5G has already been adopted by many countries around the world, but in frontier markets the share of users is much higher – in the US, for example, it has already reached 80% of the country.
North America is expected to have the highest 5G penetration by 2028 with 91% of the population, followed by Western Europe with 88%.
How does this compare to 4G?
The adoption of 5G is much faster than what 4G has done in the same time. It took 4G seven years to reach one billion subscribers in 2016, following its launch in 2009.
Ericsson attributed this performance to the rapid rollout of devices from various vendors, which may have led to prices falling faster than in the case of 4G, as well as China’s “large, early 5G deployments”.
However, the demand for 4G is still very much alive. Subscriptions continue to increase, growing by 41 million in the third quarter of 2022 to about five billion, according to the report.
However, the number of 4G subscriptions is expected to peak at 5.2 billion by the end of 2022, before falling to around 3.6 billion by the end of 2028, “as subscribers migrate to 5G”.
The demand for 3G, which started way back in 2001, seems to be on its last legs – the number of 3G subscriptions fell by 41 million in the last quarter alone.