2019 has been hailed by many in the tech industry as the year of 5G, with many telecoms companies rushing to roll out 5G infrastructure in some form. Recently, AT&T switched on its 5GE, which the company describes as its first step toward rolling out a 5G service, and just yesterday, Three announced that it would be launching its first 5G service in the UK in August.
Although it remains to be seen when early adopters of the technology will reap the benefits 5G has promised, one company that is certainly singing its praises is Ericsson, with the company predicting that 5G will have a notable impact on “Smart cities, Industrial IoT, augmented reality, autonomous transport and digital health”.
According to the 2019 Ericsson Mobility Report, the “rapid early momentum and enthusiasm for 5G” has caused the company to ramp up its 5G predictions, forecasting an extra 400 million enhanced mobile broadband subscriptions globally by the end of 2024.
Smartphones for all main spectrum bands are set to come to market over the course of this year and as more 5G networks go live, over 10 million 5G subscriptions are projected worldwide by the end of 2019 thanks to “rapid 5G uptake”.
5G uptake will be quicker than expected
Although 5G will be available in some form during this year and the next, the Swedish telecoms company has forecast that 2024 will be when the technology begins to have a significant global impact.
5G subscriptions are now expected to reach 1.9 billion in 2024, up from 1.5 billion forecasted in the November 2018 edition, an increase of almost 27%, while service providers in some markets are setting “more ambitious targets” in terms of coverage.
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Coverage is forecast to reach 45% of the world’s population by the end of 2024, as operators roll out deployments and users switch to 5G devices, equivalent to 35% of global mobile traffic being carried by 5G networks. This is in part due to a significant increase in total mobile data traffic globally, which was up 82% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019.
However, according to PCMag, 5G subscriptions look unlikely to overtake 4G at least in the near future, with 4G subscriptions predicted to reach 7.2bn in 2024.
The uptake of 5G subscriptions is expected to be fastest in North America, with 63% of mobile subscriptions in the region predicted to be for 5G in 2024. North East Asia follows at 47% and Europe is in third place at 40%.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson believes that although 5G is predicted to take off rapidly over the next few years, this is dependent on a “solid ecosystem”:
“5G is definitely taking off and at a rapid pace. This reflects the service providers’ and consumers’ enthusiasm for the technology. 5G will have positive impact on people’s lives and businesses, realising gains beyond the IoT and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, the full benefits of 5G can only be reaped with the establishment of a solid ecosystem in which technology, regulatory, security, and industry partners all have a part to play.”