5G will have the fastest global rollout of any generational mobile technology to date, according to the Ericsson 2018 Mobility Report, with subscriptions expected to reach 1.5 billion and networks covering 40 per cent of the world’s population by 2024.
The first 5G network has gone live in the US, with Verizon offering Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband to a number of major cities, but other operators in North America, in Europe and in Asia are gearing up for launches in the next few months.
Ericsson predicts a “strong” line-up of 5G devices by the second quarter of 2019, with smartphones to become more advanced and power efficient thanks to the arrival of second-generation chipsets later in the year.
“As 5G now hits the market, its coverage build-out and uptake in subscriptions are projected to be faster than for previous generations,” said Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericcson. “At the same time, cellular IoT continues to grow strongly. What we are seeing is the start of fundamental changes that will impact not just the consumer market but many industries.”
However Ericsson, which will compete with Nokia, Huawei and Samsung to supply networking equipment to 5G operators, also echoed warnings that Europe risks falling behind.
It says that intense competition and regulation means that just 29 per cent of the continent will have adopted 5G by 2024, compared with 43 per cent in Japan, South Korea and China, and 55 per cent in the US.
The report says that these challenges must be solved soon, or European operators will miss out the efficiency gains and revenue opportunities afforded by 5G technology. 5G networks will offer faster speeds, greater capacity and ultra-low latency, enabling enhanced mobile broadband and a raft of new industrial applications.
This comes at a time when mobile data consumption has risen 79 per cent year on year – the fastest growth rate since 2013 – and total subscriptions have reached 7.9 billion. Increased data demand can largely be attributed to Chinese users and the popularity of online video, which now makes up 60 per cent of all traffic. That figure is expected to rise to 74 per cent by 2024.