Global 5G market advanced to 1.6 billion users.

For literally decades, I have been relying on the annual statistical reports on the global telecommunications market published by telecommunications giant Ericsson. The reports from the 1980s and 1990s primarily focused on telephone statistics, and over time, they expanded to include broadband and mobile data. However, due to the privatisation of telecommunication services, not all countries continued to provide reliable statistics to Ericsson. Consequently, these invaluable reports, which were a crucial resource for researchers like me, were discontinued.

Nevertheless, owing to Ericsson’s leading position in the mobile market, they initiated a new annual statistical report that exclusively concentrates on developments within the mobile sector. In this regard, they recently released their 2023 reports, once again filled with intriguing statistical data. Here are the highlights of the latest report, titled: Ericsson Mobility Report

The robust growth of 5G technology continued in 2023, with approximately 610 million new 5G users, showcasing a significant increase of 63% compared to the previous year. This growth surpassed initial expectations by around 100 million. Despite economic challenges and geopolitical uncertainties in various markets, the resilience of 5G user adoption remained evident, pointing towards the enduring demand for high-speed connectivity.

Since the commercialisation of 5G, the market has witnessed the launch of over 1,000 smartphone models. In 2023 alone, more than 240 new models entered the market, with 5G smartphones constituting a substantial 62% of total smartphone shipments. This marked an increase from 57% in 2022, underscoring the accelerating adoption of 5G-enabled devices.

Looking ahead, the Ericsson Mobile Trend Report projects a remarkable trajectory for 5G user growth. Over the six-year period from the end of 2023 to the end of 2029, the global 5G user count is estimated to surge from 1.6 billion to an impressive 5.3 billion. This projection indicates an extraordinary growth rate of over 330%, signalling the continued evolution and integration of 5G technology into the global telecommunications landscape.

Remarkably, the growth of 5G subscriptions is not confined to a specific region but is a global phenomenon, with numbers steadily rising in every part of the world. Despite challenges in the smartphone market, the allure of high-speed, low-latency connectivity offered by 5G remains irresistible to consumers and businesses alike.

Fuelling this surge is the continuous climb in mobile network data traffic. The demand for seamless connectivity and high data transfer speeds has led to an upward trajectory in data usage across mobile networks. While the growth rate in percentage terms may have dipped slightly, the actual data traffic continues to rise, underscoring the increasing reliance on mobile networks for various applications and services.

Navigating the digital landscape, a significant milestone is on the horizon—5G is poised to account for a substantial 25% of mobile data traffic this year. This not only showcases the rapid integration of 5G into our daily digital interactions but also signals a paradigm shift in the way we consume and rely on mobile data services.

Examining the dynamics of uplink traffic, it becomes evident that communication and cloud-storage services dominate this space. The uplink aspect, often overlooked, plays a pivotal role in facilitating real-time communication, collaborative endeavours, and the seamless integration of cloud-based applications.

Service providers are capitalising on the expansive capacity of 5G by incorporating it into mobile service packages. This strategic move allows them to offer enhanced connectivity and data transfer capabilities, further solidifying the position of 5G as a cornerstone in the evolving landscape of mobile telecommunications.

Beyond individual subscriptions, the realm of Cellular IoT (Internet of Things) is experiencing its own surge. Projections suggest that by 2023, Cellular IoT connections will reach an impressive 3 billion, signalling a rapid integration of IoT devices into the fabric of our interconnected world. The introduction of new technologies expands the possibilities for Broadband IoT, opening new avenues for innovation and connectivity.

Moreover, the rise of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services is undeniable. Service provider adoption of 5G FWA has reached a notable 50%, underlining the growing preference for high-speed, reliable wireless connectivity in both urban and rural areas.

In terms of coverage, 5G mid-band technology has made significant strides, reaching 30% population coverage by the end of 2023. This indicates the ongoing efforts to bring the advantages of 5G beyond urban centres, ensuring a more inclusive and comprehensive network experience for users globally.

Paul Budde

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