Ericsson sees 5G subscriptions passing the 1 billion mark this year, in spite of turmoil caused by macroeconomic factors and the Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
The figures reflect strong demand for wireless broadband connectivity and are boosted by higher adoption in North America and China, Ericsson said in its biannual Mobility Report.
The company said it revised its projections downward by about 100 million due to economic and other factors.
It said 5G subscriptions grew by 70 million in the first quarter to about 620 million, while 4G subscriptions grew by roughly the same 70 million to 4.9 billion.
The growth in 4G users is expected to peak this year and then decline as the technology cedes ground to 5G.
Ericsson previously said it expected 4G to peak last year.
If 5G reaches the 1 billion mark this year it would reach the milestone two years earlier than 4G, which took 10 years after launch to reach 1 billion subscribers.
Faster adoption was boosted by operators reducing 5G handset prices to as low as $120 (£98), said Peter Jonsson, executive editor of the report.
He said service providers are preparing to offer innovative features beyond faster mobile broadband, backed up by “a solid digital network infrastructure”.
Ericsson forecasts 5G to account for half of all mobile subscriptions by 2027, with more than 4.4 billion subscriptions.
The company believes in North America the tech will account for nine of every ten mobile subscriptions in 2027, while in Western Europe the figure will be 82 percent and 74 percent in North-East Asia.
In India, where 5G spectrum is currently being auctioned and deployments haven’t yet begun, the company sees 5G accounting for 40 percent of subscriptions by 2027.
Ericsson sees India deploying about 30 million 5G subscribers by the end of this year and an additional 50 million next year.
China added about 270 million 5G users last year, with North America adding about 65 million, Jonsson said.
In addition to faster speeds, 5G networks are expected to offer specialised features for technologies such as autonomous vehicles.
Ericsson and Oppo this week said they had demonstrated a key customisation technology called network slicing in laboratory conditions, and are working toward commercialising it.
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