Ericsson estimates that there will be more than one billion 5G mobile subscriptions by the end of the year, a figure that will reach 4.400 billion by 2027.
Ericsson's annual Mobility Report (opens in a new tab) said that 5G is evolving faster than any previous generation of mobile technology, with a quarter of the world's population now having access to it. By 2027, that figure will have risen to three-quarters, which will help explain the rapid rate of adoption.
Within five years, 5G will account for 90% of all mobile subscriptions in North America, 82% in Western Europe, and 74% in Northeast Asia. In India, where rollout has yet to begin, analysts expect uptake to be 40%, highlighting the pace of expansion.
But availability is only part of the equation. The report found that the volume of global mobile traffic has doubled in the past two years, with improvements in network infrastructure and the broader digitization of society, accelerated by the pandemic, driving consumption.
The report also notes that 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) will reach 100 million subscriptions by 2022 and 230 million by 2027, with 4G and 5G replacing older 2G and 3G standards in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.
"Ericsson's latest mobility report confirms that 5G is the fastest growing generation of mobile technology in history, and Ericsson is playing a key role in delivering it," said Fredrik Jejdling, Network Director at Ericsson.
"We work with our customers and ecosystem partners around the world every day to ensure that millions of people, businesses, industries and societies experience the benefits of 5G connectivity as soon as possible."
Ericsson's forecast is broadly in line with a more optimistic recent analysis by CCS Insight which said there would be 1.200bn subscriptions by the end of 2022 and 4.500bn by 2026.
"Despite the founding years of 5G clouded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the problems it has created, the market is in a stronger position as we enter the second half of 2022," said James Manning Smith, analyst CCS Insight main.
“The world still faces a bleak geopolitical and macroeconomic outlook in 2022, coupled with supply chain challenges. But the transition of mobile subscribers to 5G networks is expected to progress well, with 5G connections expected to almost double this year to reach 1200 billion.