Ericsson has released the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report on the company’s network traffic insights and forecasts.

According to the report, North America is forecasted to lead the world in 5G subscription penetration in the next five years with nine-of-every-ten subscriptions in the region expected to be 5G by 2027. The report also predicts that current global 5G subscriptions will pass the one billion milestone by the end of 2022.

The 2027 timeline also includes projections that 5G will account for 82 per cent of subscriptions in Western Europe, 80 per cent in the Gulf Cooperation Council region and 74 per cent in North-East Asia.

In India, where 5G deployments have yet to begin, 5G is expected to account for nearly 40 per cent of all subscriptions by 2027. 56 per cent of total mobile data traffic in India region will be carried by 5G networks in 2027.

The report further reveals that global mobile network data traffic doubled in the past two years.  This traffic growth was driven by increased smartphone and mobile broadband usage, as well as the digitalisation of society and industries. The recent statistics and forecasts highlight the strong demand data connectivity and digital services have, and are expected to have, despite the global Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties. Several hundred million people are becoming new mobile broadband subscribers every year. 5G is forecasted to account for almost half of all subscriptions by 2027, topping 4.4 billion subscriptions.

Additionally, the report verifies that 5G is scaling faster than all previous mobile technology generations. About a quarter of the world’s population currently has access to 5G coverage. Some 70 million 5G subscriptions were added during the first quarter of 2022 alone. By 2027, about three-quarters of the world’s population will be able to access 5G and 60 per cent of global mobile network data traffic is expected to be over 5G networks by 2027.

Commenting on the report, Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and Head of Networks, Ericsson, said, “The latest Ericsson Mobility Report confirms 5G as the fastest growing mobile technology generation ever, and Ericsson is playing a key role in making it happen. We work every day with our customers and ecosystem partners around the world to ensure that millions more people, enterprises, industries, and societies enjoy the benefits of 5G connectivity as soon as possible.”

The report also highlights the increasingly important role that fixed wireless access (FWA) is playing in the delivery of broadband services. Ericsson predicts that the number of FWA connections will exceed 100 million in 2022, a figure that is forecasted to more than double by 2027, reaching almost 230 million.

On the internet of things (IoT), the report notes that in 2021, broadband IoT (4G/5G) overtook 2G and 3G as the technology that connects the largest share of all cellular IoT connected devices, accounting for 44 per cent of all connections. Massive IoT technologies (NB-IoT, Cat-M) increased by almost 80 per cent during 2021, reaching close to 330 million connections. The number of IoT devices connected by these technologies is expected to overtake 2G/3G in 2023.

Further, as per the report, mobile broadband is the foundation on which the government’s “Digital India” initiative will be realised in India. Mobile networks in India continue to play a pivotal role in driving social and economic inclusion, as service providers in India prepare to launch 5G this year. 4G is the dominant subscription type driving connectivity growth in India. While 4G contributes around 68 per cent of the total mobile subscriptions in India, its contribution is expected to drop to 55 per cent in 2027. 4G subscriptions are forecasted to decline annually to an estimated 700 million subscriptions in 2027 as subscribers migrate to 5G post introduction of 5G in India. Commercial launches of 5G networks are planned for the second half of 2022 in India, with enhanced mobile broadband expected to be the initial main use case. 5G will represent around 39 per cent of mobile subscriptions in the region at the end of 2027, with about 500 million subscriptions.

Meanwhile, Dr Thiaw Seng Ng, Head of Network Evolution, SEA, Oceania and India, Ericsson, said, “Total mobile data traffic in the India region is estimated to grow by a factor of 4 between 2021 and 2027. This is driven by high growth in the number of smartphone users and an increase in average usage per smartphone.” The average data traffic per smartphone in the India region is the second-highest globally. It is projected to grow from 20GB per month in 2021 to around 50GB per month in 2027 – a CAGR of 16 per cent.

In addition, a new study from research consultancy Omdia sponsored by Ericsson notes that more than half (52 per cent) of Indian enterprises want to start using 5G within the next 12 months. A further 31 per cent expect to use 5G by 2024.

As per the Omdia report, the 326 business executives surveyed across a range of industries believe 5G is a critical technology enabling their digital transformation. The top-ranked benefits of 5G are superior network performance enabling automation and new ways of working.

The study further highlights that quality of experience rather than price drives customers to buy 5G, changing the competitive dynamics of India’s telecoms market. The top 5G use cases that enterprises identify are enhanced content streaming, real-time video analytics and control of autonomous vehicles and drones.

India is already seeing rising ownership of smartphones that support 5G. Drawing on global 5G market experience, the Omdia study adds that service providers in India also need a balanced portfolio of spectrum assets to deliver 5G services that consumers and enterprises will buy. These include low-band spectrum for coverage, mmWave for capacity, and mid-band for a mix of both.

Additionally, the study predicts that 5G rollout will differ profoundly from 4G. 5G offers more service options and use cases. Globally, public 5G and 5G FWA are the most widespread 5G services today among consumers and businesses.

Galvanised by their pandemic experiences, enterprises are accelerating their digital transformation ambitions and business leaders consider 5G among the top technologies that can drive their organisation’s digital transformation.