Despite a weaker economy and geopolitical uncertainties, service providers continue to deploy 5G, with 228 having already launched commercial 5G services globally. Deployment of 5G standalone (SA) networks also continues, with around 35 service providers having deployed or launched 5G SA in public networks.
The most common 5G services launched by service providers for consumers are enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), gaming and some AR/VR-based services.
Strong 5G subscription growth
5G subscriptions2 grew by 110 million during the third quarter to around 870 million, and that number is expected to reach 1 billion devices from several vendors, with prices falling faster than for 4G, and China’s large, early 5G deployments. 5G will become the dominant mobile access technology by subscriptions in 2027.
Subscriptions for 4G continue to increase, growing by 41 million during Q3 2022 to around 5 billion. 4G subscriptions are projected to peak at 5.2 billion by the end of 2022, then decline to around 3.6 billion by the end of 2028 as subscribers migrate to 5G. During the quarter, 3G subscriptions declined by 41 million, while GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions dropped by 44 million and other technologies decreased by about 6 million.
During the quarter, China had the most net additions (+15 million), followed by Nigeria (+5 million) and Indonesia (+4 million). by the end of 2022. North America and North East Asia are expected to have the highest 5G subscription penetration by the end of 2022 at around 35 percent, followed by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries at 20 percent and Western Europe at 11 percent. In 2028, it is projected that North America will have the highest 5G penetration at 91 percent, followed by Western Europe at 88 percent.
By the end of 2028, 5 billion 5G subscriptions are forecast globally, accounting for 55 percent of all mobile subscriptions. 5G subscription uptake is faster than that of 4G following its launch in 2009, with 5G expected to reach 1 billion subscriptions 2 years sooner than 4G. Key factors include the timely availability of obile broadband dominates mobile subscriptions
Around 8.4 billion mobile subscriptions are estimated by the end of 2022, and this figure is projected to increase to around 9.2 billion by the end of 2028. During this time, the share of mobile broadband subscriptions will increase from 85 to 93 percent, while the number of unique mobile subscribers is projected to grow from 6.1 to 6.8 billion.
Subscriptions associated with smartphones continue to rise. At the end of 2022, 6.6 billion smartphone subscriptions are estimated, accounting for about 79 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions. This is forecast to reach 7.8 billion in 2028, accounting for around 84 percent of all mobile subscriptions.
The FWA connection forecast has been increased in anticipation of strong growth of 19 percent annually through 2028, reflecting accelerated FWA plans in India. Subscriptions for mobile PCs, tablets and routers are expected to show moderate growth, reaching around 680 million in 2028. Subscriptions for fixed broadband are expected to grow by around 4 percent annually
As per the report, 5G comes at a premium when compared to the 4G network in markets like Europe. Around 25 per cent of network providers charge a premium of around 40 per cent for the 5G network, which does impact the 5G adaptation rate.
This is a non-issue in the US as most 5G providers offer unlimited plans that cost $60 per month. However, some brands do keep a faster 5G network (mmWave) under an additional premium paywall, which might cost around $85 a month that offers faster download and upload speeds with no data cap.
Coming to India, Jio is offering free unlimited 5G network access in select cities across the country. Similarly, Airtel is offering 5G internet access for the cost of a 4G network in India. Both companies are expected to launch dedicated 5G plans with increased data caps in the coming months, which are likely to be on the premium side when compared to the 4G data plans.