Ericsson paints 5G by numbers

Ericsson has released the latest edition of its Mobility Report which describes an interesting picture of how 5G is rolling out, and how it will develop over the next 5 years. In essence, it is set to be an Asian phenomenon.

In 2021 Europe continues to trail behind China, Korea, Japan, the US and the GCC countries of the Middle East when it comes to the percentage of subscribers using 5G (subscriber penetration).

In 2020, 9% of subscribers in North East Asia – which includes the telecoms powerhouses of Japan, Korea and China – were using 5G compared to 4% in North America, 2% in the GCC states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, and 1% in Western Europe.

Ericsson’s forecast shows that by 2026 penetration in North America (84%), the GCC (73%) and Western Europe (69%) will have risen substantially. However, the devil is always in the detail. In terms of the proportion of subscribers using 5G, these three will win out. But, of course, that is not the whole story.

RegionPopulation 20205G Penetration 2026 (%)Ericsson forecast
North America370 million84%360 million
GCC55 million73%62 million
Western Europe197 million69%136 million**
North East Asia*1.7 billion65%1.4 billion
India1.4 billion26%330 million

*It is not altogether clear where Russia is being included – whether as a North East Asian country or a Central and Eastern European country. With 144 million people it arguably should have a category of its own. If included in NE Asia the total population is closer to 1.85 billion.

** Calculated based on 2020 population numbers (figure not provided by Ericsson)

Ericsson forecasts 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions by 2026, of which 2.1 billion will be in North East Asia, South East Asia and Oceania, or India. With most of the world’s 5G handset manufacturers, and the majority of the world’s 5G subscribers, by 2026 the inescapable conclusion is that 5G will still be largely an Asian phenomenon.