Ericsson Forecast: 5G Rollout Will Set New Record for Speed

According to an Ericsson Mobility report, 5G will have the fastest rollout in mobile history, achieving mass market status in 2020 and available in 40 percent of the world by 2024. As a provider of 5G infrastructure hardware, Ericsson is well positioned to make this prediction, although it tempered its own enthusiasm by warning that, “many challenges lie ahead.” Ericsson based its forecast on the fact that manufacturers are building 5G chips and devices and consumer anticipation for 5G is higher than previous generations.

VentureBeat reports that, because fixed 5G hardware is already available, with mobile solutions coming soon, Ericsson “predicts that there will be at least 10 smartphones with 5G by the end of 2019, with most launching around April, and others following in June or July … trailed by a handful of 5G-capable PCs and industrial solutions.”

The predictions don’t stop there: Ericsson says the 5G market in the U.S. will be dominated by “devices using radio frequencies under 6GHz,” the so-called mid-band frequency, rather than the high-band mmWave frequency. With regard to low-band devices, Ericsson believes there will “only be one or two” such 5G devices, “such as smartphones developed specifically for T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum” by end of 2019.

The manufacture of 5G devices, it added, will “depend on the release of second-generation 5G chipsets,” expected to rollout in 2019, that offer “reasonable power consumption and performance in smartphones, laptops, and industrial devices.” In 2020, the third-generation 5G chipsets are likely to appear, and Ericsson predicts that, “a large number of 5G devices will be available for purchase,” marking mass-market adoption.

The report adds that, “by 2024 … 5G will be thoroughly established worldwide,” including 55 percent of all mobile subscriptions in North America and 43 percent in Northeast Asia (primarily South Korea, Japan, and China). Europe, on the other hand, will likely achieve 30 percent 5G services, still more than the 10 percent rates for central and Eastern Europe. The move to 5G will lag behind for Latin America (where 5G will begin availability in 2020) and Southeast Asia/Oceania (in 2021).

Despite predictions of fast adoption, Ericsson also reports that it “expects 15 billion mobile 5G broadband subscriptions worldwide, equal to around 17 percent of all mobile subscriptions.” In contrast, LTE is expected to have 5.4 billion subscribers in 2024, “equaling 60 percent of all mobile subscriptions.”

In other words, 4G “will continue to grow in the developing world as 5G advances in developed countries.” Growth in 5G is largely tied to an increased appetite for data; Ericsson said the average smartphone in 2024 “will be using over 21GB of data per month, up around four times 2018 levels.”