By Supantha Mukherjee
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson said on Tuesday it expects global 5G mobile subscriptions to surpass 1 billion in 2022, helped by higher adoption in China and North America.
A weaker global economy and the uncertainties caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine lowered its estimate for 2022 by around 100 million, the company said in its biannual Mobility Report.
Ericsson, which competes with China‘s Huaweiand Finland’s Nokia, is a leading supplier of mobile gear, including 5G.
While 5G subscriptions grew by 70 million during the first quarter to around 620 million, 4G subscribers grew by 70 million to around to 4.9 billion.
The 5G, or fifth-generation, networks offer much higher speeds than the previous generation, promising to connect machines in a way that can enable futuristic features such as autonomous driving.
5G subscriptions are estimated to reach 4.4 billion in 2027.
The growth in 4G users is expected to peak this year and then decline as subscribers migrate to 5G, the report said. Ericsson had earlier expected 4G subscriptions to peak last year.
With 5G subscribers reaching 1 billion this year, it would reach the mark two years sooner than 4G, which achieved 1 billion subscribers 10 years after its launch.
A push from telecom operators to bring 5G and handset prices as low as $120 has helped 5G adoption, Peter Jonsson, executive editor of the report, said in an interview. “China added about 270 million users in 2021 compared to North America, which added 65 million.”
India, which is in the process of auctioning 5G airwaves, is expected to add to subscriber growth from later this year.
“We expect about 30 million 5G subscribers in India in 2022 and around 50 million in 2023,” Jonsson said.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)