2022 is forecast to be a banner year for 5G, with mobile connections set to break the 1 billion mark as deployments accelerate and devices become more affordable.
In the latest edition of its Global Mobile Economy Report, the GSMA stated 176 mobile operators in 70 markets had launched commercial 5G services at end-2021, accounting for 20 per cent of the total number of operators globally.
It predicted growth will continue in the period to end-2025. In addition to the greater availability of services and more-affordable devices, the GSMA noted a broad recovery from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic as a key driver.
Operators are also upping their game in terms of promoting 5G services, the GSMA noted.
The association stated 5G was now mainstream in early-mover markets including China, South Korea and the US. This is tipped to translate into at least 33 per cent of mobile connections in each country having access to the technology by end-2022.
But there is also growing momentum elsewhere: the GSMA cited a fresh wave of 5G deployments in Brazil, Indonesia and India as examples, noting this could create a virtuous circle by incentivising mass-production of more affordable devices which would open the technology to lower-income users.
By the end of the forecast period, the GSMA expects a quarter of all mobile connections to be on 5G. It explained there is already a gradual reduction in adoption of 4G services, predicting the technology’s share of global connections to decline from a peak of 58 per cent at end-2021 to 55 per cent by the close of 2025.
The rise of 5G does not spell the end of 4G though, with the GSMA noting developing markets remain a key opportunity for the previous-generation technology.