According to the latest report from Ericsson, 5G will grow to encompass over a billion subscriptions by 2023, led by efforts in the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and China. At that point, around half of Americans are expected to have access to the next-generation networking technology and the figure will account for around 12-percent of all mobile connections. The numbers fall relatively in-line with the spread of 4G LTE, which Ericsson says will grow by around 12-percent and reach approximately 60-percent of cellular network users. That's equal to around 5.5-billion connections on those networks, which will form the backbone over which 5G mobile connectivity is built. Tying directly into those numbers, Smartphone subscriptions are expected to continue growing by around 9-percent to land at 7.17-billion subs, followed closely by mobile broadband subscriptions at 8-percent and 8.33-billion subscriptions. Mobile PC, tablet, and mobile router subscriptions are expected to rise by 4-percent to land at 320 million. On the other hand, GSM/EDGE and WCDMA/HSPA subscriptions could fall by as much as 23-percent and 5-percent, respectively.
Beyond 5G and at least partially making use of the technology, Ericsson further estimates that around 3.5-billion cellular IoT connections will be made over the course of the next five years. That's based on an annual 30-percent growth rate over the next five years, while short-range IoT devices and wide-area devices are expected to grow by 17-percent and 30-percent respectively. That's hardly surprising, given the rapid expansion of the industry over the past year but North-East Asia and Western Europe will continue to be global leaders in the use of the technology. Mobile phones, by comparison, are only expected to grow at around 2-percent during the time leading up to 2023.
The expansion of 5G and IoT will likely feed off of one another over the next five years since many IoT-related technologies, such as self-driving cars, will depend on 5G's low latency and high speeds to some degree. So Ericsson's predictive analysis doesn't stray too far from the predictions that have been made by other analysts over the past several months. 5G deployment is expected to start at some point in 2018 and moving into early 2019, as more devices ship with the components required to access the proper frequency bands. For now, Ericsson says that ensuring that the appropriate spectrum across each band – including low, mid and high bands – is going to be essential to achieving its predicted growth.