More than half of North America's mobile subscriptions will be 5G in 2024: Ericsson

The Swedish equipment maker also forecasts that 45% of the world's population will have 5G coverage by 2024.

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North America will lead the adoption of 5G, with 63% of its mobile subscriptions expected to be 5G-based in 2024, according to Ericsson's latest mobility report.

This is followed by North East Asia at 47% and Western Europe at 40%.

The Ericsson Mobility Report June 2019, which provides projections for the telco industry, also predicts there will be 1.9 billion 5G mobile subscriptions by the end of 2024, with 5G networks to carry 35% of mobile data traffic globally.

The report also expects that by 2024, 45% of the world's population will have 5G coverage -- inclusive of both home broadband and mobile subscriptions. This number could surge to 65% as spectrum sharing technology allows for 5G deployments on LTE frequency bands, Ericsson said.

In Q1 2019, there are currently around 7.9 billion mobile subscriptions, up 2% year-on-year from the corresponding period.

China gained the most mobile subscriptions over the past quarter, adding 30 million subscribers. This was followed by Nigeria at 5 million and the Philippines at 4 million.

Meanwhile, the number of mobile subscriptions in India declined by 14 million, with Ericsson attributing the drop to the introduction of a minimum regular recharge amount by a number of telcos to increase average revenue per user.

Mobile broadband subscriptions grew at 15% year-on-year globally, Ericsson said, increasing by 140 million compared to the year prior. The total of mobile broadband subscriptions in Q1 2019 is 6 billion, equating to around 76% of mobile subscriptions.

The number of LTE subscriptions increased by 160 million during the quarter to reach a total of 3.7 billion, resulting in LTE accounting for 47% of all mobile subscriptions globally.

The number of mobile subscriptions exceeded the population in many countries due to inactive subscriptions, multiple device ownership, or optimisation of subscriptions for different types of calls. As a result, the number of mobile subscribers is lower than the number of mobile subscriptions with there currently being around 5.7 billion subscribers globally compared to 7.9 billion subscriptions.

See: How 5G network builders are competing with Huawei in Asia

In Q1 2019, mobile data traffic grew 82% year-on-year.

"The high growth rate was mainly influenced by the increased number of smartphone subscriptions in India and increased data traffic per smartphone per month in China," Ericsson said.

Mobile data traffic is expected to grow 30% annually between 2018 and 2024, with video traffic expected to see the most growth. Ericsson forecasts that video traffic in mobile networks will grow by around 34% annually up to 2024 due to users spending more time streaming and sharing video. It will account for nearly three-quarters of mobile data traffic, compared to 60% in 2018.

Social media data traffic is also expected to increase 22% during the 2018-2024 time frame. However, its data traffic share is expected to decline from 11% in 2018 to 8% in 2024 because of the stronger growth of video.

The uptake of 5G is slowly ramping up, with South Korea, the US, and the UK having already rolled out 5G networks.

Last week, China issued 5G licences to local telcos to being preparations for the next-generation networks while Russia has inked a deal to use Huawei's telco equipment for its 5G deployment.

"5G licensing will be a significant boost to the domestic economy, as it will drive the transformation and upgrading of the real economy, promote the application of 5G to various fields including manufacturing and agriculture, and boost digital economic growth," said Wang Zhiqin, who heads the IMT2020 (5G) Promotion Group, established by the MIIT to drive 5G development in China. 

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