Research: 5G Subs Are Spiking and Should Top 580 Million in 2021

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden—New research from Ericsson finds that 5G is on track to become the fastest adopted generation of mobile technologies in history, with 5G subs set to top 580 million by the end of 2021 and growing to 3.5 billion around the world in 2026.

By 2026 there will be about 380 million 5G subs in North America accounting for about 84% of all mobile subs in North America. 

Currently 5G operators around the world are adding about 1 million new 5G subs a day. 

The new projections are noteworthy for the media and entertainment industries not only because the fast 5G networks will provide new ways of delivering content to consumers, making mobile devices an even more important platform for video delivery. 

Ericsson is also predicting that global mobile traffic will grow from more than 49 exabyte (EB) per month at the end of the 2020 to about 237 EB per month in 2026, a trend that will have a major impact on the networks cable operators and telcos currently use to deliver data and video. 

Smartphones, which currently carry 95 percent of the mobile traffic, will also be consuming more data than ever. Globally, the average usage-per-smartphone now exceeds 10 GB/month and is forecast to reach 35 GB/month by the end of 2026, according to Ericsson. 

The projections, which come from the annual “Ericsson Mobility Report” also indicate that the rapid development of 5G networks will fuel an explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) that could have a major impact on the media landscape and the delivery of video. 

The Mobility Report noted that IoT technology (NB-IoT and Cat-M) connections are forecast to increase by almost 80 percent during 2021, reaching almost 330 million connections. In 2026, these technologies are forecast to comprise 46 percent of all cellular IoT connections.

The full report is available here

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.