In 2025 there will be 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, including 7.4 billion smartphones. With only 13 million 5G subscriptions at the end of 2019, mostly in China and South Korea, Ericsson forecasts that by the end of 2025 there will be 2.6 billion, with networks covering 65% of the world population, carrying 45% of mobile data traffic. That would make it the fastest developing mobile communication technology ever to have been rolled out globally.

4G LTE will nevertheless remain the dominant mobile access technology, peaking at 5.4 billion subscriptions in 2022 but declining to 4.8 billion in 2025, as 5G takes off to account for 29% of mobile subscriptions by then.

Ericsson mobile subscriber forecast. Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2019.

Around 50 service providers around the world have announced commercial 5G service launches. Deployments are expected to ramp up during 2020.

5G device volumes in 2020 are projected to reach 160 million units, with China expected to massively deploy 5G coverage.

The total number of mobile subscriptions was around 8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, with 61 million subscriptions added during the quarter.

Subscriptions associated with smartphones account for more than 70 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions.

Mobile subscriptions exceed the population in many countries, which is largely due to inactive subscriptions, multiple device ownership and use of different subscriptions for different types of calls. There are consequently around 5.9 billion subscribers globally.

Mobile data traffic grew 68 percent over the year to the third quarter of 2019. It is expected to grow by 27 percent annually between 2019 and 2025, driven largely by the viewing of video, which is expected to grow from 63% of traffic to 76% by 2025.

The Ericsson Mobility Report is available from the Ericsson web site.