5G mobile subscriptions are growing in every region and are forecast to increase by half a billion in a year to pass 1.5 billion by the end of 2023. Around 240 communications service providers worldwide have launched commercial 5G services and about 35 have deployed standalone 5G services. Global mobile network data traffic is continuing to rise, with the monthly global average usage per smartphone expected to exceed 20 gigabytes by the end of 2023.

The latest figures come in the Ericsson Mobility Report. At the end of 2022 there were 8.26 billion mobile subscriptions globally, including 6.42 billion smartphone subscriptions. The number is forecast to rise to 9.10 billion by the end of 2028, of which 7.74 will be smartphone subscriptions, with the growth coming from 5G services, with 4.62 billion subscriptions.

In comparison, the number of fixed broadband connections is expected to rise by just 350 million, between to 2022 and 2028, to a total of 1.8 billion.

The report reveals that it is increasingly common for communications service providers to offer bundles with various popular entertainment services included such as television, music streaming or cloud gaming platforms. Almost six out of ten 5G service providers currently do this in various forms.

Mobile network traffic has almost doubled in two years, driven by rising smartphone subscriptions and increasing average data volume per subscription, fuelled primarily by increased viewing of video.

A tenth of users generate 70% of the traffic on mobile networks. In North America, users consuming over 20 gigabytes of data a month represented around 15% of all users but generated 80% of total traffic. A similar pattern was found in Europe, where light users consuming less than 5 gigabytes per month make of 63% of all users.

Video accounts for over 60% of total traffic in the networks surveyed. Social media makes up most of the mobile video traffic, with comparatively little from subscription video on demand services like Netflix.

North America has the highest 5G subscription penetration, at over 40%, compared to 13% in Western Europe. North America is projected to have the highest 5G penetration in 2028 at 91%, followed by Western Europe at 88%.

India in particular is a growth market. 5G subscriptions are expected to reach 700 million and are estimated to account for 57 percent of mobile subscriptions in the region by the end of 2028. 4G subscriptions are forecast to decline from 820 million in 2022 to 500 million by then, while total smartphone subscriptions in India are projected to reach over 1.14 billion by 2028, of which an estimated 700 million will be 5G.

The global 5G subscription forecast has been adjusted to consider delayed spectrum auctions in several countries and continued difficult macroeconomic conditions. 5G subscriptions are now forecast to reach 4.6 billion globally by the end of 2028, making up more than 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions. 5G will become the dominant mobile access technology by subscriptions in 2028.

The Ericsson Mobility Report provides a wealth of data about mobile network usage worldwide with a five-year forecast. It is available from the Ericsson web site.