Global analyst company, CCS Insight, has released a new 5G forecast, which predicts that despite the ongoing pandemic, connections to 5G networks worldwide will triple this year to 670 million and remain on track to reach 3.6 billion in 2025.
"Although our near-term expectations have been dented, we remain optimistic that the global mobile industry will overcome these temporary challenges and will achieve 3.6 billion 5G connections worldwide in 2025," stated Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at CCS Insight.
Balancing out the effect of sluggish developments last year, strong 5G adoption is expected in the next 18 to 24 months. The macroeconomic recovery will see accelerating network deployments and plummeting prices of 5G phones combine, with a greater appreciation for high-quality connectivity among consumers and businesses, in the wake of the pandemic.
5G to become mainstream
The forecast predicts that by the middle of the decade, more than 75% of mobile phones in the advanced markets of North America, Western Europe and Asia–Pacific will have transitioned to 5G networks. Accelerating network rollouts, affordable 5G phones and consumer’s thirst for connectivity are all to play a part in this transition. "In some pioneering countries, 5G is on the verge of hitting the mass market", says Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight.
CCS Insight noted that South Korea and China continue to stand out for their excellent speed of 5G deployment. A fifth of mobile phones in South Korea are on 5G networks already and China is on course to achieve this milestone in 2021. Indeed, the pace of 5G adoption in China is astonishing, with seven out of 10 smartphones sold in the first quarter of the year featuring 5G capabilities.
The US, who was the first to launch 5G but then promoted it only tentatively for almost two years, has now seen a real push from the carriers in the last six months, particularly since 5G-capable iPhones became available. “It's thanks to this push that the country will regain its status of a 5G front runner in 2021,” stated CCS Insight.
It was noted by CCS Insight that 5G progress in Western Europe has been mixed. “Delays to spectrum auctions during the pandemic have held up network deployment in some markets such as France, and government posturing over the role afforded to Huawei has brought uncertainty,” the company stated. More positively however, these delays were not as lengthy as many feared, and some operators have moved quickly to sign agreements with alternative providers of network infrastructure.
CCS Insight said that 5G growth won't be confined to the most advanced markets in the next five years, even if less developed economies are slower to launch 5G, as they continue to reap the benefits of 4G. The company used India as an example, where fierce competition between mobile operators and ambitions for homegrown solutions have the potential to lead the adoption of 5G.
5G phones to cost as little as $150
"We have to give a nod to the role that smartphone-makers are playing in getting 5G handsets into people's hands, with prices set to drop as low as $150 in 2022", says Koytcheva. Although the global mobile phone market suffered a significant blow by the pandemic and shrank by 13% in 2020 and it’s growth is predicted to remain sluggish in 2021 at just 6%, suppressed by volatile demand and short supply of major components, the 5G segment is set to flourish. Excitingly, one in three mobile phones sold worldwide in 2021 will feature 5G.
The CCS Insight forecast is part of a broader suite of research and includes consumer surveys, regular reports and updates on the latest announcements, events and news.