Ericsson believes 5G adoption will be more rapid than previously thought, with the early arrival of networks and strong support from hardware vendors and component manufacturers helping to accelerate subscriber numbers.
The Swedish network equipment manufacturer predicts there will be 1.9 billion 5G subscribers by 2024 – 400 million than its previous estimate last year.
Immediate take-up will be relatively low, however, with just ten million 5G users by the end of 2019.
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Commercial networks are currently available in the US, Asia and Europe – including the UK. Ericsson believes that 5G coverage will reach 45 per cent of the world’s population within five years, a figure that could increase to 65 per cent if operators harness new technologies like spectrum sharing.
This allows operators to transmit 4G and 5G signals using the same frequencies.
“5G is definitely taking off and at a rapid pace,” declared Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Networks at Ericsson. “This reflects the service providers’ and consumers’ enthusiasm for the technology. 5G will have positive impact on people’s lives and businesses, realizing gains beyond the IoT and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, the full benefits of 5G can only be reaped with the establishment of a solid ecosystem in which technology, regulatory, security, and industry partners all have a part to play.”
Within five years, it is thought that a third of all mobile data will be transmitted via 5G, but LTE will remain the dominant radio technology for some time. Indeed, the rollout of 5G networks will actually enhance 4G services as they provide the foundation for next-generation infrastructure.
Unsurprisingly, data traffic continues to grow. Traffic rose by 82 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 and it is thought that 131 Exabytes a month will be transmitted by 2024 as 5G takes hold.
Despite Ericsson’s optimism, it is unclear what the impact of any bans on the use of Huawei kit will have. The US and several countries have excluded the vendor from their rollouts of 5G and are urging others to do the same. Huawei has denied any allegations of wrongdoing while there is little appetite from operators for a ban as they fear this will lead to higher costs, delays, and reduced innovation.
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