According to the latest report from network equipment manufacturer Ericsson that covers the third quarter, there are 8 billion mobile subscribers globally as 61 million new subscribers added service from July through September. China led the way with 14 million net additions followed by Indonesia (+9 million) and the Philippines (+8 million). 4G LTE subscriptions rose by 190 million and now make up 4.2 billion or 52% of the total. 3G subscriptions declined by 50 million and 2G subscriptions by 70 million. And accounts for smartphones make up 70% of the total. But Ericsson cautions that after accounting for inactive users, multiple accounts used for different types of calls, the real number of mobile users globally is 5.9 billion.
China and the Asia Pacific region have the largest number of mobile accounts with close to 1.6 billion followed by India with 1.2 billion. North America has the lowest number of mobile subscriptions among the nine regions measured by Ericsson. The continent has 385 million mobile accounts after adding two million during the quarter.
74% of North American mobile subscriptions will be for 5G service by 2025
5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity and, at least initially, it could provide download data speeds at least 10 times faster than 4G. As a result, it will lead to the creation of new businesses and industries and could spark an economic boom in countries that harness 5G first. It should also lead to a revival in smartphone sales as eventually 5G enabled handsets will replace consumers' current handsets. For example, Apple expects to sell 100 million 5G iPhones next year after they are released, most likely next September. Ericsson forecasts that there will be 13 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year with China leading the way. By 2025, the company predicts that there will be 2.6 billion 5G accounts globally. And to show that there will still be plenty of growth ahead, that figure will represent just 29% of all mobile subscriptions at that time. The report notes that 50 carriers worldwide have already announced 5G launches. In the states, all four major wireless providers are offering 5G in limited areas, although T-Mobile will offer "nationwide" 5G starting on December 6th. Over 200 million Americans in over 5,000 cities will be covered by T-Mobile's 5G signal.
China and the Asian Pacific region have the largest number of mobile subscriptions according to Ericsson
Right now, 91% of mobile subscriptions in North America are for 4G LTE service. That is the highest percentage among the eight regions surveyed by the networking equipment manufacturer. By 2025, 74% of mobile subscriptions on the continent will be for 5G service with 4G making up the balance. Some markets are way behind. For example, India might be the second-largest smartphone market in the world, but the number of 4G LTE accounts will rise by 190 million this year and surpass the number of 3G subscriptions for the very first time. And in the Middle East and Africa region (made up of 70 countries), only 17% of mobile subscriptions are for 4G LTE while 43% are using much older and limited 2G service. By 2025, Ericsson believes that only 11% of mobile subscriptions in India and 7% in the Middle East and Africa will be for 5G service.
Ericsson says that 74% of North American mobile subscriptions will be for 5G by 2025
Even while 5G adoption picks up speed, 4G LTE will remain dominant until 2022 when it peaks at 5.4 billion subscriptions; that number should decline to 4.8 billion by the time 2025 rolls around. Those 600 million subscriptions will have switched to 5G from 4G. Ironically, 2G subscriptions will decline at a slower pace, says Ericsson. That is due to the longer life-cycle of 2G feature phones and the higher prices for smartphones. Speaking of smartphones, Ericsson expects 13 million 5G handsets to be shipped by the end of 2019 soaring to 160 million units next year.