5G will reach more than one billion people by end of 2020

Ericsson expects 5G coverage to reach 15% of the world’s population by the end of the year

5G coverage is expected to reach 15% of the world’s population, more than one billion people, by the end of this year, according to a new report by Ericsson.

The Swedish telecoms company has raised its year-end 2020 estimate for global 5G subscriptions to 220 million, out of which 175 million of those - almost 80% - will be based in China.

This is due to the faster-than-average 5G uptake in China, where the network reaches 11% of its mobile subscription base. The region’s success can be credited to the general availability of increasingly affordable 5G smartphones, as well as a national strategic focus and intense competition between service providers.

By comparison, North America is expected to end the year with only around 4% of its mobile subscriptions being 5G. However, Ericsson predicts that by 2026, 80% of North American mobile subscriptions will be 5G, which will soon make the region a global leader.

Meanwhile, Europe is to end 2020 with an estimated 1% of the population signed up to a 5G subscription, largely due to delayed radio spectrum auctions which are required to support 5G deployment.

Ericsson’s findings, which were published in the latest issue of their Mobility Report, come weeks after the Swedish company revealed that the UK’s 5G coverage is currently at only around 30%.

In a joint report with Qualcomm, Ericsson rated the UK’s 5G rollout as currently ‘average’ among European countries, with the country lagging behind frontrunners such as Switzerland and Finland.

However, despite such shortcomings, Ericsson’s executive VP and head of Networks, Fredrik Jejdling, said that 2020 “has seen society take a big leap towards digitalisation”. 

“The pandemic has highlighted the impact connectivity has on our lives and has acted as a catalyst for rapid change, which is also clearly visible in this latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. 5G is entering the next phase, when new devices and applications make the most out of the benefits it provides, while service providers continue to build out 5G," he said. 

"Mobile networks are a critical infrastructure for many aspects of everyday life, and 5G will be key to future economic prosperity."

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