Global 5G connections hit 690 million – Ericsson

  • 5G accounted for 8.3% of all mobile subscriptions by the end of Q2 2022, according to Ericsson’s research team
  • Mobile broadband is the overall winner, as the number of 4G as well as 5G connections is rising
  • Mobile data traffic volumes are greater than ever, driven by video content consumption

The number of 5G connections worldwide hit 690 million by the end of June 2022, accounting for 8.3% of all cellular subscriptions, according to the latest market report from Ericsson, which believes the 5G market is on course to hit 1 billion lines by the end of this year. 

In an Q2 update to its Ericsson Mobility Report, the vendor noted 5G subscriptions grew by 70 million during the three months to the end of June as operators continued to roll out their next generation mobile networks, including 5G standalone (SA) systems: By the end of the second quarter, 218 CSPs had launched commercial 5G services, with 24 operators having deployed 5G SA networks.

And the numbers are only set to rise further, and perhaps even faster, as more markets allocate 5G spectrum and operators invest heavily in licences – a prime example is the recent record US$19bn 5G auction in India, where 5G services are set to become available as soon as October in some of the major cities. 

The Swedish vendor has noted previously that if 5G subscriptions do indeed surpass 1 billion by the year-end, it will be “the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology in history”.

But while 5G gets a lot of the mobile limelight these days, the global reality is that more than 90% of cellular connections are via previous generations of mobile technology. The total number of global mobile connections stood at  around 8.3 billion at the end of June, up by just 52 million during the second quarter, with most of the net gains coming from China (10 million), India (7 million) and Indonesia (4 million). The chart below provides a breakdown per region:

Total and net additions for mobile subscriptions Q2 2022 (million), Ericsson

Total and net additions for mobile subscriptions Q2 2022 (million), Ericsson

However, the number of unique mobile subscribers is lower, estimated by Ericsson to be about 6.1 billion: The difference comes from various factors, such as inactive subscriptions and the ownership of multiple devices and/or connections by individuals, the company explained.

The cellular network technology with most subscriptions is still 4G, as its penetration rose by 77 million to around 5 billion, representing 60% of all mobile connections.

While 4G and 5G numbers continue to rise, the number of 3G connections dropped by 41 million, while 2G-only subscriptions fell by 48 million.

Unsurprisingly, mobile network data traffic volumes grew 39% year-on-year to 100 exabytes (EB) per month on a global scale. By comparison, data traffic in Q2 2021 was a bit more than 70EB/month.

The main drivers for the increase include the rising number of smartphone subscriptions as well as an increase in the average volume of data consumed per subscription, driven mainly by increasing video traffic.

The report also highlighted variations in mobile subscription penetration rates in different parts of the world. While the global figure stood at 106% in the second quarter of 2022, it was lowest in India (including Nepal and Bhutan) at 78%, followed by Africa, with a penetration rate of 86%. On the flip side of the coin was Central and Eastern Europe (including Russia), where subscription penetration was 140%, followed by Western Europe with 129% for the period.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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