Global 5G subscriptions are expected to ramp up quickly to reach more than half a billion subscriptions by 2022 while smartphone subscriptions overall are expected to hit 6.8 billion in the same timeframe, Ericsson said in its latest Mobility Report.

According to the report, North America will lead the way with a quarter of all the region’s mobile subscriptions expected to be for 5G by 2022. It will be followed by the Asia Pacific region with 10 percent of all subscriptions for 5G.

The report indicated the roll out of 5G services will include both pre- and post-2020 standards launches. The technology is expected to become available in metropolitan and urban areas first, and will cover around 10 percent of the global population by 2022.

Credit: Ericsson Mobility Report

Ericsson said there will be approximately 3.9 billion smartphone subscriptions by the end of this year, a figure that is expected to grow to 6.8 billion by 2022. While around 90 percent of subscriptions today are on WCDMA/HSPA and LTE (3G and 4G) networks, the mix is expected to shift so that 95 percent of smartphone subscriptions in 2022 will be on WCDMA/HSPA, LTE, and 5G networks.

The Mobility Report also took stock of Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services, estimating the total number of VoLTE subscriptions will exceed 200 million by the end of this year. Uptake of VoLTE is expected to accelerate, the report said, to hit 3.3 billion subscriptions and 60 percent of all global LTE subscriptions by the end of 2022. In the United States and other early adopters like Canada, Japan, and South Korea, VoLTE is expected to account for around 90 percent of all LTE subscriptions by 2022, the report said.

Overall mobile subscriptions are also expected to grow from 7.5 billion today to 8.9 billion by 2022, with 90 percent of subscriptions being for mobile broadband, the report noted.

Other forecasts

Ericsson’s report also included forecasts for a number of other related topics, including data traffic, mobile video, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Here are some quick numbers on those:

  • Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 50 percent annually through 2022 to account for nearly 75 percent of all mobile data traffic. Social networking is the second biggest data traffic type after video, forecast to grow by 39 percent annually over the coming six years.

  • Monthly mobile data traffic per active smartphone user in North America is expected to rise from 5.1 GB per month to a massive25 GB per month. Overall, mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 45 percent.

  • Around 29 billion connected devices are forecast by 2022, of which around 18 billion will be related to IoT. A quarter of all subscriptions will be 5G in North America in 2022, representing the highest market penetration in the world.

  • To support all this data use, Ericsson said carriers can implement technologies like carrier aggregation, higher order modulation, and 4x4 MIMO to boost peak downlink data speeds to 1 gbps.

Ericsson’s full Mobility Report can be found here.