BERLIN: Despite the potential to change industries and enable unprecedented download speeds on smartphones, 5G has yet to make a difference in the lives of most people on the planet, new research shows.
The number of mobile contracts allowing 5G Internet speeds around the world varies from 0% in Sub-Saharan Africa to 20% in North America, with the vast majority of mobile phone users still relying on 4G and 3G connections, according to a new communications industry report.
However, this is set to change in the next five years, when 5G access and adoption levels explode, the current Ericsson Mobility Report, published in Stockholm on Tuesday, says.
Hype surrounding the fifth generation of mobile communications swelled in 2020, as more and more smartphone manufacturers added 5G capability to cheaper phones and experts predicted a range of new possibilities across various industries thanks to the high speeds made possible by 5G.
Analysts say that the low latency of 5G has the potential to make telemedicine much more feasible and also make it possible to remotely control a machine from the other side of the planet in real time.
Until now, however, the benefits of 5G would appear to have mostly been noticed by smartphone users who live in cities with stable 5G reception and who use it for high Internet speeds when playing online games or downloading content.
The Ericsson Mobility Report shows that so far about a quarter of the world’s population has potential access to a 5G network and that the number of 5G mobile subscriptions is set to surpass one billion in 2022. This figure is set to explode in the next five years, when triple the amount of people will gain access to 5G.
At the same time, more and more people will begin to actually use this network coverage and the researchers say 5G technology will account for almost half of all phone contracts by 2027 and exceed 4.4 billion.
The US and Western Europe will meanwhile become the two most important regions in the world for 5G in the next five years, according to the report.
Currently, however, 5G adoption levels remain marginal across Western Europe, and at the end of 2021, only 6% of mobile phone contracts in this region were 5G-capable.
By contrast, North America is already at 20%, Northeast Asia at 19% and the Gulf Cooperation Council region at 9%.
By 2027, however, things will change completely, Ericsson predicts, and Western Europe will jump to second place with a 5G rate of 82%, only just behind North America at 90%.
Since 5G has gradually become more widespread, users have also been using mobile networks more intensively, and global data traffic on mobile networks has doubled in the past two years.
The researchers say that by the end of 2022, the average smartphone owner will use more than 15GB of data volume every month, and 40GB by the end of 2027. – dpa