New figures from GSMA Intelligence, announced during MWC 2023, show that 5G connections are expected to double over the next two years, expedited by technological innovations and new 5G network deployments in more than 30 countries in 2023 alone. Of the new networks to be deployed in 2023, it is expected that 15 will be 5G standalone networks.
The forecasts point to a significant period of growth in terms of mobile subscribers and enterprise adoption. Consumer connections surpassed one billion at the end of 2022 and will increase to around 1.5 billion this year, before reaching two billion by the end of 2025. This momentum confirms 5G as the fastest generational rollout, when compared to 3G and 4G.
As of January 2023, there were 229 commercial 5G networks globally and over 700 5G smartphone models available to users.
Growth will also come from key markets within APAC and LATAM, such as Brazil and India, which have recently launched 5G networks. GSMA Intelligence predicts there will be four 5G networks in India by the end of 2025, accounting for 145 million additional users.
Many of the new 5G markets scheduled to launch networks in 2023 are in developing regions across Africa – including Ethiopia and Ghana – and Asia. Today, 5G adoption in the sub-Saharan region sits below 1% but will reach over 4% by 2025 and 16% in 2030, largely thanks to a concerted effort from industry and government organisations to provide connectivity to citizens.
As of January 2023, more than 90 fixed broadband service providers (the vast majority of which are mobile operators) had launched commercial 5G-based fixed wireless services across over 48 countries. This means around 40% of 5G commercial mobile launches worldwide currently include an FWA offering.
While the majority of current 5G FWA deployments focus on the 3.5–3.8 GHz bands, several operators around the world are already using 5G mmWave spectrum as a capacity and performance booster to complement coverage provided by lower bands.
Only 7% of 5G launches have been in 5G mmWave spectrum so far but this looks set to change given 27% of spectrum allocations and 35% of trials are already using 5G mmWave bands.
The figures from GSMA Intelligence, which provides definitive data and analysis for the mobile industry, also suggest that, for operators, the enterprise market will be the main driver of 5G revenue growth over the next decade.
Another major development for the enterprise will be the commercial availability of 5G Advanced in 2025. Focusing on uplink technology, 5G Advanced will improve speed, coverage, mobility and power efficiency – and support a new wave of business opportunities.