Connections to 5G networks on track to triple this year

22 October 2021 | Saf Malik

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Connections to 5G networks worldwide remain on track to triple this year to 637 million and more than double in 2022 to 1.34 billion according to predictions from CCS Insight.

The CCS Insight 5G forecast report notes that operators in Western Europe, North America and China continue to roll out 5G networks despite difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, uncertainties about Huawei and an unstable macroeconomic environment.

The report notes that while early adopters of the technology South Korea and China have been pushing ahead of Western European markets in 5G rollout, strong mobile phone sales in the run up to Christmas will help the US to surpass China.

The Asian country has struggled with its 5G rollout this year due to shaky demand for smartphones in 2021 and 5G is forecast to account for only 24% of cellular devices in the country by the end of the year.

"In another turbulent year for the mobile phone market, supply constraints in low- to mid-tier segments, paired with weak demand in emerging markets, have dampened sales,” notes Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at CCS Insight.

“But 5G-enabled devices have so far continued to find their way to the hands of people in the world's most advanced markets, with 560 million 5G-capable smartphones projected to sell in 2021.”

Western Europe continues to lag behind with 5G rollout due to delayed spectrum auctions, slow government decision-making about the role of Huawei and weakened demand for mobile phones throughout the pandemic according to the report.

Once spectrum is allocated and operators start to deploy 5G networks, how quickly people adopt 5G depends on their willingness to buy devices.

"Things are looking up on that front; the global mobile phone market is projected to recover in 2022, and prices of 5G handsets continue to fall steadily. Our forecast for 3.6 billion 5G connections worldwide by 2025 is still firmly on track", Koytcheva says.