Global 5G subscriptions remain on track to top 1-billion by the end of this year, and 5-billion by the end of 2028, despite current and developing economic challenges in many parts of the world.

The November 2022 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report also forecasts global fixed wireless access (FWA) connections to grow faster than previously expected.

FWA – the wireless alternative to wireline broadband connectivity for homes and businesses – is one of the major early 5G use cases, particularly in regions with unserved or underserved broadband markets.

Driven in part by accelerated FWA plans in India, and expected growth in other emerging markets, FWA is forecast to grow at 19% year-on-year through 2022-28, and top 300-million connections by the end of 2028.

More than three-quarters of communications service providers (CSPs) surveyed in more than 100 countries currently offer FWA services. Almost one-third of CSPs are offering FWA over 5G, compared to one-fifth a year ago. Almost 40% of the new 5G FWA launches in the past 12 months have been in emerging markets.

On 5G itself, about 110-million subscriptions were added globally between July-September 2022, bringing the total to about 870-million. As forecast in previous reports, 5G is still expected to reach 1-billion subscriptions by the end of this year – two years faster than 4G did, following its launch.

The statistic reinforces 5G as the fastest-scaling mobile connectivity generation. Key drivers include the timely availability of devices from multiple vendors, with prices falling faster than for 4G, and China’s large early 5G deployments.

North America and North East Asia continue to see strong 5G growth, with 5G subscription penetration in the regions expected to reach about 35% by end of 2022.

Globally, almost 230 CSPs have launched 5G services to date, with more than 700 5G smartphone models announced or launched commercially.

By the end of 2028, five billion 5G subscriptions are forecast globally, accounting for 55% of all subscriptions. In the same timeframe, 5G population coverage is projected to reach 85% while 5G networks are expected to carry around 70% of mobile traffic and account for all contemporary traffic growth.

Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice-president and head of networks at Ericsson, comments: “Communications service providers continue to deploy 5G and the momentum for Fixed Wireless Access is accelerating. Moreover, global mobile network data traffic is practically doubling every two years.

“As described in this edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, service providers are taking actions to deploy the latest generation of energy-efficient radio hardware and software, increase the use of renewable energy sources, and operate site infrastructure intelligently to reduce the environmental impact.”

Global 4G subscription numbers also continue to rise, growing by about 41-million between July and September 2022, and are expected to reach a peak of about 5,2-billion around the end of this year.

Overall mobile subscriptions are expected to top 8,4-billion by the end of 2022, and 9,2-billion by the end of 2028.

Most subscriptions are associated with smartphones. At the end of 2022, 6,6-billion smartphone subscriptions are estimated, accounting for about 79% of all mobile phone subscriptions.

The latest report also highlights the importance of reducing environmental impact. The telecommunications sector has a key role to play in addressing global sustainability goals, both by reducing its own emissions and through its potential to reduce carbon emissions across other industries.