The initial rate of increase in 5G subscribers was around two years faster than it was for 4G LTE, Ericsson said in its Mobility Report 2020.
The Swedish telecom equipment giant expects 5G subscribers to hit 190 million by the end of the year. This is slightly lower than 4G subscribers in 2013, four years after the network rolled out.
Next year, the number of 5G subscribers will reach 500 million, Ericsson said.
China was showing the fastest increase as the country was building 5G networks faster than it did 4G LTE.
The combined number of 5G subscribers of China Mobile and China Telecom reached 108 million last month.
China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier, saw 14.59 million new 5G subscribers in June, accumulating 701.9 million in total by the end of that month. Second-largest carrier China Telecom had 37.84 million 5G subscribers in total as of the same month. Third-largest carrier China Unicom has not officially announced its 5G subscription figures.
There were more diverse number of handsets offered in 5G as compared to 4G LTE, which was another reason subscription numbers were rising faster, Ericsson said.
Third generation 5G modem chips will wrap up testing by the end of the year and be installed on next year’s smartphones. These will have lower power consumption and support 5G standalone networks. These chips will also introduce new low- to mid-end 5G smartphones.
Qualcomm dominated the baseband chip market with over 90% share in the early stages of 4G LTE but 5G market has become a more diversified field with companies such as HiSilicon, MediaTek, Samsung System LSI and Unisoc following the US chip giant.
5G communication that uses low-band spectrum sub-1Ghz is also expected to increase, as US carriers are attempting to do so. It is aimed to offer coverage where mmWave high-bands can’t. Dynamic spectrum sharing technology where 4G spectrum are used for 5G will be applied. Verizon and AT&T has commercialized ultra-high spectrum first earlier this year.