Ericsson, Cisco offer their 5G forecasts

In its latest report, Ericsson forecasts mobile subscriptions by region and technology. (Ericsson)

Ericsson and Cisco have released their traffic forecasts for the coming years, and both companies are predicting growth in the number of 5G users and the amount of traffic traveling over 5G networks.

To be clear, the companies are basing their predictions on the information they’re getting from their respective equipment businesses. Both Ericsson and Cisco are major suppliers of mobile and internet networking equipment. Thus, their outlooks carry a substantial amount of weight.

Moreover, the companies are largely in lockstep when it comes to 5G. Both are hoping to revive equipment sales as operators look to upgrade their networks to faster and more capable 5G service.

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And, not surprisingly, both Cisco and Ericsson are forecasting steady and sustained growth in the 5G marketplace.

Ericsson, for example, said that it expects 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions by the end of 2024. “This will account for close to 17% of all mobile subscriptions at that time. With global mobile data traffic forecast to increase more than 5 times between 2018 and 2024, key drivers for 5G deployment include increased network capacity and decreased cost per byte. 5G subscription uptake is expected to be faster than for LTE, which in turn is the mobile communication technology with the fastest subscription uptake so far,” the company wrote in its full report (PDF).

Importantly, Ericsson added that it expects 250 million 5G subscriptions in North America by 2024.

In terms of traffic, Ericsson said that by 2024, 5G networks will carry 25% of the world’s mobile data traffic and cover fully 40% of the world’s population.

(It’s also worth noting that Ericsson said that, by the end of 2024, the company expects the average smartphone user to consume more than 21 GB of data per month—nearly four times the amount consumed in 2018.)

Cisco, for its part, also offers some 5G data points in its wider look at the globe’s overall demand for data, in its own report.

For example, Cisco said that 5G devices and connections will account for over 3% of global mobile devices and connections by 2022. The company added that, by 2022, global mobile devices will grow from 8.6 billion in 2017 to 12.3 billion by 2022—and over 422 million of those will be 5G capable.

Further, Cisco said that 12% of global mobile traffic will be on 5G cellular connectivity by 2022, and that globally the average 5G connection will generate 21 GB of traffic per month.

More broadly, Cisco said that the amount of data consumed in the year 2022 alone will be more than all the data traveling across global networks between 1984 and 2016.


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