Market Analytics

According to GSMA forecasts, by 2025, 5G will account for 21% of mobile connections in the world.

Every year, the GSMA Intelligence research group releases reports with the most impressive technological, socio-economic, and financial data from the mobile industry. This summer, the company published another report just before the return of the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona. The event was also hosted by them.

According to GSMA forecasts, the global 5G connection will reach 1.8 billion by 2025 — which will account for 21% of mobile connections worldwide.

GSMA predicts the following events. By the end of 2021, the number of connections will reach 500 million. By the end of 2023, it will surpass the threshold of a billion. Finally, by 2025, it will amount to 1.8 billion — more than one fifth of the total number of connections (8.8 billion), not counting the Internet of Things.

Researchers attribute the pandemic to growth catalysts. While COVID-19 has slowed down most industries, a completely different situation has happened with 5G. Mobile operators are accelerating the deployment of networks with government support, in order to cope with the increased demand. Paid 5G services are already available in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. This means that technology is now available in every region of the world.

157 commercial 5G networks, including 55 FWA networks, are already deployed in 62 markets around the world.

Last year, 5G accounted for only 3% of the total number of connections in North America, 12% in China and 1% in Europe. By 2025, North America and the developed countries of the Asia-Pacific region will account for 53%, China for 38% and Europe for 35%. As for China, by that time there will be 828 million 5G subscribers, which is almost half of the subscriber base worldwide.

Possible consequences

The report says that the continued growth of mobile communications will result in a significant contribution to global GDP. According to the GSMA, last year it amounted to 5.1% of GDP — that is, 4.4 trillion dollars. In addition, 25 million people were involved in the production of mobile technologies and services in one way or another, and $410 billion was spent on taxes by the industry.

Thus, by 2025, the contribution of mobile communications will grow by $480 billion due to the increase in the use of mobile services around the world.

Limitations

Despite the optimistic forecasts, everything could have been even better. As you know, mobile integration is now lower in poorer parts of the world. There are also predictably concentrated gaps in network coverage.

In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile communication services are available to only 28% of the population. There is a paradoxical pattern. 48% live in the coverage area of at least one mobile network, but do not use it. There are other barriers. One of the main GSMA calls the lack of digital knowledge.

What about governments?

While the GSMA was making forecasts, they emphasized issues of government regulation. According to experts, political goals often put pressure on mobile operators. For instance, they should expand and modernize their networks, which is hindered by the artificially created level of competition in many countries. The share of operators’ income remains low, and taxes remain high. Thus, we are not talking about public investments in the network.

The GSMA offers governments to support consolidation and create norms that regulate the relationship between traditional communication providers and their network counterparts. In addition, the GSMA suggests reducing the cost of spectrum and simplifying planning rules. These measures will speed up the deployment of networks and make it cheaper.

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