The report predicted that more widespread 5G deployments will occur in 2020, and by the end of 2023 there will more than 1 billion 5G subscribers worldwide.
However, Ericsson notes that 4G LTE will be the most prevalent mobile technology by year-end and it will maintain its dominant position for some time. By the end of 2023, Ericsson predicts the number of LTE subscriptions will top 5.5 billion and will make up 60 percent of all mobile subscribers.
In North America, which currently has the highest penetration of LTE, Ericsson expects early 5G deployments. The region is expected to see 5G account for 37 percent of all mobile subscriptions by the end of 2023.
Northeast Asia — which includes China, Japan, and South Korea — is expected to see 5G account for 34 percent of all connections by the end of 2023. Western Europe, meanwhile, will evolve more slowly with 5G making up 16 percent of all mobile connections by 2023.
20 Billion by 2023
Not surprisingly, Ericsson is expecting big growth to occur in the Internet of Things (IoT). The report estimates that there will be 20 billion connected IoT devices by 2023, with cellular connections accounting for 1.8 billion of those connections. By year-end, Ericsson believes there will be about 500 million IoT devices worldwide with cellular connections.
Cellular IoT devices primarily use GSM technology today, but by 2023 cellular IoT connections will primarily use LTE and 5G. Ericsson expects applications like critical communications to use 5G IoT connections, but the rest will use LTE.
Ericsson also said that it believes more than 20 massive IoT cellular networks have been commercially launched, with those networks based upon technologies like CAT-M1 and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).