Although some pre-standard 5G fixed wireless networks could be deployed earlier, networks based upon the 5G ITU standard will not begin to proliferate until 2020, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report released today. Once launched, subscribers will flock to the new networks, which are expected to attract an estimated 550 million 5G subscribers by year-end 2022, the study said.
North America will be the biggest 5G market, initially, following by Asia Pacific. Operators in South Korea have been particularly aggressive with their 5G trials. According to the report, by 2022 North America will account for 25 percent of the 5G subscribers while Asia Pacific will account for just 10 percent of 5G subscribers. Western Europe, meanwhile will account for just 5 percent of 5G customers.
Korean operator KT said earlier this year that it will launch a commercial 5G network in 2019, one year earlier than its initial plan of 2020 and one year before 5G standards are expected to be fully baked. KT is tightly aligned in its 5G trials and information sharing with U.S. operator Verizon Wireless, which has also said it wants to be aggressive in its 5G deployment.
The Ericsson report notes that network functions virtualization (NFV) will enable flexibility and a broader range of use cases, which is a necessity for making 5G successful. The report said that in 2015, deployments of NFV in the core mobile networks started occurring, and the first examples of services deployed with NFV include voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Wi-Fi calling.
VoLTE on the Rise
VoLTE continues to grow as a service offering from operators, and according to the report, there will be more than 200 million VoLTE customers by year-end. There are also more than 600 VoLTE-enabled smartphone models supporting different radios and frequencies, according to Ericsson.
The VoLTE platform enables services such as high-definition voice, video communication, IP messaging and content-sharing within calls.