Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting a strain on capital expenditure (CAPEX) in many industries, 5G investments were largely spared, as countries like China and South Korea go all-in with 5G rollouts. In ABI Research’s latest 5G market forecast for the years 2022 to 2027, it’s clear that adoption is destined for rapid growth and will shift from a minuscule slice of the network market to the largest network by 2026. Moreover, market data from some other reports, such as a 5G Advanced whitepaper and the IoT Tracker: 5G report—add more credence to the notion that 5G is rapidly overtaking 4G/LTE. In this post, we take a closer look at the 5G market forecast with eight eye-opening stats that every service provider needs to know to plan for success.
Infographic Summarizing 5G Adoption
Below is an infographic compiling some of the most intersting stats and trends pulled from our latest 5G forecasts. This visual aide can serve as a prognosis for 5G adoption trends worldwide in both the consumer and enterprise segments.
1. There Will be 3.1 Billion 5G Subscribers in 2027
In 2022, there are 934 million 5G subscribers worldwide, which is slightly more than the now ancient 2G/3G. However, this trend will be short-lived as the 5G subscriber number will increase to 3.1 billion by 2027.
Chart 1: 5G Mobile Subscriptions
World Markets: 2022 to 2027
2. 5G Subscriptions Are Growing at a CAGR of 27%
Another way to look at the 5G market statistic is that the 5G subscriber number will grow by an impressive 27% every year between the forecast period (2022 to 2027). Now, compare that with the dismal Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) of 2G/3G and 4G, as follows:
2G/3G: -21% CAGR
4G: -10% CAGR
3. 5G Users Will Consume Over 1 Trillion Exabytes of Data by 2025
As one of the craziest stats found in our 5G market forecast, more than 1.2 trillion exabytes of data traffic will stem from 5G networks in 2025. To be fair, this feat will be accomplished by 4G/LTE one year before, in 2024. But by 2027, 5G sum of traffic will gain the upper hand over 4G, when about 2.5 trillion exabytes of traffic will be consumed by users, compared to 1.5 trillion exabytes of 4G data.
4. Nearly 4X as Many Americans Will Use 5G in 2027 as They Do in 2022
Compared to the roughly 109 million 5G subscribers in the United States in 2022, by 2027 there will be more than 391 million subscribers on the network. By the way, that's 79% of all wireless subscribers in the country. This positions the United States right between China and India on the upper end of the largest 5G markets. As impressive as the U.S. market is, China is by far the biggest regional market.
5. China Will Go From Comprising 69% of the 5G Market to 35% in Just Four Years
There are already 486 million 5G subscribers in China in 2022, which is 69% of all 5G subscribers worldwide. However, the rest of the world – especially the United States, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, and Germany – is quickly catching up in 5G connections. By 2027, China will only represent 35% of the 3.1 billion global 5G subscribers, which is still more than 1 billion subscribers and easily makes it the biggest market opportunity for Mobile Service Providers (MSPs). This 5G market forecast stat goes to show how far ahead China has already been in the 5G space and how much room for improvement other regions possess.
6. 125,000+ 5G Positioning Deployments in the Industry Sector in 2030
The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 17 and Release 18 promise vast improvements in real-time positioning accuracy and resiliency. This is beneficial in manufacturing, supply chain operations, surveying, and public safety. It also has key decision-makers in major Real-Time Location System (RTLS) spaces excited; 56% of them say 5G positioning is their most desired RTLS technology. ABI Research expects the emergence of 5G positioning to surface in 2023, with 68 deployments in the industry sector. By 2030, the technology will be a popular trends, with that number climbing to more than 125,000 deployments.
7. Three Out of Four 5G Base Stations will Upgrade to 5G Advanced by 2030
With an expected launch in 2025, 5G Advanced will bring with it a number of next-gen features, such as improvements in mMIMO, UL coverage, Dynamics Spectrum Sharing (DSS), and Integrated Access Backhaul (IAB). It will also be incredibly attractive to enterprises due to its positioning capabilities, reaching <1 Centimeter accuracy in the future, as well as sidelink relays for Device-to-Device (D2D) Communication. According to our forecasts, 75% of 5G base stations will make the jump to 5G Advanced. That will account for 76 million radios, 23 million macro basebands, and 13 million small cells globally.
5G Advanced will take firm hold of the consumer device market by 2028—when 821 million devices will be supported.
8. 33.9 Million 5G IoT Connections by 2026
The Internet of Things (IoT) devices, used in myriad industries and consumer use cases, will be no stranger to 5G connectivity. By 2026, almost 34 million IoT connections worldwide will support 5G. The applications where 5G IoT will be used the most include:
- OEM Telematics (7.6 million connections)
- Fleet Management (6.3 million connections)
- Water Meters (4.2 million connections)
- Home Security & Automation (4.1 million connections)
However, a number of applications—such as smart grids, people & pet tracking, and smart street lighting—are not expected to deploy 5G IoT connections.
Takeaways from the Market
In the coming years, 5G is set to become the dominant force in the mobile network services space. As consumer and enterprise standards rise, 5G becomes the logical solution, especially as the age of early adoption and high prices fade away. Although the transition from legacy networks to 5G varies from region to region, overall adoption is on track for mainstream status. No matter which of the 30 countries we analyzed in our 5G market forecast, adoption is ramping up and growth rates are impeccable – with the lowest CAGR being 21% in South Korea.
By reviewing the 5G stats and trends found in this post, mobile service providers are equipped with the information needed to plan exceptional product development and marketing strategies. To learn more, check out the reports:
Network Technology and Market Tracker
Is The Industry—And The World—Ready For 5G Advanced? (whitepaper)
These research reports are part of ABI Research’s 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure Research Service.