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Dip in phone sales hits 5G subscriber numbers – analysts

Staff Reporter
December 8, 2022

Total 5G connections worldwide still on course to reach 1.15bn by end of year.

A sluggish mobile phone market in 2022 is hitting the transition to 5G networks. But total 5G connections worldwide are still expected to grow 86 per cent and reach 1.15 billion at the end of the year says technology analyst firm CCS Insight.

“Macroeconomic weakness is affecting sales of new mobile phones this year, with global shipments expected to dip 10 per cent to 1.43 billion units. Of these 620 million are expected to be 5G-capable”, said Marina Koytcheva, Vice President of Forecasting at CCS Insight.

This will slow the shift to 5G. But active connections on 5G networks worldwide will still almost double in 2022, thanks to investments by network operators to expand 5G coverage in key markets, and some important network launches in emerging markets”.

The global 5G connection count will continue to rise as network operators that have already deployed the technology make efforts to switch customers to 5G.

5G Connections Worldwide (source CCS Insight)

“Migrating customers to the latest networks is crucial for operators. It helps them to upsell new services, improve operational efficiency and foster a more sustainable business,” explains Kester Mann, Director of Consumer and Connectivity at CCS Insight.

“We expect network operators to continue encouraging phone-makers to bring 5G to cheaper devices”, says Koytcheva.

CCS Insight forecasts 5G connections will rise in all regions of the world in the next four years. Although 70 per cent of the 4.2 billion 5G connections at the end of 2026 will remain in the advanced markets of the West and Asia–Pacific, and in China. The current macroeconomic uncertainty will play a further role in slightly delaying launches by operators that have not launched 5G yet, especially in more vulnerable emerging markets.

CCSI Insight says businesses have been slow to adopt 5G in industrial applications, and that by 2026 industrial applications of the Internet of things will account for just 10 per cent of global 5G connections. The rest will be almost entirely mobile phones, although other devices like tablets, laptops and home Internet routers will make modest contributions.

“5G has not had a smooth ride, with the pandemic hitting equipment and device supply chains, and operators facing challenges recouping the cost of new networks” says Richard Webb, director of network and infrastructure at CCS Insight. But Webb is certain the future remains bright.

“More operators are deploying advanced features that raise the performance of 5G networks. This means new opportunities to combine advanced connectivity with technologies such as artificial intelligence, edge computing and analytics. This will create new applications of the technology, as well as new service revenue”, he states.

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