Tech analyst firm CCS Insight has raised its near-term expectations for 5G connections after a flurry of operators announced their ambitions to bring services to market more quickly than previously stated.
According to the forecast, 5G connections will reach 340 million in 2021, before surpassing one billion in the first half of 2023. By 2025, the total is expected to hit 2.7 billion, equivalent to more than one connection in every five in the world.
"The intentions of major US carriers to launch 5G in late 2018 have been clear for a while. But recently we've seen greater urgency to deploy networks from providers in Europe, the Middle East and China," said Kester Mann, principal analyst at CCS Insight. "While Europe may still be around a year adrift of the leading markets in 5G, some regional operators are clearly determined to launch commercial services as soon as next year."
CCS says recent bullish statements from other networks including Telecom Italia, BT, Swisscom and Telenor point to 5G becoming a commercial reality in Europe sooner than previously assumed.
These ambitions contrast with the more cautious approach of major groups like Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, which have only committed to commercial 5G services in 2020. "Nevertheless, once networks are launched, the motivation to bring users onto them will be huge", commented Mann. CCS Insight's 5G forecast for Western Europe sees over 20 million 5G connections at the end of 2020, growing fivefold to more than 100 million two years later.