Home / Industry / Telecom /  India to have 350 million 5G subscriptions by 2026, says report

India is estimated to have 350 million 5G subscriptions by 2026, accounting for 27% of the total mobile connections in the country, according to Ericsson Mobility Report of November 2020. India’s total mobile subscriptions, estimated at 1.13 billion in 2020, are expected to touch 1.29 billion in the next six years, the report said.

Ericsson has forecast global 5G subscriptions by the end of 2020 at 220 million as telecom service providers continue to build and develop their networks. The adoption of 5G in subscriptions and population coverage also indicates that the technology has had the fastest deployment versus other generations of mobile connectivity. By 2026, the world is estimated to have 3.5 billion 5G connections, the report said.

“By the end of 2020, more than 1 billion people—15%of the world’s population—will live in an area that has 5G coverage rolled out. In 2026, 60% of the world’s population will have access to 5G coverage, with 5G subscriptions forecast to reach 3.5 billion," it said.

In India, the three largest telecom players have diverging views as far as the implementation of 5G is concerned. While Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd claims to have built an indigenous 5G solution that is ready to be rolled out as soon as spectrum is available, rival Bharti Airtel Ltd maintains that the ecosystem is underdeveloped and the airwaves are unaffordable.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) may conduct spectrum auctions during January-March but it will largely be for 4G, and may take up sale of 5G radio airwaves later.

In the report, Ericsson said average monthly mobile data consumption per smartphone is on the rise in India driven by rapid adoption of 4G and remote working amid the covid-19 pandemic, resulting into the highest average monthly data traffic in the world.

“The reliance of people on their mobile networks to stay connected as well as work from home has contributed to the average traffic per smartphone user increasing from 13.5GB per month in 2019 to 15.7GB per month in 2020," the report said.

Low prices for mobile broadband services, affordable smartphones and increased time spent by customers online contributed to average monthly mobile data traffic growth, which is estimated to rise to 37GB per smartphone by 2026, it said.

Recently, Jio and Airtel launched cheaper broadband plans as customers look at improving internet connectivity due to remote working. While Jio’s plans start at 399 per month, Airtel’s lowest offer is of 499.

India is also among the largest smartphone users in the world, with 760 million subscriptions as of 2020 due to high growth in the number of users from urban and rural areas. An additional 390 million smartphone subscriptions are expected in India in the next six years, taking the total number close to 1.2 billion in 2026, the report said.

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