Ericsson predicted deployments of standalone (SA) 5G to accelerate this year as more mobile operators seek to exploit the capabilities of next-generation core networks.

In the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, the vendor noted only around 20 mobile operators globally had launched SA 5G networks by the end of 2021. However, the figure is expected to double in 2022.

During a webinar to discuss the findings, the report’s executive editor Peter Jonsson said SA systems will enable more efficient network slicing and allow operators to develop service offerings “beyond enhanced mobile broadband”.

Ericsson noted compatible SA devices are becoming increasingly available, accounting for more than half of all announced 5G devices.

It predicted 5G mobile subscriptions would exceed 1 billion in 2022, after hitting 620 million in Q1. By end-2027, Ericsson expects the figure to hit 4.4 billion, accounting for 48 per cent of all mobile subscriptions (see chart, right, click to enlarge).

Currently, North America and North East Asia have the highest 5G subscription penetration, followed by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Western Europe.

As for 4G subscriptions, the technology is expected to peak at 5 billion this year and then fall to 3.5 billion by end-2027.

More traffic
Ericsson added 5G is generating an increasingly large proportion of network traffic, with the figure standing at around 10 per cent in 2021 and forecast to hit 60 per cent in 2027.

Total global mobile data traffic, excluding that generated by fixed wireless access, reached around 67 exabytes (EB) per month by the end of 2021 and is projected to reach 282EB per month in 2027.