The migration to 4G and 5G networks will gather significant pace over the coming years, with 4G being forecast to account for 53 per cent of global connections by 2025, up from 29 per cent in 2017.
The new GSMA’s Mobile Economy report adds that 5G networks will grow to account for a further 14 per cent, following the launch of the first commercial 5G networks this year.
“We are at the dawn of a new era in mobile with the imminent launch of the first 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) poised to further transform the way we live and work,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA.
“As the mobile industry moves into the 5G era, the need for pro-investment, pro-innovation policies and modernised regulatory regimes has never been greater,” he added. “Streamlined regulation and further policy developments in three main areas – spectrum, infrastructure and economics – are key to realising the full potential of 5G for consumers, society and industry.”
Of note, the new study claims that IoT uptake will flourish driven by a proliferation of use cases for smart homes, buildings and enterprises. GSMA Intelligence forecast the number of IoT connections (cellular and non-cellular) will increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2025, reaching 25 billion.
To date, 23 mobile operators have commercially launched 38 mobile IoT networks worldwide across using the NB-IoT and LTE-M standards.
GSMA Intelligence also highlighted the fact that the mobile industry signed up its 5 billionth unique mobile subscriber last year and is forecast to add almost another billion by 2025, reaching 5.9 billion subscribers – equivalent to 71 per cent of the world’s expected population by that point.
Subscriber growth over this period will be driven by developing countries, principally Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, as well as markets across Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The study conclude that, by 2025, it is expected that 5 billion subscribers will be using their mobile phones to access the internet, up from 3.3 billion in 2017.