LIVE FROM MWC21 BARCELONA: The GSMA forecast 5G connections to represent more than a fifth of total mobile connections by the end of 2025, reaching 1.8 billion, with highest adoption expected in North America and four of the most developed markets in the Asia Pacific region.

In its latest Mobile Economy report, the industry group estimated global 5G connections will account for 21 per cent of all connections, with more than two-in-five people expected to live within reach of a 5G network.

The GSMA highlighted the adoption of the technology will represent 53 per cent (164 million) of total connections in Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

In North America, 51 per cent (219 million) of all mobile connections will be using the next-generation networks, while China will have 828 million 5G connections, representing almost half of the global total by 2025.

By end-2020, global unique mobile subscribers stood at 5.2 billion (67 per cent of the population), showing no significant difference from 2019 as the GSMA explained markets were becoming saturated.

Almost half a billion new subscribers by end-2025, mostly from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, will bring total mobile subscriptions to 5.7 billion globally.

Mobile technologies and services contributed $4.4 trillion of global GDP in 2020, up from $4.1 trillion by end-2019. The industry is expected to contribute nearly $5 trillion of GDP globally by end-2025, driven by uptake of mobile services as countries see their benefits for improved productivity.

Spectrum challenges
The GSMA called on governments to reassess the environment for mobile services as a way to accelerate investment and innovation, and called for “effective” spectrum pricing policies so 5G services become more affordable and provide better quality.

It also appealed for increased spectrum availability by opening up 80MHz to 100MHz spectrum per operator in prime 5G mid-bands, and 800MHz in mmWave.