The majority of mobile traffic in the GCC region will be on 5G network beyond 2023, with new data by Ericsson predicting that the GCC region will have 62 million 5G mobile subscriptions by the end of 2026.
Speaking in a webinar on Monday, Zoran Lazarević, chief technology officer at Ericsson Middle East & Africa, highlighted how the 5G landscape is set to change the GCC’s technology and communications landscape. Citing new data from the 20th edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, he revealed that 5G will account for 73 per cent of all mobile subscriptions in the GCC by 2026 - the second highest 5G market penetration globally. North East Asia is expected to account for the largest share of 5G subscriptions by 2026, with an estimated 1.4 billion 5G subscriptions
According to Ericsson’s new report, 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million globally by the end of 2021, driven by an estimated one million new 5G mobile subscriptions every day. This means that 5G is on track to become the fastest adopted mobile generation.
In 2019, GCC markets were among the first in the world to launch commercial 5G services. In addition, at the end of 2020, the GCC had the highest average monthly data traffic per smartphone in the world, exceeding 18GB. As one of the key economies in the GCC, the UAE is supporting the use and growth of technologies such as 5G in a region where mobile data consumption is the highest in the world. Driven by the UAE Vision 2021 and various other digital initiatives such as Smart Dubai Vision to make the city paperless and all government transactions 100 per cent digitized, 5G is transforming the economic and social landscape of the nation.
“One of our key findings is that the GCC region is consuming most of the data per month per smartphone in comparison to other parts of the world,” Lazarević said. “Right now, 4G is the dominant tech, and it is picking up globally this year; we expect to have over four billion 4G subscriptions this year and then it will start to slowly decline. In fact, it is already slowing down in the GCC region, and one of the main reasons for this is that the cycle of replacing smartphones is much shorter here in the region.”
Globally 5G is expected to surpass a billion subscriptions two years ahead of the 4G LTE timeline for the same milestone. Key factors behind that include China’s earlier commitment to 5G and the earlier availability and increasing affordability of commercial 5G devices. More than 300 5G smartphone models have already been announced or launched commercially. The commercial 5G momentum is also expected to continue in the coming years, spurred by the enhanced role of connectivity as a key component of post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
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