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In a nutshell: 5G is the fastest growing mobile communications technology ever, and the build-out is only expected to accelerate in the coming years. In its June 2022 mobility report, Ericsson said 5G population coverage reached roughly 25 percent at the end of 2021. According to the telecommunications company, 5G managed to hit this milestone about 18 months faster than 4G networks did when they first launched in 2009.
This was thanks in part to the timely launch of supported devices from multiple vendors, rapidly declining prices of 5G compatible devices compared to their early 4G counterparts and China's early 5G deployments.
Ericsson further reports that 5G subscriptions grew by 70 million during the first quarter of this year to reach 620 million worldwide. That figure is expected to surpass one billion by the end of 2022, with North America and North East Asia leading the charge.
Fifth-gen cellular networks started deploying in 2019 and had it not been for the global pandemic and associated conspiracy theories linking the two, the rollout and subsequent adoption numbers likely would have been even higher.
By the end of 2027, Ericsson believes 5G will account for 48 percent of all mobile subscriptions with 4.4 billion and become the world's dominant mobile access technology. North America is forecast to have the highest 5G penetration by that point at 90 percent.
For now, 4G networks still reign supreme. 4G subscriptions grew to around 4.9 billion during the most recent quarter and are expected to peak at about five billion before starting to taper off to make way for 5G.