5GNews & Analysis

India Could Have 500Mn 5G Subscribers in Five Years

A new report says that close to three-fifth of all mobile traffic in the India, Nepal, Bhutan region would be on 5G networks by 2027

India’s recent announcements over auctioning 5G spectrum may have warmed the cockles of services providers seeking to further expand mobile-based commerce and services. Now, a new report suggests that close to three-fifths of the total mobile traffic in the India region could adopt the 5G network within the next five years. 

This could be just the jackpot that service providers such as OTT platforms, digital retailers and online education providers were waiting for. The latest Ericsson Mobility Report (click here to download) 56% of total mobile data traffic across India, Nepal and Bhutan will migrate to 5G networks, which will account for 39% of all mobile subscriptions. 

On a broader note, the report says 5G data subscriptions would cross a billion by end-2022 and is likely to touch 4.4 billion by the end of 2027. However, 4G subscriptions would continue to have another year of strong growth in 2022 reaching 5 billion by end-2022, following which it could decline steadily to touch 3.5 billion by end-2027. 


Mobile leads the growth

At the end of 2021, there were around 8.2 billion mobile subscriptions, and the report projects  this figure to increase to around 9.1 billion by the end of 2027. During the same time, the share of mobile broadband subscriptions will increase from 84 to 93 percent. The number of unique mobile subscribers is projected to grow from 6.1 billion at the end of 2021 to 6.7 billion by the end of the forecast period. 

Subscriptions associated with smartphones are also rising continuously. At the end of 2021 there were 6.3 billion, accounting for about 77 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions. This is forecast to reach 7.8 billion in 2027, accounting for around 87 percent of all mobile subscriptions at that time. 

Subscriptions for fixed broadband are expected to grow around 4 percent annually through 2027.4 FWA connections are anticipated to show strong growth of 17 percent annually through 2027. Subscriptions for mobile PCs and tablets are expected to show moderate growth, reaching around 540 million in 2027. 


The India growth story

The report notes that growth of mobile broadband is the foundation around which the central government is creating the “Digital India” narrative. Currently, the 4G networks are driving the digital connectivity growth in India but given the parallel initiatives such as the ONDC network, digital payments growth, and online entertainment, 5G expansion becomes imperative. 

Commercial launches of 5G networks are planned for the second half of 2022 in India, with enhanced mobile broadband expected to be the initial main use case. With increasing availability and affordability of 5G smartphones, along with rapid adoption of smartphones in urban and rural areas, 5G subscriptions are expected to rapidly increase to reach around 50 million in the region by the end of 2023. 

Moreover, 5G will represent around 39 percent of mobile subscriptions in the region at the end of 2027, with about 500 million subscriptions. As subscribers migrate to 5G, 4G subscriptions are forecast to decline annually to an estimated 700 million subscriptions in 2027.

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