5G reaches one billion users around the world

It was a long-awaited tipping point. 5G will pass the billion user mark this year worldwide, according to CCS Insight’s latest study . Two years after the first commercial launches in Europe the new mobile generation finally found its audience.

However, at the beginning, nothing was taken for granted. The 5G had raised huge environmental and societal questions, making its launch slow, while the operators were spending billions to deploy this technology. Today, these fears have subsided. And, as the “telcos” predicted, the arrival of 5G smartphones and the availability of 5G networks have spurred the consumer switch.

3 million subscribers in France

5G is now a “standard feature” on smartphones, even James Manning Smith, an analyst at CCS Insight, estimates. According to the firm, nearly one in two phones sold this year will be a 5G model. This is despite the supply difficulties that are weighing on manufacturers and the inflation that is putting a strain on consumer budgets.

Certainly, today, the vast majority of 5G users are in China. But other geographies are catching up, particularly North America and, to a lesser extent, Europe. In France, 5G will be available by the end of 2021 3 million customers, according to Arcep, the telecom regulator. That’s 4% of mobile packages in France. This figure is growing rapidly. Orange, for example, claims that 25% of its mobile customers have switched to 5G.

+30% more data per year

For telecom operators, this is good news in two ways. Slightly more expensive 5G plans allow them to start to make the billions of euros invested in these new networks profitable.

In addition, 5G allows them to relieve the current 4G networks threatened with saturation by the exponential increase in traffic. “In France, data is increasing by 30% per year. In eight years, the volume has increased tenfold,” explains Benoît Torloting, CEO of Bouygues Telecom. With 5G, we are doubling the size of the highway.”

The number of 5G subscribers will continue to grow as operators densify their networks. According to CCS Insight, 5G will have 4 billion subscribers by 2026, or 45% of the total. It will then be a “near-mature” technology in North America and Europe. In contrast, a later transition will occur in India, the Middle East and Africa, where 2G-3G-4G is still dominant.