India’s 5G subscriber base expected to reach 500 million by 2027

India’s 5G subscriber base expected to reach 500 million by 2027
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30 Nov, 2021

India will have 500 million 5G subscribers by 2027, accounting for 39% of all mobile subscriptions in the country, said the 2021 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, published on November 30. The report also noted that 5G subscriptions are expected to reach 4.4 billion globally by 2027, up from 660 million subscriptions at the end of this year. 

As more users migrate to 5G, the number of 4G subscribers in India is expected to decline from 790 million in 2021 to 710 million in 2027, falling at 2% annually, the report said. 

The move to 5G will also drive data consumption in the country. According to Ericsson, the average monthly data usage per smartphone in India, which is already the second-highest in the world, is expected to grow from 18.4 GB per month to 50 GB per month in 2027. The global average is expected to be 41 GB in 2027 up from 11.4 GB in 2021.

In terms of total mobile traffic, India is expected to grow more than four times from 12 exabytes (EB) per month in 2021 to reach 49 EB per month in 2027. One exabyte is equal to a billion gigabytes.

Ericsson analysts attributed this to high growth in the number of smartphone users in both urban and rural areas and an increase in average usage per smartphone. The report further shows that the number of smartphone users in India will grow from 810 million at the end of 2021 to 1.2 billion by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%. 

“A lot of this growth will depend on the market and how fast 5G is being rolled out. Markets with more 5G penetration by the end of this period will probably see more data use,” said Patrik Cerwall, head of strategic marketing and editor of Ericsson Mobility Report. 

The report showed that the rollout of 5G devices is outpacing 4G market share globally. Over 500 5G models have been launched so far and account for 23% of the global smartphone volumes after ten quarters into the technology cycle. Ericsson didn't elaborate on the share of 5G smartphones in India, however, according to a November report by market research firm Cybermedia Research (CMR), 5G smartphones accounted for 22% of the overall smartphones shipped in India during the July-September quarter.

Once 5G technology is made available in India, use cases on the consumer side will definitely follow, said Nitin Bansal, head of Ericsson India and head of network solutions, South East Asia, Oceania and India. 

“We have seen in our survey that 21% of consumers in India already own a 5G smartphone, which means 40 million users will take up 5G in the first year when it's available. We also saw that subscribers in India are willing to give up their existing fixed broadband and are willing to pay 50% more for 5G bundled plans and digital services,” Bansal added. 

India is expected to conduct 5G spectrum auctions sometime in the second half of 2022 after the Department of Telecom (DoT) extended the timeline for 5G trials by another 6 months early this month.

Bansal said that consumer adoption will drive 5G growth initially, but the technology will also be used by enterprises in the long run, which will develop more applications on a continuous basis.