Deloitte researchers believe that the fifth-generation (5G) mobile network is unlikely to be adopted rapidly, with the technology likely to be relatively niche as far as 2025.
The professional services firm’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2019 report, suggests 4G/LTE will remain the predominant mobile communication technology for the foreseeable future – despite the nearing rollout date of 5G networks.
By the end of 2020, 5G handset sales are predicted to only cover about one percent (somewhere in between 15 and 20 million units) of smartphone sales. Deloitte predicts that it won’t be until 2021 that 5G technology will take off and reach sales of more than 100 million. Citing figures from the GSMA, an association representing mobile operators worldwide, Deloitte said usage of older 4G technology will not surpass 50 percent of all subscribers globally until 2023 – which is nearly 14 years after the first 4G networks were launched.
In the report, Deloitte comments, “This means that 5G will likely still be a relatively niche technology even in 2025, with its forecast 1.2 billion connections making up only 14% of the total number of mobile, non-Internet of Things connections worldwide… Considerable variance will be seen across countries: 49 percent of all American subscribers are expected to be 5G by that year, 45 percent in Japan, 31 percent in Europe and 25 percent in China, but only single-digit percentages in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.”
Despite its gloomy forecast for 5G’s initial adoption rate, Deloitte emphasized that it is the “connectivity technology of the future”.
“Although its adoption curve may be relatively shallow in the next 12-24 months, and it will likely take years for 5G to replicate 4G’s marketplace dominance, many telecommunications operators have a strong incentive to jump on the 5G bandwagon for reasons of speed, latency, penetration and (especially) capacity. When that happens, it should be a much faster world.”