CCS Insight Predicts 1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China

5G to take off faster than any previous mobile technology

China is set to take an early lead in 5G and stay in pole position; even by 2025, it will account for more than 40 percent of the world's 5G connections

Most 5G connections will be on smartphones and other mobile devices; much-touted uses such as mission-critical services and fixed wireless access will stay niche for many years

London, 18 October: The booming Chinese market is set to ensure that 5G is quicker out of the starting blocks than any previous mobile technology, according to CCS Insight's 5G forecast, published today. The forecast predicts that 5G connections will reach 1 billion worldwide in mid-2023, taking less time than 4G to reach this milestone.

As early as 2022, China will account for more than half of all 5G subscribers. Even by 2025 — following deployment in most world regions — it will still represent more than four in ten 5G connections globally. South Korea, Japan and the US are fighting it out to be the first to launch commercial 5G networks, but China will take an early lead in the number of subscribers. Despite the EU's lofty ambitions, network roll-out in Europe will trail by at least a year.

Marina Koytcheva, VP Forecasting at CCS Insight said: "We see China playing a far more influential role in 5G than it did in 4G. Size, scale and economic growth give China an obvious head start, but we expect network deployments to be much faster than in the early days of 4G. China will dominate 5G thanks to its political ambition to lead technology development, the inexorable rise of local manufacturer Huawei and the breakneck speed at which consumers have upgraded to 4G connections in the recent past."

In the longer term, CCS Insight sees 5G adoption taking a broadly similar path to 4G LTE technology. Subscriptions to 5G networks will reach 2.6 billion in 2025, equivalent to more than one in every five mobile connections. However, CCS Insight cautions there are still some uncertainties. These include how and where network operators will deploy vast numbers of new base stations, the lack of clear business case for operators, and consumers' willingness to upgrade their smartphones. In Europe, market fragmentation, the availability of spectrum and the influence of regulators bring additional challenges.

CCS Insight sees mobile broadband access on smartphones as the principal area of 5G adoption. By 2025, it will still represent a colossal 99 percent of total 5G connections, according to the forecast.

Kester Mann, Principal Analyst, Operators at CCS Insight said: "The unrelenting hype that has surrounded 5G for several years has seen a diverse range of applications put forward as the main drivers of adoption. Some of them will be relevant at different times of the technology's development, but the never-ending need for speed and people's apparently limitless demand for video consumption will dominate 5G networks."

Nevertheless, CCS Insight sees fixed wireless access, positioned as a complementary service to fixed-line broadband, as 5G's first commercial application. The US will be an early adopter, boosted by leading advocates like AT&T and Verizon. However, the long-term opportunity will remain small and the forecast sees it representing only a tiny fraction of total connections.

Despite the industry's seeming obsession that in the future everything will be connected, 5G will account for a relatively low number of connections in the Internet of Things (IoT) during the forecast period. Here, 4G networks will satisfy demand until narrowband technology is fully supported within the 5G standard. Network operators have only recently begun investing in LTE technologies such as NB-IoT and Cat-M to support devices that have life spans of several years. Significant numbers of 5G connections in this area are unlikely before the second half of the 2020s, according to the forecast.

Lastly, so-called "mission critical" services such as autonomous driving — regularly touted as a "killer" application in 5G — will have to wait even longer to come to the fore.

Geoff Blaber, VP Research, Americas at CCS Insight comments: "5G is about creating a network that can scale up and adapt to radically new applications. For operators, network capacity is the near-term justification; the Internet of Things (IoT) and mission-critical services may not see exponential growth in the next few years but they remain a central part of the vision for 5G. Operators will have to carefully balance the period between investment and generating revenue from new services".

The chart below provides a summary of CCS Insight's 5G forecast.

5G subscriptions, 2018-2025
Source: CCS Insight Market Forecast: 5G Subscriptions, 2018-2015

Click on the image above for a larger version or click here for a PDF version.

Notes to editors

CCS Insight's 5G forecast provides data on connections in major geographic regions and by each type of application. It includes assumptions and explanation of the forecast. The forecast is a new report on this emerging technology. It forms part of a suite of research services on 5G technology, including a quarterly analaysis of developments in the area.

About CCS Insight

CCS Insight is a global analyst company focussing on mobile communications and the Internet. It provides comprehensive services that are tailored to meet the needs of individual clients, helping them make sense of the connected world. Follow @CCSInsight on Twitter or learn more at www.ccsinsight.com.

For further information contact:
Hollie Bridgland
Harvard PR
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7861 2842
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Qualcomm takes aim at the server silicon market with Centriq 2400 https://t.co/GziZl8sPP6 https://t.co/6yUxnilCsr
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Good day today. At the @TheO2 watching @rogerfederer and @JackGrealish1 on the bench for @AVFCOfficial at @QPRFC.
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Think we’ll be seeing a lot more capabilities added to HomePod beyond high end audio when it finally shows up. Very… https://t.co/qjDDoK8rS9
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
@Google TensorFlow Lite launched in beta: https://t.co/MtHWGweD32. Late, but strong competitor to Azure IoT Edge an… https://t.co/FQi4JKOvOK
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
RT @mikeddano: . @sprint COO of Technology @guengott68 is leaving the company just a week after @Son_Softbank promised to triple Sprint's c…
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@EisenTV @CCSInsight Ah! I thought I said "brief success" :)
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
RT @lbcbreaking: AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young has died aged 64, the band has announced.
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
@SpringhamJustin Shame they don’t play like that every week!
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
RT @CCSInsight: A leading Western operator adopts a radical new business model by 2021 #ccspredicts https://t.co/4TfM8XpeSN
Follow Kester
Laura Simeonova
RT @CCSInsight: Optimization for artificial intelligence defines competitiveness in mobile chipsets in 2019 and beyond #ccspredicts https:/…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
RT @guardianscience: Scientists make first ever attempt at gene editing inside the body https://t.co/e8u0BT9a09
Follow Katie
Tony Worthington
Thoroughly enjoyed speaking at #ccspredicts event today. They get better every year. Keep it going Team CCS! https://t.co/6A5hQF9ESR
Follow Tony

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Mobile Scale, from Device to Data Centre Taking Advantage of a Colossal Market The technology indu... Read more
Blog Post
Multi-Gigabit Wi-Fi Comes of Age Faster Wi-Fi in an Age of Gigabit LTE Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi... Read more
Blog Post
Uber Partners with NASA Ride-Hailing Company Envisions Flying Cars Uber moved a ste... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
CCS Insight Predicts 1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China 5G to take off faster than any previous mobile technology ... Read more
More news

CCS Insight on

Watch the CCS Insight channel on YouTube. > Follow us now