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More than 1 billion globally to have access to 5G by the year-end

In India, 27% of mobile subscriptions will be 5G by the end of 2026, says the latest Ericsson Mobility Report

In 2026, 60% of the world’s population will have access to 5G coverage, a new report estimates. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong) (AP)

The adoption of 5G is picking up pace globally, despite the uncertainties caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Four out of every 10 mobile subscriptions in 2026 will be 5G, according to the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, which was released on 30 November. By the end of this year, more than 1 billion people – approximately 15% of the world’s population – will be living in an area that has 5G coverage, it estimates. At the end of 2019, that figure was around 5%.

In 2026, 60% of the world’s population will have access to 5G coverage, with 5G subscriptions forecast to reach 3.5 billion. In India, 5G will represent around 27% of mobile subscriptions at the end of 2026, estimated at about 350 million subscriptions.

LTE technology, which remains a dominant presence in 2020 in the country, will represent 63% of mobile subscriptions in 2026 as well, with 3G expected to be phased out by that time, the report explains.

Another important trend highlighted in the report is the emergence and continuing growth of the mobile cloud gaming market and game streaming services. While the mobile cloud gaming market is still in its infancy, it could benefit largely from the broader mobile games market and the evolving capabilities of 4G and 5G networks, the report explains.

There are more than 2.4 billion mobile gamers globally today -- Asia being the biggest market with over $41 billion in revenue. Mobile games generate about 50% of the total global gaming industry revenues. Last year, 33% of all app downloads worldwide related to mobile games. The adoption of 5G is expected to drive this growth further, and mobile cloud gaming could be a big winner, the repor.

Game streaming services, which were initially targeted at just PC and console gamers, could also benefit from the expanding presence of 5G. “The combined capabilities provided by 5G networks and edge compute technologies will enable game streaming services on smartphones with a quality of experience (QoE) on a par with PC or console, and also open up for innovative, immersive mobile games based on mobility,” the report adds. Game streaming is immensely popular in India too, with esports players and professional gamers using everything from YouTube to dedicated game-streaming apps platforms like Twitch to engage with their audience. There’s no doubt that India is slowly becoming one of the biggest priority gaming markets in the world.

The effect of 5G on game streaming can also be understood better by looking at the gaming market in South Korea, which is ranked the fourth largest mobile gaming market after the US, China and Japan. Users spend an average of 96 minutes a day on weekdays, and 121 minutes per day on weekends, playing mobile games. According to the report, the three main South Korean communications service providers have teamed up with major international gaming service providers, offering subscription-based mobile cloud game streaming services. “For two of these subscriptions, it is not necessary to be a mobile subscriber to the specific communications service provider. All three communications service providers also provide access to their own portfolio of streaming and downloadable games,” the report explains.

One can only wonder how big an impact 5G would have on game streaming services in India, where mobile gaming is one of the fastest growing sectors and is showing no signs of slowing down.

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