The world will see 5G wireless broadband subscriptions reach 190 million this year, surging to 2.8 billion in five years, according to a report by Swedish telecom giant Ericsson.
In Asean and Oceania, 5G subscriptions will surpass 270 million, accounting for 21% of all mobile subscriptions by 2025, lagging only 4G LTE technology, Ericsson Mobility Report indicated.
Nadine Allen, head of Ericsson Thailand, said the spread of Covid-19 is affecting people's daily life around the globe, with working or studying from home shifting network traffic from business areas to residential ones.
The report suggested mobile and fixed networks are playing a larger role as critical national infrastructure.
Speaking at a video conference about 5G trends yesterday, Ms Allen said although 5G subscription growth in some markets has slowed because of the pandemic, "this is outweighed by other markets where it is accelerating, prompting Ericsson to raise its year-end 2020 forecast for global 5G subscriptions".
5G was made for innovation and this crisis has highlighted the true value of connectivity and the role it can play in rebuilding economies, she said.
The data traffic per smartphone in Asean and Oceania is expected to reach 25 gigabytes by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33%, Ms Allen noted.
Traffic growth is driven by coverage build-out and continued adoption of 4G, linked to a rise in smartphone subscriptions and increases in average data usage per smartphone.
By 2025 total mobile data traffic in Asean is expected to reach 25 exabytes (EB) per month from an average of 3.2 EB per month, or a CAGR of 40%.
Citing a recent study by Ericsson Consumer Lab, Ms Allen said 83% of respondents in 11 countries indicate that ICT significantly helped them cope with the lockdown.
One-third plan to invest in 5G and improved broadband at home to be "better prepared for a potential second wave of Covid-19", she said.
Ms Allen said five consumer trends will underscore the post-Covid world.
First, 75% of the respondents value network resilience and internet connectivity as the most critical factor during the crisis. Second, 55% believe automated delivery drones or fleets of driverless cars will replace delivery people.
Third, 60% of working people believe working remotely will be the new normal and fourth, six times more consumers in the US expect to use real-time online health consultations compared with 2019.
Lastly, 70% of virtual reality users intend to spend more time on this technology.
Wuttichai Wutti-Udomlert, head of network solutions for Ericsson Thailand, said the company has the right 5G portfolio in place to enable customers to deploy 5G networks on all main frequency bands globally in the fastest and most efficient way.
"Exciting innovations in 5G for business will come with Internet of Things use cases as 5G opens up opportunities for operators," he said.