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Ericsson predicts 1 billion 5G subscriptions in 2023

More than 20 percent of the world's population will have access to 5G mobile networks in the next five years.

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Flags with the logo of telecom equipment maker Ericsson flutter outside the company's headquarters in Stockholm.

Maja Suslin / AFP/Getty Images

Telecom equipment maker Ericsson predicts there will be at least 1 billion 5G subscriptions in 2023.

This is double the number of connections the company predicts for 2022, the company said in its semiannual Mobility Report.  

The technology is expected to be first deployed in dense urban areas. Ericsson said more than 20 percent of the world's population will have access to 5G by the end of 2023. Early 5G deployments are expected in several markets, including the US, South Korea, Japan and China.

5G stands for fifth-generation network technology. It's expected to transform our digital lives. Like other big leaps in mobile technology, it will increase download speeds that are around 100 times faster than today's cellular connections and 10 times faster than our speediest home broadband service. But it's also expected to accelerate new technologies like augmented reality, help self-driving cars send time-critical messages to one another, and link to the network everything from pollution sensors to health monitors.

The hype around 5G has been brewing for more than a year, but we're finally starting to see the early research and development bear fruit. 5G networks are expected to arrive in 2019. The earliest deployments will likely be "fixed wireless" connections, which bring fast broadband to your house without having to dig a trench for a fiber-optic cable. But chipmaker Qualcomm has also said 5G will come to your phone that year, too.

Ericsson also said in its semiannual report that demand for mobile data in general is surging. It expects 110 exabytes of data per month to travel over mobile networks by 2023. This equals about 5.5 million years of streaming HD video each month. Usage is soaring throughout the world. North America is leading the way with the highest average monthly usage, exceeding 7GB of data a month by the end of 2017.

Current generation 4G LTE networks are carrying most of this traffic. Ericsson said that by the end of this year, 4G LTE networks will be the dominant mobile access technology in the world. It's estimated to reach 5.5 billion subscriptions and cover more than 85 percent of the world's population by the end of 2023.

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