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Despite a slight decline in the worldwide mobile subscriber base resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, global mobile network operators have continued to expand their 5G network deployments, hitting 264 million subscriptions by the end of 2020, and set to reach 2.6 billion by 2026 says ABI Research.
Visilink 5G 2 Sep
The analyst’s Network Technology and Market Tracker market data report also forecast that the 5G market will continue to accelerate and make a significant contribution to total mobile operator revenue of US$942 billion.
Through heavy investment of local operators, China was found to be the key contributor of 5G market, generating more than two-thirds of the worldwide 5G subscriptions at present. The US was second in 5G adoption with more than 50 million subscribers, followed by leading markets Japan and South Korea.

Alongside 5G network roll outs, ABI found that mobile operators were rapidly implementing strategies to promote 5G adoption and boost revenue. It noted Verizon launching its "5G upgrade campaign", a promotional programme to encourage its customers to upgrade to 5G devices. It also cited China Mobile, launched a new set of applications such as 4K live streaming and cloud-based 5G games to drive the 5G user base and revenue.
The analyst added that as the 5G user base continues to increase, some operators have witnessed improvement in the mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) in recent quarters. Similarly, it expected 5G network deployments for industry verticals such as healthcare, automotive and smart transportation, industrial applications to drive mobile operator revenue in the years to come.

Another of the key dynamics was the surge in mobile traffic, mainly driven by the need to stay connected during the pandemic. ABI calculated that it surged almost 60% to exceed 591 exabytes in 2020 and forecasts that mobile traffic will expand more than 5 times in 2026 compared to 2020. More than half of mobile traffic will be generated by 5G networks.

"Increasing use of mobile networks to access video content, digital payments, online retail, and video conferencing have been contributing to the traffic growth,” said Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst of ABI Research commenting on the findings in the Network Technology and Market Tracker. “Ongoing 5G roll outs will drive the adoption of higher data packages as well as the use of data intensive applications such as video streaming and gaming to fuel mobile traffic growth in the forecast period.”