Global 5G Update – Q4 2021

5G deployments have started gaining pace around the world. While there is a lot of noise, there is quite a bit of progress with real network launches, handset introductions, consumer adoption, new applications and services. Chetan Sharma Consulting started Global 5G Update research service to help executives make informed, strategic and business decisions, to understand the trends and how they might shape their product roadmaps. There are three countries leading the way – China, Korea, and the US with Japan coming in as the fourth country behind the top 3. 5G is a unique cycle. Operators need to be really strategic about how they deploy CAPEX and plan new revenue generation 4th Wave strategies. The structure of the wireless industry is likely to look quite different coming out of the 5G cycle than going in. There are early indications of how this might pan out but operators, regulators, and the encompassing ecosystem needs to adjust to the new realities, fast.

The global 5G subscriber base crossed 500M in Q4 2021 which is at a 3x faster pace compared to 4G global adoption. During Q4 2021, the global subscriber base grew 22% with China accounting for roughly 68% of the global subscriber base. From the start, we have been saying that Korea will lead in % penetration, China in total subscribers, and US will lead in revenue. All these nations will continue to lead in these respective categories. No major market will be able to catch any of the three leaders in their respective dimensions. We are starting to see the impact of 5G on postpaid phone ARPU across multiple nations now. US, China, South Korea and now Japan are the top four nations to pass the $2 Billion/quarter mark in 5G revenues. China Mobile has the greatest number of 5G global subs. Korea predictably leads in subscriber penetration became the first nation to touch the 33% penetration threshold. It is also the first country to have 5G contribute to almost 63% of its mobile data traffic. US operators have been expanding their networks to get the 5G icon working. Hundreds of 5G handsets are entering into the ecosystem. However, the real competition will be in the new billion-dollar revenue streams that get created. For ecosystem players who seek to develop a platform based on 5G, the work is just starting.

Global 5G Update provides strategic insights and a snapshot of the salient points on 5G progress in Q4 2021:

  • 5G in Q4 2021
    • Overview
    • Summary
    • 5G Race
    • Subs and Penetration
  • 5G Data Consumption
  • Does 5G Increase ARPU?
    • 5G Revenue
  • 5G Progress
    • China
    • Korea
    • Japan
    • US
    • Rest of the World


Editorial Notes:

Chetan Sharma Consulting Research Papers and Quarterly Updates have long shaped the industry dialog. Based on reader feedback and demand, we are pleased to announce that the papers and updates are now available as part of the subscription service. You can send a note to to inquire about pricing.