5G goes live in 15 commercial standardised networks worldwide: Global LTE connections rise to 4.4bn

5G, using 3GPP standardised wireless technology, has been commercially deployed by 15 mobile network operators worldwide, according to 5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas and TeleGeography (GlobalComms Database). There will be an additional 47 launches of 5G technology expected before the end of 2019 for a total of more than 62 live 5G networks.

LTE will provide the solid foundation for 5G. Already, more than half of all the mobile wireless technology connections worldwide are LTE technology, with a reported 51% market share at the first quarter of 2019, providing 4G mobile broadband access to a large portion of the world’s population with 4.4 billion global connections, according to data from Ovum.

“LTE continues its momentum worldwide, at the same time that 5G becomes a commercial reality in many parts of the world,” said Chris Pearson, president, 5G Americas. “The mobile wireless industry has worked hard to provide technical innovation for both LTE and 5G for the benefit of customers globally.”

Chris Pearson

LTE is currently deployed on 646 networks worldwide according to TeleGeography. In addition to growth in LTE deployments and connections, the LTE technology evolution continues to expand with 299 LTE-Advanced networks worldwide at 1Q 2019. In addition, although not publicised to any great extent, 60 networks may be considered LTE-Advanced Pro; 58 of which have deployed Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and/or LTE for Machine-Type Communications (LTE-M) 3GPP Release 13 technology features for the Internet of Things.

“The Cellular Internet of Things is future-proofed by 3GPP standards, with many different use cases enabled by Narrowband-IoT and LTE-M, as we fully enter the massive Internet of Things era,” stated Vicki Livingston, vice president, Communications, 5G Americas. “These 4G LTE IoT technologies will form the foundation of the future success of 5G IoT services with Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications requirements for smart factories, connected car, public safety and other critical communications.”

1Q 2019 – North America

LTE metrics for the U.S. and Canada continue to show regional leadership. LTE achieved 445 million connections and reached 121% penetration of the total population or 1.2 connections per person as of March 2019 compared to 140% overall wireless technology penetration. This is the highest penetration rate for LTE of any region in the world.

Comparatively, North America’s market share for LTE at 87% far exceeds all other world regions; the next highest world regions are the Oceania, Eastern and South Eastern Asia region with LTE share of 70% followed by Western Europe at 54% (data by Ovum).

North America is also among the world’s leading 5G innovators with three national operators offering live 5G services in numerous markets across the country and a fourth expected deployment this year. According to U.S. President Donald Trump, a proponent of 5G technology leadership for the country, there will be 92 U.S. cities with 5G services at the end of 2019.

  • LTE NB-IoT and/or LTE-M has been deployed by 5 U.S. and Canada operators
  • LTE is forecast to reach 473 million connections at the end of 2020 (including M2M)
  • 5G connections are forecast to reach 4 million by the end of 2020 and increase to 186 million by the end of 2023

1Q 2018 – Latin America and the Caribbean

“Antel in Uruguay has launched the first 5G network in the region, with more 5G planned deployments to come, as Latin America and Caribbean operators continue to invest in advanced network deployments for LTE,” commented Jose Otero, vice president, Latin America and the Caribbean, 5G Americas. “With the support of governments in the region by providing more licensed and globally harmonised spectrum, the momentum and societal benefits provided by LTE and 5G will continue.”

LTE’s market share increased to 44% at the 1Q 2019, and is forecast to be the most widely used cellular technology in the region by the end of 2020.

  • 698 million total mobile wireless subscriptions including 306 million LTE connections
  • LTE is forecast to reach 348 million connections at the end of 2019 (forecast includes M2M)
  • By the end of 2022, LTE is forecast to reach half a billion connections (forecast includes M2M)

1Q 2018 – Global

At the end of March 2019, global LTE connections reached 4.4 billion and market share reached 51%. LTE connections are forecast to reach 6 billion by year-end 2022 (forecast includes M2M) and 61% share of market. 5G technology is forecast by Ovum to achieve 37 million by year end 2020, grow to 156 million by end of 2021 and then increase to more than half a billion in 2022. 5G Americas’ member company Ericsson has forecast that 5G subscriptions are expected to reach 1.9 billion in 2024.

The noteworthy development is that 3GPP standardised 5G technology has been launched in 15 markets globally with 62 expected total deployments by the end of 2019 (TeleGeography).

  • 5 5G networks are set to launch by end of 2Q (June) 2019
  • 11 5G networks are expected to launch by end of 3Q 2019
  • 13 5G networks are expected to launch by end of 2019
  • An additional 17 operators have announced plans for deployment of 5G in 2019
  • More than 100 operators have announced their 5G deployment plans in 2020 and beyond and are testing, trialing and building their networks in stages of planned deployments

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