Global 5G connections reach 17.7M, LTE connections exceed 5.3B: Report

Omdia: From Q3 2019 to Q4 2019, 5G’s global connections experienced a 329% growth

Fueled by the rollout of 3GPP-standard commercial networks, 5G is officially considered the fastest growing generation of cellular technology as it is now roughly 5 million subscribers ahead of pace, according to Omdia. Omdia’s report indicated that from Q3 2019 to Q4 2019, 5G experienced a 329% growth. Further, the report projects that by the end of 2020, 5G connections will reach 91 million globally.

Of those 91 million connections, it is expected that 13.9 million of them will be in North America, while Latin America and the Caribbean will account for an additional 1.5 million subscribers by the end of the year.

However, as 5G continues to spread across the world, so too do LTE connections. By the end of 2020, global 4G LTE connections are expected to reach 5.9 billion, of which 513 million (6.1% annual growth) will come from North America and 397 million (8.6% annual growth) will come from Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to 5G Americas, customer subscriptions are one of the biggest catalysts for 5G’s impressive growth.

Regionally by the end of 2019, North America had 587,000 5G connections and 483 million LTE connections. In Q4 2019, North America continued with robust subscription additions of 434,000 5G connections (284% Q3 to Q4) and 13 million LTE connections (2.7% Q3 to Q4) across the region. Latin America and the Caribbean ended 2019 with 1,237 5G subscriptions (314% Q3 to Q4) and 366 million LTE subscriptions (5.4% Q3 to Q4 growth), respectively.

Chris Pearson, president, 5G Americas called 2019 “a great year,” adding that 5G adoption surpassed forecasts.

“2020 is shaping up to be focused on the growth of new 5G devices, increasing coverage, increasing network densification, and probably the first 5G Stand Alone deployments,” he said.

In a previous conversation with RCR Wireless News, Pearson stated, “As we progress quickly and globally, we [could]reach over 1 billion 5G connections by 2023.”

When compared to previous cellular communication technologies like LTE, which has now reached 5.3 billion connections after ten years of operation, it becomes clear how rapid 5G adoption is. LTE became commercially available in the last quarter of 2009, but it was initially used by approximately 1,000 customers in Western Europe. The next year, North America added 20,000 more LTE customers, bringing the total number of global connections to 23,250.

But, it took until the beginning of 2012 for 4G LTE to match 5G’s reach today—17.9 million connections. Further, 3G took 11 quarters to achieve those numbers, while 2G took 14 quarters.

Below is number of networks using wireless technologies that have been deployed as of March 16, 2020 as reported by TeleGeography:

Global: 

  • 5G: 59
  • LTE Advanced: 321
  • LTE: 672

North America: 

  • 5G: 6
  • LTE Advanced: 9
  • LTE: 19

Latin America & Caribbean:

  • 5G: 5*
  • LTE Advanced: 48
  • LTE: 126

*Source: TeleGeography and 5G Americas

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