5G technology is gaining momentum with numerous initial 5G network rollouts in 2019, according to 5G Americas, a wireless industry trade association that promotes 5G and LTE for the Americas.

As of Q3 2019, there are now 4 million 5G connections globally; an increase of 166% over the second quarter, according to research firm Ovum, 5G Americas said.

SEE: 5G mobile networks: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“Early adopters in 5G technology are testing the waters to see what their devices can do on the new technology,” and they are taking advantage of new capabilities now being offered by several 5G networks that have come online over the past quarter, said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, in a statement. “We expect to see a strong ramp up in 2020 as more devices become available and coverage expands throughout the world.”

There are now 50 commercial 5G networks globally that adhere to 3GPP standards. That number is expected to increase to 67 5G commercial networks by the end of 2019, according to data from market research and consulting firm TeleGeography.

During the same time, LTE gained an additional 250 million subscriber connections globally in the third quarter of 2019 to reach five billion connections worldwide, fueled by customers migrating from older 3G and 2G technologies, 5G Americans said. LTE added approximately one billion new connections from the third quarter of 2018 to third quarter of 2019. From Q2 to Q3, LTE saw strong growth from the Americas region with the addition of 28 million connections, led by Latin America and the Caribbean, which gained 17 million new LTE connections.

Looking forward, the number of 5G subscribers will accelerate rapidly through the end of the year, reaching 12.9 million connections, 5G Americas reported, citing estimates from Ovum. That number is expected to reach 1.3 billion, or 12.9% global market share in 2023.

Overall, the following number of networks using wireless technologies have been deployed as of Dec. 11, 2019, according to TeleGeography:


  • 5G: 50

  • LTE: 664

North America:

  • 5G: 4

  • LTE: 19

Latin America & Caribbean:

  • 5G: 3

  • LTE: 125

Some 5G use cases

  • Cloud Gaming: Cloud gaming represents a fundamental change in gaming because it shifts the computationally intensive graphics rendering and processing from the user’s device to network servers. 5G low latency connectivity enabled by edge servers will be required to deliver enhanced cloud gaming services on mobile devices.

  • Smart Grid: Two-way communication networks for the electricity grid will allow wirelessly connected devices to remotely detect, monitor, and adjust electricity usage and power consumption. 5G will be a catalyst, allowing networks to provide the required throughput and ultra-low latencies essential for smart grid applications.

  • Extended Reality (XR) – Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR): 5G will help expand the XR market.
  • Non-Terrestrial Networks with 5G: The aerospace industry is on the precipice of a revolution as a result of innovation and investment in the areas of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and High-Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) systems. LEO and HAPS systems represent a new opportunity for network operators to establish Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) to serve many different use cases that would otherwise be difficult with traditional earth networks.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): Ultra-low latency is a key requirement for 5G and coupled with robotics will usher in a new era of remote medicine, factory robotics, and drones – or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). 5G will enhance UAV capabilities and traffic management system (UTM) operations.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare, specifically telemetry, is one of the leading IoT use cases expected to deliver the fastest spending growth over the 2017-2022 forecast period. New treatment devices will rely on 5G’s ultra-reliable low latency communication (URLLC) and time synchronization capabilities to support accurate and timely information sharing and control. Tasks may include sharing video, diagnostics, controlling an insulin pump and performing a robotic surgery.

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