Commercial 5G deployments and subscriptions increasing worldwide

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and general economic downturn, mobile network operators are bringing more 5G networks online, according to new data.

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The technology industry has not been felled by COVID-19 and the resultant economic lows. Industries across the board are reliant on tech on a daily basis, as are consumers who depend on the ability to connect with friends, family, and associates. Mobile network operators set aside concerns for the slight slowdown of new 5G subscribers in some areas, and are pushing forward with continuing to deploy 5G networks online.

The wireless industry trade association 5G Americas just released a report co-published with Rysavy Research that revealed for Q2 2020 30 new 5G networks went live. The total of global 5G commercial networks has reached 114, as confirmed by data from TeleGeography

In the past year, global network data traffic (including fixed wireless access) grew 53% over the past year, according to the September 2020 Ericsson Mobility Report. Further, Q2 data from Omdia showed nearly 138 million global 5G connections, which is a 116% bump from Q1 2020.

To meet this demand and to diversify ways of delivery, there were 190 commercial 5G devices available globally at the end of August 2020, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

SEE: Hiring Kit: 5G Wireless System Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

More growth expected for 5G networks

Omdia doesn't see that growth stalling; in fact, the tech research company predicts that by the end of 2020, there will be 236 million global 5G connections, and North America will represent 10 million connections. A senior analyst at Omdia, Kristin Paulin, said in a press release, "We expect growth to pick up in the second half of the year, following the easing of lockdowns as well as continued 5G network expansion and the availability of more 5G devices."

In the same press release, the president of 5G Americas, Chris Pearson, said, "The pace of new commercial 5G network launches has remained healthy through the challenging quarter, as mobile network operators continue to build 5G networks for the long-term."

Pearson added, "Different regions around the world are temporarily experiencing significantly different rates of 5G subscriber growth, due to the pandemic and economic challenges it has caused. North American growth continues strong, while the Caribbean and Latin American markets are just getting started."

Omdia reported that by the end of Q2 2020:

  • North America had 2.3 million 5G connections;
  • there were 497 million LTE connections;
  • there was 69% quarterly growth in 5G (a gain of nearly one million 5G connections over the quarter);
  • there was 1% growth in LTE; and
  • there was a gain of 4.8 million LTE connections over the quarter.

For 2022 overall, 4G LTE connections are also expected to grow internationally, and it is expected these connections will reach 5.7 billion by the end of 2020--506 million of this will be from North America and 406 million from Latin America and the Caribbean.

SEE: Future of 5G: Projections, rollouts, use cases, and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

4G and 5G tech deployments in Q2 2020

The number of networks using 4G and 5G wireless tech that have been deployed globally and in the Americas, according to TeleGeography, are detailed below.

Global

  • 5G: 114
  • LTE Advanced: 335
  • LTE: 682

North America

  • 5G: 7
  • LTE Advanced: 12
  • LTE: 23

Latin American and Caribbean

  • 5G: 10
  • LTE Advanced: 49
  • LTE: 125

5G networks and subscriptions in Latin America and the Caribbean

For Q2 2020, Latin America saw 3,685 5G subscriptions, representing 25% sequential quarterly growth, and the Caribbean saw 378 million LTE subscriptions, a 2% QoQ (Quarter over Quarter) growth.

Omdia projections include that, by the end of 2020, the regions will account for another 189,000 5G connections.

"5G is breaking many records in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Jose Otero, vice president of Caribbean and Latin America for 5G Americas. "It is the fastest mobile technology to arrive in the region and the first one included as part of many governments' national development plans, including Brazil, Colombia, and Chile."

Otero added, "Uruguay led the way by being the third country in the world with a 5G network, and since then, six other countries in the region started offering services. We expect the announcement of more commercial operations in the next 12 months with 5G representing 23% of mobile lines in the region by 2025." 

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