Forecast: 5G to top half-billion connections by YE

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Global wireless 5G connections have reached 438 million by the third quarter of 2021 and are on pace to exceed 540 million by the end of the year, according to data from research firm Omdia, reports 5G Americas, the wireless industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas.

“Despite challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic issues, 5G uptake continues at a fast pace as communications and connectivity have taken centre stage,” notes Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas.

According to the most recent data from Omdia, the world added 72 million 5G connections between Q2 and Q3 of 2021, increasing 19.6 per cent from 366 million to 438 million, reflecting a downward re-statement of connections from Q2. At this pace of growth, 5G is expected to more than double the number of connections in 2020 and is forecast to reach 540 million globally by the end of the calendar year.

Looking forward, Omdia estimates global 5G connections reaching 4.8 billion by the end of 2026. Of that, 516 million is expected to come from North America and 301 million from Latin America and the Caribbean.

“While Oceania Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, which includes China, will account for more than half of all 5G subscriptions at the end of 2026, the Americas region will manage to carve out a 17 per cent portion after growing 1,000 per cent from 2021 to 2026,” advises Omdia principal analyst Kristin Paulin.

By region, North America had a total of 56.5 million 5G connections by the end of Q3 2021, which is an addition of 12.5 million 5G connections – a gain of 28 per cent quarter over quarter. Additionally, it had 505 million LTE connections by the end of Q3 2021.

4G LTE still remains the dominant wireless cellular technology in Latin America and the Caribbean with 484.6 million connections. That represents 21 per cent annual growth with the addition of 82.8 million new LTE subscriptions year over year.

“With 16 commercial deployments in the Caribbean and Latin America region, 5G continues to make progress,” reports Jose Otero, Vice President of Caribbean and Latin America for 5G Americas. “In the upcoming years, as more spectrum, enhanced coverage and devices become available, 5G connections will increase substantially in the region.”

Overall, the number of 5G commercial networks has reached 185, according to data from TeleGeography and 5G Americas. That number is expected to reach 220 by the end of 2021 and 329 by the end of 2023, representing strong 5G network investment growth in many regions throughout the world. The number of 5G and 4G LTE network deployments are summarised below:

5G:

  • Global: 185
  • North America: 10
  • Caribbean and Latin America: 16

4G LTE:

  • Global: 693
  • North America: 19
  • Caribbean and Latin America: 127

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