5G Early Adopters Show Solid Growth Amid Initial Network Buildouts

Early adopters of 5G technology have begun to take advantage of numerous initial 5G network rollouts in 2019, according to 5G Americas, the wireless industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas. According to data from Ovum, there are now four million 5G connections globally as of the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 166% over the second quarter.

According to Chris Pearson, President, 5G Americas, Early adopters in 5G technology are testing the waters to see what their devices can do with the new technology. Service providers are now starting to take advantage of new capabilities being offered by several 5G networks that have come online over the past quarter. They are expecting to see a strong ramp up in 2020 as more devices become available and coverage expands throughout the world.

According to the data from TeleGeography, there are now 50 commercial 5G networks globally, which adhere to 3GPP standards. That number is expected to increase to 67 5G commercial networks by the end of 2019.

At the same time, LTE gained an additional 250 million subscriber connections globally in the third quarter of 2019 to reach 5 billion connections worldwide, fueled by customers migrating from older 3G and 2G technologies. LTE added approximately 1 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.

LTE continues its growth in Latin America and the Caribbean as the technology increases its geographic coverage, lower cost smartphones become available, and operators adopt strategies seeking to migrate subscribers to LTE that until recently were using second and third generation services. Looking forward, data from Ovum estimates the number of 5G subscribers will accelerate rapidly through the end of 2019, reaching 12.9 million connections. That number is expected to reach 1.3 billion or 12.9% global market share in 2023.

Upcoming spectrum auctions in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Uruguay could accelerate the deployment of LTE in the region increasing the technology’s potential addressable market. The region has launched three 5G commercial networks and could have more by the end of 2019. According to TeleGeography, the following number of networks using wireless technologies have been deployed as of December 11, 2019.

  • 5G: 50
  • LTE: 664
North America: 
  • 5G: 4
  • LTE: 19
Latin America & Caribbean:
  • 5G: 3
  • LTE: 125

5G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. 5G Americas has invested in developing a connected wireless community while leading 5G development for all the Americas.