GSMA says North America will lead global 5G adoption

North America is set to be the leading market in the migration to 5G networks and services, according to the GSMA.

In its most recent report, Mobile Economy – North America, the GSMA predicts that 4G enabled smartphones will account for four out of five mobile connections in North America, higher than any other region, all by the year 2020. It also forecasts that the mobile industry will contribute an estimated $1 trillion to the US economy by the same year, equal to almost 5% of GDP.

Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, said: “The successful large-scale rollouts of 4G networks across the US and Canada, alongside strong consumer take-up of 4G-capable smartphones, has established North America as one of the most advanced mobile regions in the world, on a par with the most advanced markets in Europe and Asia. North American mobile subscribers are also highly engaged digital consumers, using their smartphones to access a broad range of services and content – and are set to become early adopters of 5G services in areas such as ultra-HD video, AR/VR, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.”

In addition, the report found that there was 291 million unique mobile subscribers in the region by the end of 2016. This amounts to roughly 80% of the region’s population and is expected to rise to 84% or 313 million by 2020. These consumers resulted in a nine-fold increase in US mobile data traffic between 2012 and 2016. Financially North America is estimated to be worth $250 billion accounting for more than a fifth of global operator revenue. 

By the end of 2016, North America had the highest smartphone and 4G adoption rates globally standing at 78% and 63% respectively, with forecasters predicting this to grow to 81% and 84% by 2020. By this time, operators are expected to have launched 5G networks and by 2025 half of the region are expected to be running on 5G. Fixed wireless is set to be the initial use case for early 5G roll outs with full standardised 5G services predicted to follow in 2019.