LTE still growing fast, but 5G ‘will reach 1.3bn’ in 2023
Nearly half of all mobile connections are now LTE 4G and this technology will continue to grow for three more years, despite the arrival of 5G.
In 2022 there will be 6 billion LTE connections worldwide, according to 5G Americas, the industry lobby group that has put together statistics from TeleGeography and Ovum (see chart).
Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, said: “While the 5G market reality and innovation are upon us, the number of LTE connections continue to grow on 637 commercial networks worldwide, as well as the evolution to advanced LTE networks for the internet of things, gigabit LTE speeds and new methods for spectrum use and sharing.”
There were 4 billion LTE connections at the end of 2018, say Pearson’s statistics – meaning the technology will grow another 50% overall by the time it peaks in 2022.
In the following year, 2023, there will be 1.3 billion 5G connections out of a total of 10 billion connected devices – including about a billion GSM connections, the 2G technology that dates back 20 years.
North America’s market share for LTE at 82% exceeded all other world regions at the end of 2018. The next highest world regions are Oceania, eastern and south-eastern Asia with an LTE share of 67% – followed by western Europe at 52%.
Latin America and the Caribbean had a significant growth of LTE market share to 40%, up from 29% at the end of 2017.
According one of 5G Americas’ data sources, TeleGeography, LTE was deployed on 637 networks worldwide in March 2018, of which 294 are LTE-Advanced.
In the US and Canada, LTE penetration passed 100% in 2018, meaning there is more than one device per person. LTE achieved 417 million connections with a market share of 82% in the two countries.
This penetration rate is forecast to rise to 125% in 2021 after which time new 5G connections will begin to impact LTE subscriptions and penetration rates.
Following early launches of 5G in the US, there will be 336,000 connections this year, says 5G Americas, quoting Ovum statistics. This will put the US in the number one position globally with 47% of all 5G connections. Growth will be fast in North America, reaching a forecast 4 million next year and 100 million in 2022.