A survey released on Thursday (24) by 5G Americas – sectoral association of mobile technologies for the Americas – points out that mobile operators continue to inaugurate new 5G networks, even with the number of new 5G subscriptions slowing down in some areas. According to data from TeleGeography, 30 new networks of the fifth generation of mobile internet started operating in the second quarter of 2020, totaling 138 million connections in the period in question, an increase of 116% compared to the previous quarter.
Also according to information from TeleGeography, today there are 114 commercial 5G networks in operation worldwide, a number that is expected to grow practically 100% to 204 by the end of 2020. The latest Ericsson Mobility Report of September 2020 states that 5G continues to support the growth of the wireless communication sector, with the global volume of data traffic, including fixed wireless access, growing 53% last year. In parallel, according to the Global Association of Mobile Suppliers (GSA), the market had 190 models of 5G devices by the end of August.
Promising growth until the end of 2020
For Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, there are still a significant number of new 5G networks coming into operation, despite the challenges of this last quarter, marked by the coronavirus pandemic. “Mobile operators are maintaining their investments in new 5G networks as part of their long-term plans,” said the executive.
In the short term, Omdia, a research consultancy specializing in IT, projects 236 million 5G connections worldwide by the end of 2020, of which 10 million are registered in North America. “According to our predictions, these numbers are expected to accelerate in the second half with the relaxation of social isolation, the expansion of the 5G network and the availability of new 5G devices,” said Kristin Paulin, senior analyst at Omdia.
Latin America and the Caribbean ended the quarter with 3,685 5G connections, growth of 25% in the quarterly comparison, and 378 million LTE connections (quarterly growth of 2%). According to Omdia’s projections, Latin America and the Caribbean should register 189,000 new connections by the end of 2020.
Latin America and North America
The following data, from TeleGeography, represents the number of networks operating in the world and in the Americas using 4G and 5G wireless technologies as of September 16, 2020:
LTE Advanced: 335
LTE Advanced: 12
Latin America and the Caribbean:
LTE Advanced: 49
From the figures above, Jose Otero, vice president of 5G Americas for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that 5G is breaking several records in Latin America and the Caribbean. “5G offers more speed than any other technology in the region and is the first to be included in the national development plans of several countries, such as Brazil, Chile and Colombia,” he said.
The executive also explained that “Uruguay was a pioneer, being only the third country in the world to build a 5G network; since then, six other countries in the region have started offering the service. Otero predicts that new networks should be announced over the next 12 months. And, according to data from Omdia, 5G should represent 23% of mobile lines in this region by 2025 ”.
In turn, North America recorded 2.3 million 5G connections and 497 million LTE connections by the end of the second quarter of 2020. This represents a 69% quarterly growth for 5G in this region, or nearly 1 million new ones. 5G connections during the quarter. The numbers also represent 1% quarterly growth for LTE, which attracted 4.6 million new subscribers during the quarter.
In addition to 5G, the global number of LTE connections is expected to continue to grow until the end of 2022 on the international market. 4G LTE is expected to reach 5.7 billion connections by the end of this year, with 506 million new connections from North America and 406 million from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Growth of 5G in the pandemic
Chris Pearson commented that due to the pandemic and the challenges it represents, different regions are temporarily experiencing different growth rates in the 5G subscriber base. “Growth remains strong in the North American market, while Latin America and the Caribbean are just beginning their journey,” he said.
However, even with the pandemic, the growth of 5G remains constant. Last June, 5G Americas said the number of connections and fifth generation mobile networks had more than 63.6 million connections worldwide in the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 308.66% compared to the previous quarter. The figures were released by Omdia.
Some regional differences were emerging due to the localized impact of the pandemic, despite the number of new 5G networks entering the market. At the time, Jose Otero, VP of 5G Americas for Latin America and the Caribbean stated that The telecommunications sector in Latin America and the Caribbean was beginning to feel the impact of COVID-19. “The volume of financial remittances from Europe and North America has slowed and, with many regional governments imposing rules of social isolation, the purchasing power of a large portion of the population has fallen,” said the executive.
Some Latin American and Caribbean governments have adjusted the terms of service and taxes levied on communications services to minimize the impact of the pandemic. “Logistical problems worldwide have led to a lack of devices and, consequently, a negative growth in the number of subscribers and less adoption of new technologies,” continues Otero. “All spectrum allocation processes must be delayed and no new network should be launched in that period until the situation normalizes ”.
In regional terms, North America recorded 1.18 million 5G connections and 494 million LTE connections at the end of the first quarter of 2020. This represents 100% growth for 5G, which gained 591 thousand connections of this standard during the period, and a 2.34% gain for LTE, adding 11.3 million connections of the kind in this quarter.