Industry trade association 5G Americas says there will be 336,000 mobile 5G connections in North America by the end of next year, growing rapidly to 186 million connections in 2023, according to a new forecast by Ovum.
The four largest carriers in the U.S. all plan to offer 5G service in 2019, with AT&T announcing the commercial launch of its next-generation network just yesterday. Still, the scope of that launch is limited and many have said it amounts more to testing, as the carrier is only offering its 5G service using Netgear’s 5G mobile hotspot to certain consumers and businesses for a free 90-day trial. AT&T said it will start charging $70 per month for 15 GB of data in spring of next year.
Though small, the Ovum’s 5G connections forecast for 2019 will represent 47 percent of total global 5G connections at that time.
Ovum predicts that in 2021 5G connections in North America will hit 32 million, representing 6 percent of mobile connections in the region. 5G connections are forecast to grow swiftly, reaching 186 million two years later, accounting for 32 percent of the region’s total connections in 2023.
“5G is in the initial stages of commercial deployment in the U.S. with big plans by all four national service providers,” said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, in a statement. “5G technology deployments represent a transformational time for innovation as our industry enables new applications and services.”
Globally, Ovum forecasts 5G will climb from less than 1 million mobile connections globally in 2019 to more than 156 million in 2021, and soar to 1.3 billion by 2023.
The firm predicts there will be 10 billion total mobile connections globally by the end of the forecast period. LTE will continue to see growth around the world through 2022, at which point Ovum estimates there will be 6 billion LTE connections, making up 61 percent of market share.
“Growth of LTE is unabated, as LTE added 239 million connections worldwide in the third quarter of 2018,” stated Kristin Paulin, senior analyst at Ovum, in a statement. “Ovum forecasts that LTE will continue to grow well into 2022 and we will see a decline in subscriptions beginning around 2023 due to 5G growth. Regardless, GSM, HSPA and LTE will still be deployed worldwide in 2023.”
With an already high LTE penetration rate and early 5G deployments underway, LTE connections are forecast to decline earlier in North America, peaking at about 473 million connections at the end of 2020, including M2M.
In the third quarter of 2018, LTE penetration rate in North America was at 107 percent, according to Ovum, with 390 million LTE connections, up 51 million year-over-year.
In the U.S. and Canada LTE connections currently account for 78 percent of market share, higher than Oceania, Eastern and Southeastern Asia (65 percent) and Western Europe (50 percent).