Global forecast 2023: 10 billion mobile connections including 1.3 billion 5G connections

5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, announced that global mobile connections will total ten billion by 2023 according to forecasts provided by Ovum. Also, by the end of 2023, global 5G connections are expected to reach 1.3 billion.

Latin America and the Caribbean continues steady growth of LTE connections and is forecast to reach more than half a billion LTE subscriptions by 2022.  Meanwhile, North America’s strong leadership in LTE will be replaced with early 5G connections building in 2019 and is forecast to reach 186 million 5G connections by 2023 for a 32 percent share of market.

“Growth of LTE is unabated, as LTE added 239 million connections worldwide in the third quarter of 2018,” stated Kristin Paulin, Senior Analyst, Ovum. “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.”

Worldwide, LTE is forecast to continue its momentum, reaching 6 billion connections in 2022 at which time LTE market share will stand at 61 percent.

New LTE deployments and upgrades continue and as of mid-December TeleGeography (GlobalComm) reported 624 LTE commercial networks worldwide, while 282 of those operators have evolved to LTE-Advanced.

3Q 2018 – North America

North America will take an early lead in 5G deployments with all four national service providers anticipating commercial launches in 2018 or 2019. Ovum forecasts 336 thousand 5G connections in North America by the end of 2019 representing 47 percent of total global 5G connections.

“5G is in the initial stages of commercial deployment in the U.S. with big plans by all four national service providers,” remarked Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas. “5G technology deployments represent a transformational time for innovation as our industry enables new applications and services.”

North America’s 5G networks will be built upon the strong LTE foundation in the region. LTE achieved a penetration rate of 107 percent with 390 million LTE connections as of third quarter 2018, compared to the population of 365 million in North America. This penetration rate compares to the next two highest regions, Oceania, Eastern and Southeastern Asia at 87 percent and Western Europe at 71 percent.

In addition to having a significantly higher penetration rate, the U.S. and Canada also have the highest market share for LTE in comparison to all mobile wireless technologies with 78 percent versus Oceania, Eastern and Southeastern Asia at 65 percent and 50 percent in Western Europe. Market share represents the percentage of mobile wireless connections that are LTE technology versus all other mobile technologies.

  • 390 million LTE connections for net gain of 51 million new LTE customers year-over-year
  • LTE is forecast to peak at about 473 million connections at the end of 2020 (including M2M)
  • 32 million 5G connections forecast in 2021 – 6 percent of all North American connections — growing to 186 million 5G connections in 2023 and 32 percent of all North America connections

3Q 2018 – Latin America and the Caribbean

LTE continues to exhibit high growth rates in Latin America and will be a key component of 5G deployment and uptake in the region in the coming years. Total LTE subscriptions in the region reached over a quarter billion by the end of third quarter 2018.

“The first 5G trial in the region took place in 2016 and we are expecting the first 5G commercial network to start offering services during 2019. However, it will take at least 4 to 5 years before this new technology has a comprehensive footprint in the region, making LTE the most relevant mobile broadband technology during the short term,” noted Jose Otero, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5G Americas.

LTE continued its healthy growth with market share increasing from 26 percent to 37 percent year-over-year at the end of September 2018.

  • 698 million total mobile wireless subscriptions including 257 million LTE connections; 78 million new LTE connections added year-over-year from 3Q 2017 and 17.5 million new LTE connections in 3Q alone
  • By the end of 2022, LTE is forecast to reach 510 million connections (forecast includes M2M) and a 67 percent share of market with total number of connections reaching 767 million

3Q 2018 – Global

Forecasts for LTE continue to show very positive growth with milestones of nearly 4 billion at end of 2018; more than 5 billion by 2020; and about 6 billion in 2022 at which time LTE growth will decline due to the mass market growth of 5G.  In 2023, LTE connections will decline to 5.7 billion when nearly 1 billion GSM connections and 2 billion HSPA connections will remain.

5G will trend upwards beginning in 2019 with less than 1 million global connections; by 2020, this will grow to 37 million and then more than quadruple to 156 million in 2021; by 2022, 5G connections will exceed 500 million and the 2023 forecast puts 5G global connections at 1.3 billion.

  • 972 million new LTE subscriptions year-over-year from 3Q 2017; 35 percent growth
  • 7 billion LTE connections out of a total 8.45 billion cellular connections worldwide; worldwide market share for LTE is 44 percent
  • LTE connections forecast to reach 6 billion by year-end 2022 (forecast includes M2M)
  • LTE global market share forecast to reach 61percent by year end 2022
  • 5G is forecast to reach 1.3 billion connections by the end of 2023