Momentum continues in the build-out of 4G (LTE) networks. Global 4G population coverage will be over 80 percent at the end of 2020 and is forecast to reach around 95 percent in 2026.
4G networks are also evolving to deliver increased network capacity and faster data speeds.
There are currently 795 commercial 4G networks deployed.
Of these, 324 have been upgraded to LTE-Advanced, and 41 Gigabit LTE networks have been commercially launched.
According to Ericsson Mobility Report released on Monday, 30th November, 2020, the 5G launch and deployment as per the end of 2019 Global 5G population coverage was around 5 percent at the end of 2019, with the main deployments made in larger cities.
The most extensive coverage build-outs have been in the US, China, South Korea and Switzerland.
In South Korea, service providers rapidly built 5G networks that covered a large part of the population.
In Switzerland, 5G population coverage reached over 90 percent at the end of 2019. 5G estimated to cover over 1 billion people by the end of 2020.
To date, there have been more than 100 5G commercial launches across the world. The estimated population coverage by the end of 2020 is approximately 15 percent, equivalent to over 1 billion people.
5G coverage build-out can be divided into three broad deployments:
- New bands in the sub-6GHz range
- mmWave frequency bands
- Existing LTE bands
“There are big differences between countries in how service providers have deployed 5G. In the US, all three of these categories have been used, resulting in 5G coverage for a large part of the population. In Europe, countries such as Germany and Spain have used deployments in existing bands to create substantial coverage. China has mainly deployed new bands to achieve a large population coverage.” Explains part of the report.
The findings also highlighted that 5G estimated to cover around 60 percent of the population in 2026.
There are several global factors impacting the forecast; the most evident short-term ones are COVID-19 and the geopolitical situation.
The exact impact of these factors on 5G population coverage remains to be seen. 5G is still expected to be the fastest deployed mobile communication technology in history and is forecast to cover about 60 percent of the world’s population in 2026.
Growth of Mobile Subscription in Sub-Saharan Africa
In Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile subscriptions will continue to grow over the forecast period as mobile penetration, at 84 percent, is less than the global average.
LTE is estimated to account for around 15 percent of subscriptions by the end of 2020.
LTE stands for “Long Term Evolution” and is a marketing phrase to signify progression toward true 4G.
Over the forecast period mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to increase, reaching 76 percent of mobile subscriptions.
While 5G and LTE subscriptions will continue to grow over the next 6 years, HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) will remain the dominant technology with a share of over 40 percent in 2026.
The November Ericsson Mobility Report revealed that driving factors behind the growth of mobile broadband subscriptions include a young, growing population with increasing digital skills and more affordable smartphones.
Over the forecast period, discernible volumes of 5G subscriptions are expected from 2022, reaching 5 percent in 2026.
Middle East and North Africa
In the Middle East and North Africa region, around 30 percent of mobile subscriptions are estimated to be for LTE at the end of 2020. The region is anticipated to evolve over the forecast period, and by 2026, almost 80 percent of subscriptions are expected to be for mobile broadband, with LTE as the dominant technology with more than 50 percent of the subscriptions.
Commercial 5G deployments with leading service providers have taken place here during 2019 and 2020 and 5G subscriptions will reach close to 1.4 million by the end of 2020, with most in the Gulf countries.
Significant 5G volumes are expected in 2021 and the region is likely to reach around 130 million 5G subscriptions in 2026, representing around 15 percent of total mobile subscriptions.