Subscriber adoption of the fifth generation of wireless communications (5G) has increased significantly, as global wireless 5G connections for the second quarter of 2021 reached 429 million, according to data from Omdia cited by 5G Americas, a wireless industry trade association.
“5G is progressing at a very rapid pace,” said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas. “Yet, the pace of subscriber uptake is only the beginning. 5G will be foundational for a new era of technology innovation throughout the world.”
According to Omdia, a statement from 5G Americas reads, the world added 124 million 5G connections between the first and second quarters of 2021, increasing 41 percent from 305 million to 429 million. 5G remains on pace to triple the number of connections in 2020 and is forecast to reach 692 million globally by the end of the calendar year.
Additionally, 10 5G commercial networks went live globally in the second quarter of 2021, bringing the global total up to 182 networks, according to data from TeleGeography. That number is expected to reach 220 by the end of 2021 and 323 by the end of 2023, 5G Americas said.
According to 5G Americas, projections for 5G and 4G LTE from Omdia remain healthy, with estimates of global 5G connections reaching 4.7 billion in 2026. Of that, 512 million is expected to come from North America and 277 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.
By region, Omdia data indicates North America had a total of 44.6 million 5G connections by the end of Q2 2021, which is an addition of 17.9 million 5G connections and 67 percent quarter over quarter growth, 5G Americas said. Additionally, the continent had 501 million LTE connections by the end of second quarter of 2021, which 5G Americas said marks a 0.66 percent quarterly decline in LTE.
“In its first year of commercial availability in Latin America and the Caribbean, 5G connections reached 15,706, which includes 11,655 new additions in the past year,” the 5G Americas statement reads. “LTE remains the dominant wireless cellular technology in the sub-region with 454.8 million connections, an addition of 71 million new LTE subscriptions year over year, representing 18.4 percent annual growth.”
According to Jose Otero, vice president of Caribbean and Latin America for 5G Americas, the ongoing geographic expansion of enhanced mobile broadband networks together with the wider availability of handsets supporting this technology is driving 4G adoption in markets such as Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.
“However,” Otero said, “at the other end of the spectrum, 2G and 3G continue to lose subscribers as operators start planning their disconnection and prepare for the impending mass-market demand of 5G services, expected to start in 2024.”