Global 5G Connections: 1.76 Billion, 66% Yearly Growth, North America Leads

The past year witnessed an extraordinary surge in the wireless telecommunications industry, largely fueled by the unstoppable advancement of 5G technology. According to 5G Americas and data from Omdia, 2023 marked a significant milestone with 1.76 billion global 5G connections, an increase of 700 million from the previous year. Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas, emphasized the industry’s imminent transition into a new era characterized by innovation, collaboration, and a shared vision of a connected future. He highlighted the role of Fixed Wireless Access in meeting consumer broadband demands and noted the ongoing progress in enhancing connectivity experiences worldwide.

North America led the charge in 5G adoption, accounting for 29% of all connections in the region by the end of 2023. With a remarkable 64% year-over-year growth, North America added 77 million new 5G connections, bringing the total to 197 million.

Meanwhile, Latin America experienced significant advancements in both 4G LTE and 5G connections. By the close of 2023, LTE connections reached 582 million, with an additional 40 million connections added year over year. The region also embraced the 5G revolution, establishing 39 million 5G connections by the year’s end, setting the stage for further expansion.

Jose Otero, Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean for 5G Americas, emphasized the continued strength of 4G LTE across the region. He anticipated an increase in 5G coverage and subscriber growth in the coming years, driven by factors such as mass-market availability of 5G handsets and completion of spectrum auctions.

Looking ahead, Omdia forecasts project a dramatic transformation in the telecommunications landscape over the next decade. Global 5G connections are expected to soar to 7.9 billion by 2028, with North America projected to reach an impressive 700 million 5G connections by the same year. Kristin Paulin, principal analyst at Omdia, highlighted that by 2028, 5G will account for more than half of all connections globally, with North America leading with over 80% of connections.

Furthermore, 5G data traffic is forecasted to constitute 76% of all technology data traffic, reaching 2.6 billion TB (or 2600 EB) by 2028. This reflects the exponential growth trajectory of 5G connectivity, showcasing its pivotal role in the digital era.

Despite the dominance of 5G headlines, the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem remains integral to the digital revolution. Global IoT subscriptions currently stand at 3.1 billion, alongside 6.6 billion smartphone subscriptions. Forecasts indicate that by 2026, IoT subscriptions will rise to 4.5 billion, with smartphone subscriptions surging to 7.4 billion, underscoring the evolving nature of connectivity in our interconnected digital world.

On the infrastructure front, the deployment of 5G networks globally demonstrates significant progress compared to 4G LTE deployments. As of March 18, 2024, there are 314 commercial 5G networks worldwide, with this number expected to grow to 450 by 2025, reflecting substantial investments in 5G infrastructure globally.

In summary, the wireless telecommunications industry is undergoing a paradigm shift driven by the rapid evolution of 5G technology, promising unparalleled connectivity experiences and shaping the digital landscape for years to come.

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