The number of global 5G subscriptions quadrupled in the fourth quarter of 2019, showing just how quickly users are adopting the newest generation of cellular technology when it becomes available to them.
A new report from the Global mobile Suppliers Association, based on numbers provided by research firm Omdia (made up of Informa Tech’s research brands plus IHS Markit’s tech research portfolio) says that 5G subscriptions reached at least 17.73 million as of the end of 2019, more than quadrupling in the last quarter of the year.
“The old adage of ‘build it and they will come’ has never been more true than with 5G,” said Joe Barrett, president of the GSA. “The rapid subscriber adoption of 5G is not just exciting for the industry, it is a vote of confidence in the investments being made in new 5G networks, services and devices. We have already seen 5G deployed at a quicker pace than we saw in the early days of 4G, and these subscriber forecasts further reinforce our view that 5G will be the fastest deployed mobile technology ever.”
LTE is still seeing significant growth as well, closing ut 2019 with 5.27 billion subscriptions around the world—more than 1 billion of which were added in the previous 12 months. That reflects year-over-year growth of more than 24%, according to the GSA report, which anticipates that LTE will garner 64.8% global market share by the end of 2022. That is the predicted peak for LTE, at which point 5G will begin to make larger inroads on market share. Omdia says that by the end of 2024, 5G will make up 19.3% of the global subscription base. LTE will still be the dominant technology, but it will account for 59.4% of all global mobile subscriptions at that point.
In terms of regional distribution, the lion’s share of LTE subscriptions are in Asia-Pacific: around 67%, by Omdia’s reckoning. Europe accounts for nearly 12%, North America around 9% and Latin America and the Caribbean nearly 7% of subscriptions. The Middle East and Africa both have fewer than 3% of the world’s LTE subscriptions.
Omdia predicts that there will be 10.5 billion global mobile subscriptions as of the end of 2024.
Read the full report from the GSA here.