Mobile Devices

5G deployments continue despite COVID-19 pandemic

25 June 2020

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 5G technology continues to progress, according to new research from 5G Americas.

At the end of the first quarter of 2020, there were more than 63.6 million 5G connections globally, representing a 308.66% growth over the fourth quarter of last year, according to Omdia.

There are now 82 5G commercial networks and that number is expected to more than double to 206 by the end of 2020, according to data from TeleGeography.

“Globally, 5G remains the fast-growing generation of wireless cellular technology ever, even as the world is gripped with a pandemic,” said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas. “In North America, we are seeing consistent, strong uptake of new 5G subscribers as new devices have been released that can take advantage of low-band and millimeter wave frequencies. At the same time, new network capabilities are being added.”

More than 100 commercial 5G devices have been released globally with mixed support with some featuring just low-band connection and others featuring a combination of technology to support high bands such as millimeter wave (mmWave) frequency bands.

While strong growth is happening in North America, regional rollouts are beginning to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as 5G Americas sees Latin America and the Caribbean 5G deployments slowing while the resurgence of the virus in Europe and North America is decreasing the purchasing power of a large percentage of the population.

By the end of the first quarter of 2020, North America had 1.18 million 5G connections and 494 million LTE connections amounting to 100% growth in 5G, a gain of 591,000 5G connections over the quarter and a 2.34% growth in LTE.

Omdia forecasts the number of 5G connections will reach 238 million globally by the end of 2020 with North America accounting for 10 million connections.

“We expect growth to pick up in the second half of the year, following the easing of lockdowns as well as continued 5G network expansion and the availability of more 5G devices,” said Kristin Paulin, senior analyst at Omdia.

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