Global 5G Connections Set to Hit 1.9B in 2023

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BELLEVUE, Wash.—The fifth generation of wireless cellular networks, 5G, had another year of rapid growth in 2022,  with global 5G wireless connections hitting 1.05 billion at the end of 2022, up 76% from 2021, according to data from Omdia and 5G Americas. 

Omdia and 5G Americas are also expecting continued rapid growth in 2023, when global 5G connections are expected to hit 1.9 billion and grow to 5.9 billion by the end of 2027.

Chris Pearson, president of the 5G Americas trade group said, ”5G is growing remarkably and scaling faster than any other previous generation of mobile wireless. While deployments and connections are added at a significant pace, the promise of 5G will be realized by technological progress in areas like standalone architecture and network slicing for new use cases.”

Most recent data from Omdia indicates 455 million global 5G connections were added in 2022. Overall, those figures represent 14% growth from 922 million in Q3 2022 to 1.05 billion in Q4 2022. 

North America is a leader in the uptake of wireless 5G connections with a total of 119 million 5G and 507 million LTE connections by the end of Q4 2022, the researchers said. 

In addition, 5G penetration of the population in the North American market is approaching 32 percent, as the region added 52 million 5G connections in 2022 – a gain of 78% over Q4 2021. 

Overall, a total of 215 million 5G connections are projected to come from North America in 2023, bolstered by strong 5G smartphone shipments in the U.S. According to Ericsson, total global mobile data traffic reached 118 exabytes (EB) per month by the end of 2022 and is projected to nearly quadruple to reach 325 EB per month in 2028.

“In North America, carriers offer 5G smartphone models at varying price points, along with smartphone promotions – including some free smartphone deals,” said Kristin Paulin, principal analyst at Omdia. “This is helping to drive 5G adoption as there is wide 5G coverage in North America, making it likely to be in a 5G service area. The only other thing required is a 5G-eligible plan.”

In comparison, 4G LTE is expected to remain strong in Latin America and the Caribbean through the end of 2023. In Q4 2022, there were 537 million 4G LTE connections, representing 9.3% annual growth with the addition of 46 million new LTE subscriptions. Latin America and the Caribbean had 12 million 5G connections by year end of 2022 and is expected to have 400 million by 2027.

Overall, the number of 5G commercial networks globally has reached 259, according to data from TeleGeography and 5G Americas. That number is expected to reach 390 by the end of 2023 and 403 by the end of 2025, representing strong 5G network investment growth in many regions throughout the world. 

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.