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Network coverage

5G can cover up to 65 percent of the world’s population in 2024.

Key findings

  • In 2024, 5G can cover up to 65 percent of the world’s population.
  • LTE increased by some 10 percentage points during 2018, creating the potential for around 750 million more people to utilize the technology.
  • LTE population coverage is forecast to reach around 90 percent in 2024.

There is continued momentum in the build-out of LTE networks. In terms of population coverage, LTE increased by some 10 percent during 2018, creating the potential for around 750 million more people to utilize the technology. The largest share of this increase came in India, which now has around 90 percent population coverage. Global LTE population coverage was around 75 percent at the end of 2018 and is forecast to reach around 90 percent in 2024.

LTE networks are also evolving to deliver increased network capacity and faster data speeds. There are currently 720 commercial LTE networks deployed. Of these, 286 have been upgraded to LTE-Advanced, and 32 gigabit LTE networks have been commercially launched.

Percentage and number of LTE-Advanced networks supporting various categories of devices

Initial 5G deployments during 2018

5G deployments are gaining momentum worldwide. During 2018, a few 5G launches took place, mainly in North America.

In North America and North East Asia significant 5G subscription volumes are expected early.

Technology advancements enabling a rapid 5G population coverage build-out

5G coverage build-out can be divided into three broad categories1:

  1. Radio deployments in new bands in the sub-6GHz range
  2. Deployments in millimeter wave frequency bands
  3. Deployments in existing LTE bands

Looking at the first two categories combined, 5G population coverage is forecast to reach 45 percent in 2024.

For the third category, technology advancements have made it possible to perform rapid upgrades to support 5G services in many networks by installing new software; for example, spectrum sharing between LTE and 5G in low- to mid-bands. Given this possibility, an additional 20 percentage points 5G population coverage is achievable, creating a potential of up to 65 percent in 2024.

World population coverage by technology

1 The coverage area for the three categories may overlap in some areas but the calculated numbers refer to the combined coverage area predicted

2 The figures refer to coverage of each technology. The ability to utilize the technology is subject to factors such as access to devices and subscriptions