In 2023, more than 20 percent of the world’s population will be covered by 5G.
- LTE is the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology to date, in terms of build-out and subscription uptake
- Today, mobile networks cover around 95% of the world’s population
- Mobile broadband population coverage will grow to over 95% in 2023
- 5G population coverage will reach over 20% in 2023
Demand for population and geographical coverage
Historically, mobile services have been centered on providing sufficient radio signal for the world’s inhabitants where they live, which is defined as population coverage. Today, mobile networks cover around 95 percent of the world’s population and this figure continues to grow.
Mobile service usage has evolved from predominantly voice to messaging and internet access, as well as to a variety of apps on a range of smart devices, placing greater demands on network performance.
For mobile broadband (WCDMA/HSPA or a later technology), population coverage is currently at around 80 percent and forecast to grow to over 95 percent in 2023.
With the expected growth of IoT services, there is a higher demand on geographical coverage – be it wide-area or dedicated coverage – as networks of sensors are installed in places with low population density such as agricultural areas or forestland.
LTE deployment continues to gain momentum
In terms of build-out and subscription uptake, LTE is the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology to date. It took just 5 years for LTE to cover 2.5 billion people, compared to 8 years for WCDMA/HSPA.
LTE is driven by demand for improved user experience and faster networks. Several drivers are further increasing the speed of LTE deployment. In India, a rise in low-cost offerings and low cost per MegaByte is making the technology attractive. Similar drivers are also prevalent in other high-growth markets.
LTE population coverage is currently around 55 percent and is forecast to grow to more than 85 percent in 2023.
Providing coverage for 5G use cases
In the past, mobile networks have first been deployed in urban areas, and then gradually expanded to areas such as suburban and major interconnecting highways.
In a similar fashion, 5G is expected to be deployed first in dense urban areas to support enhanced mobile broadband services, and by 2023, more than 20 percent of the world’s population is expected to be covered by the technology.
To a large extent, 5G is driven by use cases with a wide range of requirements. One of the first commercial uses for 5G is expected to be for Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), implying a coverage build-out in urban areas. Other use cases will come from industries such as automotive, manufacturing, energy and utilities, and healthcare, and will drive demand for dedicated coverage.