{ Markettagged:True , MatchedLanguageCode:True }

Network coverage

5G is projected to cover more than 40 percent of the world’s population in 2024.


Key findings

  • 5G is projected to cover more than 40 percent of the world’s population in 2024.
  • There is continued momentum toward the build-out of LTE networks, driven by the demand for internet access and video streaming.
  • A total of 25 gigabit LTE networks have been commercially launched.
  • Gigabit networks will lead to higher peak rates, increased network capacity and faster average end-user data speeds.
  • Mobile networks cover around 95% of the world’s population and this figure continues to grow.

Communications service providers have been focused on providing sufficient radio signal for the world’s inhabitants, which is defined as population coverage (as opposed to geographical coverage). Today, mobile networks cover around 95 percent of the world’s population and this figure continues to grow.

There is continued momentum toward the build-out of LTE networks, driven by the demand for internet access and video streaming as well as a variety of other apps. In terms of population coverage, LTE is currently at over 60 percent 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 679 commercial LTE networks deployed in 208 countries. Of these, 270 have been upgraded to LTE-Advanced, and 25 gigabit LTE networks have been commercially launched.

Gigabit networks will lead to higher peak rates, increased network capacity and faster average end-user data speeds.


A total of 25 gigabit LTE networks have been commercially launched.

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

2019 will be the year that 5G takes off

5G networks are currently being deployed in several regions worldwide and commercial launches are already taking place. One of the first 5G use cases will be fixed wireless access, as devices with form factors suitable for customer premises equipment will be early to the market, and will not have the stringent size, weight and power consumption requirements that come with smartphones.

As 5G smartphones become available during 2019, several service providers are expected to commercially launch 5G. In North America and North East Asia, significant 5G subscription volumes are expected early.

5G population coverage build-out is expected to be faster than LTE

In terms of build-out and subscription uptake, LTE has been the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology to date. Initial LTE build-out was led by Western Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea. With the exception of Western Europe, these areas, along with China, are expected to also lead the 5G population coverage build-out.

5G coverage build-out can be divided into three broad categories: radio deployments in new bands in the sub-6GHz range, deployments in millimeter wave frequency bands and deployments in existing LTE bands. Deployments in existing LTE bands can be rapidly upgraded to support 5G services in many networks by installing new software; for example, spectrum sharing between LTE and 5G in low to mid-bands.

More than 40 percent of the world’s population is forecast to be covered by 5G in 2024.

World population coverage by technology