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Network coverage

5G has the potential to cover up to 65 percent of the world’s population in 2025.

Report  | 

Key findings

  • 4G (LTE) networks are forecast to increase from 75 percent global population coverage in 2018, to over 90 percent in 2025.
  • Global 5G coverage is expected to reach between 55 and 65 percent by the end of 2025.
  • 5G is already on track to becoming the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology in history.

 

Momentum continues in the build-out of 4G (LTE) networks. Global 4G population coverage was around 75 percent at the end of 2018 and is forecast to reach over 90 percent in 2025.

4G networks are also evolving to deliver increased network capacity and faster data speeds. There are currently 777 commercial 4G networks deployed. Of these, 311 have been upgraded to LTE-Advanced, and 36 Gigabit LTE networks have been commercially launched.

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

Increasing 5G commercial launches and deployment momentum

To date, there have been around 50 5G commercial launches across the world. Most have focused on larger cities, creating some initial 5G coverage. In some cases, a rapid build-out has resulted in high population coverage. In South Korea, the service providers have committed to building 5G networks that will cover 93 percent of the population by the end of 2019. Similarly, 5G population coverage in Switzerland is expected to reach around 90 percent at the end of the year.

5G is expected to be the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology in history.

Technology advancements enabling rapid 5G population coverage build-out

5G coverage build-out can be divided into three broad categories: [1]

  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 55 percent in 2025.

For the third category, a significant proportion of 4G networks are already prepared for 5G and can be upgraded to support 5G services in existing LTE bands by utilizing spectrum sharing. Given this option, an estimated additional 10 percentage points of population coverage is achievable, creating a potential of up to 65 percent 5G population coverage in 2025.

World population coverage by technology2

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