February 28, 2018
Two-thirds of the world’s mobile connections will be running on 4G and 5G networks by 2025, according to the new 2018 edition of the GSMA’s ‘Mobile Economy’ report, published at Mobile World Congress 2018.
It is forecast that 4G will account for 53% per cent of global mobile connections by 2025 (up from 29% in 2017), while 5G networks will grow to account for a further 14%, following the launch of the first commercial 5G networks this year. The report also measures the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) over this period and the mobile industry’s increasing role in contributing to economic growth and social development.
“We are at the dawn of a new era in mobile with the imminent launch of the first 5G networks and the Internet of Things poised to further transform the way we live and work,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. “Meanwhile, operators continue to expand and upgrade their 4G networks in order to provide an evolutionary path into the 5G era, and also evolve their offerings to unlock new revenue streams in areas such as e-commerce, content, lifestyle, advertising and marketing, and identity and security.”
“As the mobile industry moves into the 5G era, the need for pro-investment, pro-innovation policies and modernized regulatory regimes has never been greater,” Granryd added. “Streamlined regulation and further policy developments in three main areas — spectrum, infrastructure and economics — are key to realizing the full potential of 5G for consumers, society and industry.”
Growth in 4G, 5G and the Internet of Things
In under a decade since the first commercial 4G networks were launched, 4G is on track to become the world’s leading mobile network technology by next year and to account for more than half (53%) of global connections by 2025. During this period, operators will also be investing in new 5G networks; beginning this year, the first wave of 5G launches will occur in North America and major markets across Asia and Europe.
5G connections are forecast to reach 1.2 billion by 2025, accounting for 14% of the total connections at that time.
Meanwhile, growth in the IoT will be driven by a proliferation of uses cases for smart homes, cities, buildings and enterprises. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that the number of IoT connections (cellular2 and non-cellular) will increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2025, reaching 25 billion. To date, 23 mobile operators have commercially launched 41 Mobile IoT networks worldwide across using the NB-IoT and LTE-M standards.