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5G Wireless Network Deployments: Early Findings

Customers are increasingly lining up early for 5G technology as early adopters take advantage of increasing capabilities, according to a recent study.

The research from 5G Americas shows that there were four million global 5G connections in the third quarter of 2019. These forerunners are taking advantage of new capabilities being offered by several 5G networks that have recently come online. The study’s authors say we should expect a ramp-up in 2020 as coverage expands around the globe.

Some 5G facts of note:

  • There were four million 5G connections globally as of the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 166% over the second quarter.
  • At the time of the study, there were 50 commercial 5G networks around the world, that number is expected to increase to 67 commercial networks by the end of 2019, according to data from TeleGeography.
  • The number of 5G subscribers could reach 1.3 billion by 2023, according to data from Ovum.

LTE Adoption Continues

While most eyes have been on the emerging 5G technology, the study also shows that LGE adoption continues to grow.

LTE gained 250 million more subscriber connections around the world, reaching 5 billion connections worldwide. Much of that growth is coming from the Americas region, which added 28 million connections, led by Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to Jose Otero, VP of Latin America and Caribbean, 5G Americas:

“LTE continues its growth in Latin America and the Caribbean as the technology increases its geographic coverage, lower cost smartphones become available, and operators adopt strategies seeking to migrate subscribers to LTE that until recently were using second and third-generation services.”

Upcoming spectrum auctions in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and Uruguay could further accelerate the deployment of LTE in the region. So far, the region has launched three 5G commercial networks.

5G Wireless Network Fallout?

As telecom companies and governments look to 5G as a means to ease congested networks, a backlash is rising against the technology.

Critics say they’re concerned that radiation from 5G infrastructure poses health risks but officials have overwhelmingly rebuked such claims.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently announced it would make no changes to federal safety limits regarding cellphone-radiation exposure. The FCC ruling supported comments from the Food and Drug Administration that there is no scientific consensus that cellphones and health problems are linked.

Elsewhere, Australia will spend $9 million over four years to fight misinformation about 5G and help build public confidence in the technology. The money will be used to fund additional scientific research and more public education, officials said.

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