AT&T announced last month that its 4G LTE deployment will be “substantially complete” this summer as the company added 700,000 postpaid smartphone customers to end the quarter with 61 million total subscribers. South Korea, meanwhile is rolling out 4G LTE-A (Advanced) and leading operators in the country boast 99% coverage for LTE network. While some of the Asian markets and North America lead in terms of 4G network roll out and adoption, Europe lags behind these countries.
However, a number of key markets – including UK – are now turning their focus to 5G. The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, recently stated that London will be one of the first cities in the world to offer 5G, by 2020. Currently lagging behind other markets in 4G LTE adoption, the EU is investing €700m ($940 m) over the next seven years in developing 5G. The EU is partnering with South Korea on the development of 5G, while Ofcom will shortly be publishing its 5G spectrum strategy and is expected to free up some of the existing frequency bands for testing of 5G.
Our recent research on 4G LTE finds that with the rate of LTE network commitments and roll-outs at an all-time high, network and device vendors have significantly improved their position to offer products and solutions to network operators. The GSA (Global Mobile Suppliers Association) confirmed that 168 manufacturers have announced 1,889 LTE-enabled user devices, including operator and frequency variants, along with 300 commercial network launches.
Juniper Research forecasts a rapid uptake of 4G LTE mobile technology in the next five years, with active connections crossing the 1 billion mark in 2017 and reaching 1.8 billion by 2019. This will represent 22% of the global active mobile SIM connections by this time.
4G LTE connections still continue to have a very limited global reach; and considering the current stages of 5G research and the rapid development of the 4G market itself (also taking into account the logical evolution towards 4G-LTE Advanced), 2020 looks to be a reasonable prediction for the finalisation of 5G standards and rollout.