LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: Around half of North America’s mobile connections are expected to be running on 5G by 2025, a considerably greater share than other key 5G global regions, according to the latest edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report.
The report claims North America is expected to “migrate rapidly to 5G networks and services”, with fixed wireless the initial use case for early 5G deployments (spurred on by operator activity from the likes of AT&T), with full standardised 5G services expected to follow in 2019.
“North American mobile subscribers are highly engaged digital consumers, using their smartphones to access a broad range of services and content – and are set to become early adopters of 5G services in areas such as ultra-HD video, AR/VR, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving,” stated Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA.
He added: “The successful large-scale rollouts of 4G networks across the US and Canada, alongside strong consumer take-up of 4G-capable smartphones, has established North America as one of the most advanced mobile regions in the world, on a par with the most advanced markets in Europe and Asia.”
Indeed, the report claimed the region is “a benchmark for rapid migration to next-generation devices and networks”. At the end of 2016, North America had the highest smartphone and 4G adoption rates of any region worldwide, at 78 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively – forecast to grow to 81 per cent and 84 per cent by 2020.
It forecasts that smartphones connected to 4G networks will account for four out of five mobile connections in North America by 2020, a higher proportion than any other global region. The report also predicts that the mobile ecosystem’s contribution to the North American economy will increase to more than $1 trillion by 2020, equivalent to almost five per cent of regional GDP (up from $790 billion last year, or 3.9 per cent of GDP).
North America’s mobile ecosystem also supported 2.5 million jobs in 2016 and made a $110 billion contribution to the public sector via taxation.
There were 291 million unique mobile subscribers in North America at the end of last year, representing 80 per cent of the region’s population, a figure expected to increase to 313 million (84 per cent) by 2020. These consumers are characterised by high levels of mobile engagement and expenditure, which contributed to a nine-fold increase in mobile data traffic between 2012 and 2016 in the US. In revenue terms, North America is estimated to be a $250 billion market this year, accounting for more than a fifth of global operator revenue.