LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: Heads of the GSMA and CTIA used the opening keynote at MWC Americas today to talk up the potential for the mobile industry across the region, building on a position generated by a strong 4G base.

Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, said that there will be 100 million 5G connections in North America by 2023, “just four short years after launch”, if the continent follows a similar pace of adoption to 4G.

By 2025, around half of all connections in North America will be on 5G, compared with roughly 30 per cent in Europe and the leading Asian markets.

Granryd also said that mobile technology is “transforming industries”, citing opportunities in markets including autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and powered by the “enormous quantities of data” generated by IoT and artificial intelligence.

Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of CTIA, opened her keynote by stating that US consumers are “using more mobile data, at faster and faster speeds, and pay less for the best mobile experience in the world”.

But she noted that there is fierce competition to win the battle for 5G.

“Make no mistake, the race to lead the world in 5G is on. And competition is intense. China will conduct over 100 trials this year. South Korea and Japan, they are moving forward on their 5G Olympic commitments. Every country knows that wireless leadership creates jobs, investment and innovation. They are taking action because they want to win: we do too,” she said.

But in order to trump rivals, there are regulatory challenges which need to be addressed. The increased use of small cells means that “these new networks need new rules, rules that are designed for antennas the size of shoe-boxes, not 200 foot towers”.

And of course, spectrum will be a key factor, with the need for “a schedule, a defined pipeline” for when new frequencies will be made available to the market.

“To keep up with America’s growing demand, we are going to need more spectrum – hundreds of megahertz of new spectrum,” she said.