Half of connections in North America will be on 5G by 2025, GSMA says

New research presented ahead of the inaugural Global World Congress Americas conference illustrates North America's 5G leadership.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

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North America leads the world in 4G and smartphone adoption, with the rapid adoption of 5G poised to add significant value to the regional economy, according to a new report from the GSMA, the global wireless trade association.

By 2025, according to the report, around half of the region's connections are expected to be running on 5G -- a far greater share than other key 5G global regions.

North American mobile subscribers are "highly engaged digital consumers, using their smartphones to access a broad range of services and content," Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, said in a statement. They're expected to be early adopters of 5G services in areas like ultra-HD video, AR and VR, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.

By the end of 2016, North America had the world's highest smartphone adoption rate (78 percent), as well as the highest 4G adoption rate (63 percent). Smartphone usage is expected to reach 84 percent by 2020, while the 4G adoption rate is expected to reach 81 percent, the report says.

The GSMA also predicts that the mobile ecosystem's contribution to the North American economy will grow to more than $1 trillion by 2020 -- equivalent to almost five percent of regional GDP.

With so much money on the table, particularly for network operators, the GSMA has teamed up with its North American counterpart the CTIA to bring its annual conference, the Global World Congress (GWC) to the US for the first time this year. Around 30,000 people are expected to attend the first GWC Americas this week in San Francisco to discuss ways to accelerate network growth, scale out IOT and develop emerging technologies like connected cars.

Mobile data traffic has increased soared in the US in recent years, increasing 9-fold from 2012 through 2016, the report says. North America overall should bring in $250 billion in revenue this year for mobile operators.

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