Olivier Le Moal - stock.adobe.co

5G coverage set to reach over half of global population by 2025

Despite 5G deployment still facing various challenges, operators are making progress in addressing major issues

As different service providers make progress in setting up the technology infrastructure, worldwide 5G coverage is projected to keep growing significantly, as much as by 253.84% and reaching about 4.1 billion people by 2025, according to research from financial comparison site Bankr.

If realised, this would be coverage of around 53% of the global population and see massive growth from the end of 2020, which, said the analysis, is likely to see about 15% of the world population – or 1.17 billion people – have access to the technology. The report also predicted that by 2021, about 25% of the global population will likely have 5G coverage.

Bankr made its calculations using a database of regional population and territory distribution based on population density. This was then combined with proprietary data on the installed estate of Ericsson’s Radio Base Stations (RBS) combined with estimated coverage per RBS for each of six population density categories (from the metro to wilderness). The baseline global population for 2020 was set at 7.83 billion.

It added that, with the growing realisation of 5G technology’s capability, there was continued momentum to upgrade from 4G with global uptake set to continue. The 5G coverage build-out can be divided into radio deployments of new bands in the sub-6GHz range, deployments in millimetre-wave frequency bands, and deployments in existing LTE bands.

The study noted that the growth of 5G technology was being driven by several aspects, mainly led by the increasing internet traffic that has come with a rise in the internet of things (IoT). The surge is demanding a resilient network, and Bankr says 5G has the potential of accommodating this growing demand. It added that 5G was able to satisfy the increasing appetite for high-speed mobile broadband that 5G can handle.

The study stressed that 5G’s combination of speed, responsiveness and reach has the potential to unlock the full capabilities of other technology trends.

Looking at roll-out to date, Bankr argued that the current access to 5G was a culmination of a joint clear consensus on the network by major players in recent years.

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The coverage was said to be significant, however, as it was being driven by a select few regions in Asia, the US and Europe. Asia is the current leader in 5G after undergoing a rapid migration in mobile broadband networks and smartphones, setting what Bankr regarded as the perfect ground for 5G adoption. Other regions such as the US are catching up, with the government proposing new policies to ensure all citizens are covered by the network.

Yet the study also highlights the various challenges presented by the deployment of 5G. Key among these is access to the several 5G spectrum bands, which have different attributes. Limited access to different spectrum bands in different locations has been to blame for the slow uptake in some regions.

Furthermore, the report said the cost of setting up frameworks to back faster data is high. The company said it was worth noting that the current telecom infrastructure needs to be upgraded and expanded. This could mean some telecom companies taking time to set up infrastructure, since some don’t plan to monetise the technology soon.

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