- North America is set to be a "leader" in 5G deployment in the coming years following deployments by the four major U.S. telecoms, according to GSMA’s 2020 report on the state of the global mobile economy. The group estimates by 2025, 48% of connections on the continent will be on 5G networks, trailing only behind Asia at 50%.
- The report closely follows a 2019 dive into the mobile economy in North America, which found consumer expectations for 5G improving data speeds, improving coverage and introducing innovative new services are higher in the United States than anywhere else in the world. The 2020 report shows 60% of North American consumers are willing to pay extra for 5G coverage.
- The report estimates 5G technology is expected to contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy between 2024 and 2034, which financial services in North America to benefit most from the tech.
Policymakers at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received praise for moving quickly to allocate high-frequency spectrum bands for 5G networks and applications, although the 2019 report called on mid-range spectrum to also be made available in a "timely and sufficient" manner. It said the FCC’s streamlining of infrastructure deployment is "important" as several stages of application review can significantly delay those deployments.
Concerns have been raised continually at the highest levels of government about North America and the United States falling behind countries like China, Japan and South Korea in the deployment of 5G networks. GSMA says all these competing countries will deploy at much the same rate, the U.S. can still call itself a leader and should be at the forefront of deployment efforts given the work being put in by its telecom companies.
GSMA also said that for the sake of fast network deployment, policies advanced by the FCC to streamline the approvals process for small cells, antenna and other infrastructure are a good way to move things forward, but many city leaders still disagree. Court challenges to that ruling are ongoing, with opponents reportedly describing it as a "land-grab."
But the 5G revolution is well underway. In the global edition of its mobile report, the group said 5G is live in 24 markets worldwide, and it will be responsible for 205 of global connections by 2025. Meanwhile, telecom companies and technology providers are expressing optimism they can keep up or even increase the momentum and bring the networks to even more markets.
Even with this forward progress, GSMA warned that customers will need to be shown tangible benefits of 5G and use cases that would not be available on other mobile networks. As the market matures, more 5G-ready handsets come online and more cities roll out the networks, GSMA expects consumer interest to increase.