Evolution from LTE to 5G – May 2020


Evolution from LTE to 5G

LTE is a global success, with nearly 5 billion subscriptions and connecting over 55% of mobile users worldwide and it is the fastest developing mobile system technology ever. LTE is specified by 3GPP as a single global standard for paired and unpaired spectrum users. The vast majority of the standard is the same for FDD and TDD. LTE has evolved through various 3GPP technology releases covering the introduction of LTE-Advanced and then LTE-Advanced Pro that have significantly improved the capabilities of LTE networks.

From 3GPP Release 15 onwards, the community has been defining 5G networks, starting with Non-Standalone 5G systems that integrate with existing LTE networks and then moving on to Standalone 5G systems with substantially different network configurations. GSA’s Evolution from LTE to 5G report provides an independent in-depth status view and analysis of the global 4G/LTE, LTE-Advanced and 5G markets, supported by facts, and confirms technology trends. Information is obtained, analysed and verified by GSA. The report is published quarterly and referenced by industry across the whole ecosystem.

Key market facts

There are:

  • 907 operators that have stated plans to invest or are actively investing in LTE for public networks, including those evaluating/testing and trialling LTE and those paying for suitable spectrum licences (excludes those using technology-neutral licences exclusively for 2G or 3G services).
  • 797 operators running LTE networks providing mobile and/or FWA services in 229 countries/territories worldwide.
  • 212 commercial VoLTE networks in 100 countries/territories and a total of 270 operators investing in VoLTE in 119 countries/territories.
  • 315 deployed/launched LTE-Advanced networks in 142 countries/territories. Overall, 352 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced technology in 151 countries/territories.
  • Twelve launched networks that support user equipment (UE) at Cat-18 DL speeds within limited geographic areas and five of these supporting Cat-19 (in a limited area).
  • 234 operators with TDD licences suitable for LTE and at least 165# operators are known to be actively using the spectrum (either deploying services or have launched LTE-TDD networks).
  • 156 operators investing in NB-IoT in 75 countries/territories (down on previous report due to company mergers and two operators recently retiring NB-IoT investments); of these, 107 NB-IoT networks are deployed/launched in 58 countries/territories.
  • Sixty-eight operators are investing in LTE-M/Cat-M1 in 39 countries/territories; of these, 45 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks are deployed/commercially launched in 32 countries/territories.
  • 385 operators in 125 countries/territories are investing in 5G mobile or 5G FWA/home broadband networks.
  • 95 operators in 50 countries/territories have announced the deployment of 5G within their live network.
  • 80 operators in 42 countries/territories have announced 3GPP 5G service launches (or limited service launches).

©2020 GSA


Evolution from LTE to 5G

Evolution from LTE to 5G