With 5G capturing most of the mobile discussion “oxygen,” a report from 5G Americas puts the impact of LTE into context. Nearly half (47%) of all worldwide cellular connections are handled via LTE, according to new LTE market share research from 5G Americas.

The technology is the most popular in North America, with market share of 82% in the fourth quarter of 2018, followed by Oceania; Eastern and South Eastern Asia with LTE share of 67%, which is followed by Western Europe at 52%.

There was significant growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, which grew the LTE market share to 40%, up significantly from the 29% reported at the end of 2017.

5G Americas reports that as of March 2018, LTE was deployed on 637 networks worldwide of which 294 are LTE-Advanced (TeleGeography-GlobalComms Database).

“While the 5G market reality and innovation are upon us, the number of LTE connections continue to grow on 637 commercial networks worldwide, [and we see] the evolution to advanced LTE networks for the Internet of Things, Gigabit LTE speeds and new methods for spectrum use and sharing,” said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, in a prepared statement.

Among other findings in the report:

  • In North America, there were 417 million LTE connections at 4Q 2018; increase of 63 million year-over-year; early launches of 5G in the U.S. will result in the top position globally in 2019 with 336,000 connections, with 5G connections predicted to quickly grow in North America to almost 4 million by 2020.
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, there were 700 million total mobile wireless subscriptions at the end of 2018; with 277 million LTE connections; 74 million added year-over-year from the fourth quarter of 2017. Additionally, the last quarter of 2018 was the largest growth quarter for LTE in 2018 with 19.8 million new connections while all other mobile technologies declined; GSM lost 53 million connections and was down to 123 million at the end of 2018.