The GSM Association, which is currently putting on its high-profile Mobile World Congress event, says that two thirds of mobile connections will either be at 4G or 5G speeds by 2025.
The Barcelona-based Mobile World Congress has long been a coming-out party for cellular technology big and small.
And this year’s version of the GSM Association’s annual event, which began on Monday, is starting out with some data on the industry’s high-speed future—in 5G form. (The event also includes a bunch of smartphone releases, such as a new version of a classic Nokia phone famously featured in The Matrix.)
The association released its Mobile Economy report, which estimated that by 2025, more than half of all mobile connections globally will be at 4G speeds, and 14 percent of connections will be at 5G—with the latter technology yet to be launched at scale. Together, that means that more than two thirds of cellular connections, globally, will be high-speed.
Of course, the story is different when looking at different regions: In North America alone, the association believes that 49 percent of connections will be 5G by 2025, while Sub-Saharan Africa (which was still mostly on 2G connections in 2017) is expected to have a 5G reach of just 3 percent in 2025.
The report [PDF] says that mobile connections will help drive economic success and innovation in the years to come, particularly in the internet of things sector. (Notably, the report says that IoT will mostly be driven by industrial uses, rather than consumer applications.) The report notes that mobile technologies contribute to 4.5 percent of GDP worldwide, a level that is expected to rise to 5 percent by 2022.
But all of that is for naught without the right level of innovation investment. In a news release, GSMA Director General Mats Granryd made the case that permissive regulatory policies are key to ensuring that mobile infrastructure continues to grow with the ambitions of the tech world.
“As the mobile industry moves into the 5G era, the need for pro-investment, pro-innovation policies and modernized regulatory regimes has never been greater,” Granryd said in the release. “Streamlined regulation and further policy developments in three main areas—spectrum, infrastructure and economics—are key to realizing the full potential of 5G for consumers, society and industry.”
Mobile World Congress continues through March 1.