Research firm Dataxis has reported that 4G penetration will reach 90% in Latin America by 2022, with Africa increasing its current 4G base more than tenfold within the same timeframe.
Over the total voice and data lines, Latin America’s 4G penetration was around 21% at the end of 2016, according to research by Dataxis analyst Camille Dupont. Adoption is uneven across the region, with some markets displaying a strong penchant for 4G, while in others it is far weaker.
In the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama and Venezuela, 4G penetration is below 10% of the total base, while in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua it is lower than 5%. However, Uruguay is strides ahead, with a penetration rate of 50% for the year 2016.
Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico complete the leading group, surpassing the average rate of 4G adoption in the region. These countries have the greatest coverage and users are equipped and willing to adopt this technology.
Beyond the differences in the development of the 4G network, general growth is expected in all the countries of the region, gradually wiping out the 2G in the first half and 3G in the second half. According to Dataxis research, 4G penetration will reach 35% in 2017 and forecast more than 90% penetration rate in 2022 with the expected launch of 5G network.
In Africa meanwhile, mobile internet connectivity is rising steadily,with 4G mobile subscribers expected to reach 296 million by 2022 compared to 24 million for 2016. Dataxis analyst Sa Eva Nébié forecasts that 4G networks will be accessible in all 54 countries by 2022.
The number of 3G enabled SIMS will continue to rise simultaneously, particularly in countries with low broadband connectivity, but the growth rate will slowly decrease with the arrival of 4G network. Mobile broadband subscribers are therefore expected to grow into the main part of mobile subscribers with 54% of total mobile SIMs
In 2016, most of 4G subscribers come from a few leading countries in northern and southern Africa. Significant disparities in 4G development and adoption still exist depending on the country; for instance Morocco, with its 3.4 million 4G subscribers, accounts for 14% of total 4G subscribers in Africa.
4G penetration remains indeed very low in the rest of Africa and Dataxis forecasts that 4G subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) will reach 58% of total 4G subscribers in Africa in 2022 compared to only 3% in 2016. The adoption of 4G goes along with another relevant change which is the increase in smart devices penetration. Dataxis research outlines a surge from 24% of the population in 2016 up to 60% of the population in 2022.
Dataxis’ analysis sheds light on the importance 4G technology accessed through smartphones will acquire in the next 5 years. Broadband connectivity in Africa will be achieved almost exclusively through mobile, with only few households equipped with PCs and wireline broadband. This growth in broadband connectivity will enable new players such as OTT and SVOD platforms to thrive and reach their end-user in an environment where data access is no longer a hurdle.