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5G Tipping Point

Nov. 28, 2022
Recent data shares 5G reach, usage and attitudes across the US.

With $100 billion invested in 5G networks from the major carriers, recent data reveals that 2022 is the year that the advanced technology has finally arrived for much of the country, with consumer access numbers surging and coverage reaching previously uncovered areas. As well as 5G coverage levels increasing, the data also reveals that throughputs on 5G capable devices have almost doubled since 2020.

The research found the number of consumers who accessed 5G networks in the US grew from just 43% in 2021 to 61% in 2022. This means that 42% more consumers accessed 5G networks in 2022 than in 2021, a significant increase compared to the single digit rise in 5G access of just 7% the year before (2020-2021).

5G is reaching new areas and demographics like never before, with rural area network coverage more than doubling between 2020-2022 from 29% to 65%. Equally interesting is those with 5G capable devices spend over a third of the waking day (312 minutes) on their devices—nine days more a year than those without 5G capable handsets.”

The US study into 5G access habits combines data from independent consumer polling as well as insights based on over 50 million daily data points gathered and weighted from the Global Wireless Solutions opt-in OneMeasure Consumer Panel (OMCP) of US adult smartphone users: capable of providing a 360-degree view of consumer behavior, choices, and satisfaction. (Sourcing information at end of article.)

The data illustrates that 5G coverage has grown over the last two years and now reaches 83% of consumers across urban areas, an increase of more than 35% from 2020–2022. While impressive, this growth has been dwarfed by the explosion in coverage outside of urban areas, which has grown to 76% in suburban areas (nearly double 2020 coverage rates) and 65% in rural areas (more than doubling the coverage in 2020). This reflects a closing digital divide as more areas gain access to the technology around the country.

As the network is more readily available across the country, research also reveals that every age group is now accessing 5G networks at higher rates, with sharp jumps in 2022 and access among older generations now nearing the 50% mark. Gen Z, those aged between 18-24 years old, saw their access rates rise from 50% in 2021 to 68% in 2022, while those aged over 55 saw an almost twofold increase from 25% to 46% over the same time period.

The widespread expansion of both 5G coverage and access has also been coupled with increased excitement for the technology and its rollout. Sixty-one percent (61%) of consumers who had bought a new phone since 2021 knowingly purchased one with 5G access, and nearly a third purchased a phone because of its ability to access 5G networks.

“…5G coverage outside of urban areas, which has grown to 76% in suburban areas (nearly double 2020 coverage rates) and 65% in rural areas (more than doubling the coverage in 2020).” 

5G consumers are also spending more time on those devices—perhaps due to improvements in throughputs and access to apps and services that 5G brings. The OMCP panel test data shows that consumers with 5G smartphones saw their average minutes of daily use reach 312 per day, which means people are spending 33% of their waking day on devices. This is 37 minutes higher than those using older devices and equates to a whopping nine days more of mobile usage a year for those with 5G devices than those without. Of those consumers with 5G devices, most time is being spent on social media, gaming, and lifestyle apps.

While there is still work to be done to ensure every inch of the country can access the network, it is encouraging to see significant improvements in previously uncovered areas and among various age groups.

For complete survey methodology, please visit:

About the Author

Dr. Paul Carter | President and CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. (GWS)

Dr. Paul Carter is President and CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. (GWS), a leading independent benchmarking solution vendor for the wireless industry. Dr. Carter has more than 30 years’ experience in the cellular network industry. He founded Global Wireless Solutions to provide operators with access to in-depth, accurate network benchmarking, analysis, and testing. Prior to GWS, Dr. Carter directed business development and CDMA engineering efforts for LLC, the world's largest independent wireless engineering company.

For more information, please email [email protected] or visit Follow Dr. Carter on LinkedIn: You can also follow GWS on Twitter @GWSolutionsInc and LinkedIn: and Facebook: