Number of 5G mobile base stations rose 35% in 2022 4th quarter – sector regulator

Almost 6,000 base stations now spread across 98% of Portugal’s municipalities

The number of 5G (fifth-generation mobile communications) base stations installed in Portugal increased 35% in the fourth quarter of 2022, to a total of 5,842, spread across 98% of the country’s municipalities and in 49% of its parishes, according to figures released by the sector regulator today

Said National Communications Authority Anacom in a statement, at the end of December “the number of base stations installed on national territory with 5G technology amounted to 5,842, spread across 302 municipalities (98% of the municipalities in the country) and 1,526 parishes (49% of the parishes in the country).”

Comparing the third and fourth quarters, Anamcom noted that “the number of 5G base stations installed increased by 35%” and that “the number of municipalities where 5G stations exist has grown by 10%”.

According to the figures, the number of parishes with 5G stations increased by 28%; in parishes with a low density of population the increase was 41%, while in the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and the Azores the increase was 55%.

NOS remains the operator that has installed the most base stations, followed by Vodafone and MEO,” reads the statement.

In the fourth quarter, the number of NOS stations grew 51%; in the case of Vodafone and MEO, they rose 12% and 43% respectively.

The total area of the parishes where there are no 5G stations, according to Anacom, “represents 46.6% of the national territory and, according to the 2021 Census, corresponds to about 15% of the national population.”

Taking as a reference the division of Portugal’s territory for European Union policy purposes into NUTS III regions, “it can be seen that for the administrative units Douro, Beiras and Serra da Estrela, Beira Baixa, Médio Tejo, Alto Alentejo, Alentejo Central, Alentejo Litoral and Baixo Alentejo, the number of 5G base stations is significantly lower than in the remaining regions of the country.”

In other words, a significant majority of 5G stations (67% of the total, corresponding to 3,920 stations) are located in predominantly urban areas, around 14% (811 stations) in “mid-urban areas” and 19% (1,111 stations) in predominantly rural areas.

“The vast majority of 5G stations (4,039 stations) are installed in parishes other than low density parishes, with around 68% of these parishes already having at least one 5G station (while) 24% of the total number of stations (1,373 stations) are installed in low density parishes.” 

Of the total number of low density parishes (1,813), “the proportion of those with 5G stations is 36% (658 parishes), and 1,155 parishes (64% of the total) still do not have 5G stations.” 

Regarding parishes in the Azores and Madeira, “the proportion of those with 5G stations is 67% (141 parishes). There are 69 parishes without any 5G station installed.”

Despite the recent increase in NOS base stations, “if we consider the total number of existing stations (2G, 3G, 4G and 5G), we observe that NOS is the operator with the fewest stations, with a total of 14,590 stations (32% of the total), with first place occupied by Vodafone with 16,652 stations (36%) and second place by MEO with 14,801 stations (32%).”

Many of the 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G stations of each operator “are located in the same place, so it is important to analyse the total number of places where each operator has stations,” stresses the statement, noting that Vodafone has stations in 5,802 places, MEO in 4,967 places and NOS in 4,237 places.

“Finally, it is also noteworthy that, at the end of December, there were 1.5 million 5G mobile internet accesses in Portugal, which makes up 15.4% of total mobile internet accesses,” the statement reports, concluding that “monthly traffic generated reached 6,133 TB, which means that 7.7% of total mobile traffic is already supported on 5G networks.”