There’s a lot of enthusiasm around 5G in recent months. Going by various industry reports and vendor prophesies, with this generation of wireless network, speed and latency is expected to be hundred times faster. This potential is further reflected in Garter’s latest forecast, as the research firm predicts that in 2020, worldwide 5G revenue will reach $4.2 billion. This represents a whopping increase from 2019 revenue of $2.2 billion.
Additionally, Gartner forecasts that investments in 5G NR (new radio) network infrastructure will account for 6% of the total wireless infrastructure revenue of communications service providers (CSPs) in 2019, and that this figure will reach 12% in 2020.
“5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will nearly double between 2019 and 2020,” said Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner. “For 5G deployments in 2019, CSPs are using non-stand-alone technology. This enables them to introduce 5G services that run more quickly, as 5G New Radio (NR) equipment can be rolled out alongside existing 4G core network infrastructure.”
In 2020, CSPs will roll out stand-alone 5G technology, which will require 5G NR equipment and a 5G core network. This will lower costs for CSPs and improve performance for users
5G Rollout Will Accelerate Through 2020
5G services will launch in many major cities in 2019 and 2020. Services have already begun in the U.S., South Korea and some European countries, including Switzerland, Finland and the U.K. CSPs in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Spain, Sweden, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have announced plans to accelerate 5G revenue network building through 2020.
As a result, Gartner estimates that 7% of CSPs worldwide have already deployed 5G infrastructure in their networks.
Aiming 5G Services at Enterprises
Although consumers represent the main segment driving 5G development, CSPs will increasingly aim 5G services at enterprises. 5G networks are expected to expand the mobile ecosystem to cover new industries, such as the smart factory, autonomous transportation, remote healthcare, agriculture and retail sectors, as well as enable private networks for industrial users.
Equipment vendors view private networks for industrial users as a market segment with significant potential. “It’s still early days for the 5G private-network opportunity, but vendors, regulators and standards bodies have preparations in place,” said Mr. Fabre. Germany has set aside the 3.7GHz band for private networks, and Japan is reserving the 4.5GHz and 28GHz for the same. Ericsson aims to deliver solutions via CSPs in order to build private networks with high levels of reliability and performance and secure communications. Nokia has developed a portfolio to enable large industrial organizations to invest directly in their own private networks.
“National 5G coverage will not occur as quickly as with past generations of wireless infrastructure,” said Mr. Fabre. “To maintain average performance standards as 5G is built out, CSPs will need to undertake targeted strategic improvements to their 4G legacy layer, by upgrading 4G infrastructure around 5G areas of coverage. A less robust 4G legacy layer adjoining 5G cells could lead to real or perceived performance issues as users move from 5G to 4G/LTE Advanced Pro. This issue will be most pronounced from 2019 through 2021, a period when 5G coverage will be focused on hot spots and areas of high population density.