ABI Research, the leader in transformative technology innovation market intelligence, projects that mobile broadband operators will reap 5G revenues of $247 billion in 2025 with North America, Asia-Pacific, and Western Europe being the top markets. Specifically, network operators, vendors, and standards bodies will finalize technical details concerning the millimeter wave by 2020, with rollout ramping up afterward.
“5G will be a fast growing cellular technology, most probably faster than preceding generations including 4G,” says Joe Hoffman, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “The technology migration over the next few years will mean the continued decline of 2G. 3G and 4G will grow in many markets but 5G will generate new use cases and market revenues.”
As infrastructure vendors and mobile operators prepare for the future of 5G, the market faces several key challenges. Obstacles include spectrum fragmentation, standards development, coverage range, availability of devices, and CAPEX/OPEX, and most importantly, the development of use cases that ensure profitable outcomes from the unique competitive advantages of 5G.
Unlike the case with LTE, 5G stakeholders are trying hard to achieve spectrum harmonization. As with LTE, however, 5G will also include unlicensed and shared spectrum schemes. Government organizations worldwide will need to work together to regulate the 5G spectrum and set the new standard.
Additionally, Enhanced Mobile Broadband coverage will be best achieved in urban areas that require faster speeds and greater capacity. While smart antenna technology can extend coverage reach, it will mean a small cells deployment. ABI Research forecasts 8.5 million small cells to be deployed by 2020, setting in place the infrastructure for a rapid 5G millimeter wave rollout. And in-band backhaul is a new tool to solve connectivity issues.
At the early stage of deployment, the leading 5G use case is enhanced mobile broadband, closely followed by critical and massive machine type communications. Leading mobile operators in North America and Asia-Pacific recently announced projects and plans to roll out their own 5G initiatives. For example, Verizon Wireless, NTT DoCoMo, KT, and SK Telecom formed the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance. In addition, Verizon Wireless’s acquisition of XO Communications’ fiber network business brings strategic access to licensed millimeter wave spectrum with which to deploy 5G.
“The 5G Network of Tomorrow will, over time, evolve to embrace cellular, Wi-Fi, and wired connectivity, in addition to millimeter wave,” concludes Hoffman. “It will be better, cheaper, greener, and incredibly high-speed wireless data access for the mass market that will cause business innovation to explode.”