While mobile network operators and vendors meet current market demands with LTE-A and LTE-A Pro, pre-standard 5G millimeter wave deployments are imminent. ABI Research forecasts that 5G in the cm and mm wave bands will reach nearly $200 billion in cumulative service revenues by 2026 while LTE, LTE-A, and LTE-A Pro exceed five billion subscriptions.
“While the global LTE subscriber base will continue to grow in the immediate future as operators evolve to LTE-A Pro networks, it will likely soften in developed markets when 5G deployments take off,” says Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “In 2026, the LTE portfolio will remain the dominant mobile technology, representing more than 50% of worldwide mobile subscriptions, while the 5G subscriber base will grow to account for close to 5% of the market’s total.”
Developed markets in North America and Asia-Pacific will lead the way for 5G services. U.S. mobile operators AT&T and Verizon completed field and lab testing of 5G technology and aim for pre-standard deployments in 2017, while operators in Japan and the Republic of Korea amp up their own 5G services in preparation for their upcoming Olympics. The 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance—formed by KT, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, and Verizon—will also develop 5G trial activities.
Other stakeholders working toward 5G include Qualcomm. The company recently announced that its Snapdragon X50 5G modem will deliver 5Gbps device downloads in the 28 GHz band. Meanwhile, leading infrastructure vendors Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and ZTE are unleashing a flurry of 5G technology agreements, demos, trials and roadmaps to increase momentum for 5G.
“4G technologies will deliver nearly $3.5 trillion in service revenues through 2026,” concludes Joe Hoffman, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “The later launching 5G will then yield almost $200 billion.”