IHS Markit: Video streaming is killer app for 5G (mobile and FWA) in U.S.

by Joshua Builta, IHS Markit analyst

Editor’s Note: Video streaming would be considered to be a subset of Enhanced Mobile Broadband-the most popular 5G use case.


The 5G era is set to drive the next wave of growth in video streaming, with 78 percent of U.S. consumers indicating they will expand this activity as they adopt the next-generation wireless standard in smartphones and home-networking solutions, according to a survey conducted by IHS Markit Digital Orbit.

When asked to name which types of activities they are likely to increase due to the arrival of 5G, consumers ranked video streaming first, ahead of video calling, social media, mobile gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality. As a result, the deployment of 5G will help cause video usage to grow to account for 70 percent of mobile network traffic in 2022, up from 47 percent in 2015.

“The promise of faster video streaming through 5G is generating enormous enthusiasm among consumers,” said Joshua Builta, senior principal analyst for IHS. “Interest is particularly high for those younger than 50, with 81 percent of survey respondents in that age range citing video streaming as the top activity for 5G. Consumers are expressing strong interest in video streaming both on smartphones and for home internet services, which are equally supported by 5G.”

Smartphone streaming moves to 4K:

Current 4G wireless services already provide sufficient performance to support most types of video content commonly streamed today. As a result, 5G’s largest impact will be felt in emerging areas of the market.

One of these areas is 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) video. The 5G NR 3GPP spec enables 4K on mobile platforms because of its increased capacity and speed. When coupled with the growing demand and supply of 4K UHD content, the proliferation of 5G will help drive mobile consumption of UHD content.

The 5G standard (IMT 2020) will also be critical to promoting the consumption of general live video. This is particularly true for sports and live events, where lower latency and higher speed and bandwidth are critical.

Home 5G promotes video streaming:

In parallel with the trends in the smartphone market, US consumers are expressing intense interest in engaging in 5G video streaming via home internet access.

Most consumers say they are attracted to 5G (proprietary or 3GPP 5G NR) fixed wireless access (FWA) by its faster speeds. The average speed of broadband connections in the US in 2018 was about 35 megabits per second. In contrast, 5G can theoretically operate at up to 1 gigabit per second, although initial deployments will be much slower.

Survey respondents cited streaming of video, both prerecorded and live, as the most compelling reason to upgrade home internet service. A total of 74 percent of those surveyed named video streaming as the chief motivation for upgrading to 5G in the home.

This phenomenon is not surprising as IHS Markit forecasts that global over-the-top (OTT) video subscriptions will pass the 1 billion mark in 2021, up from 620 million at the end of last year. In 2022, OTT video subscriptions will surpass pay-TV subscriptions.

About IHS Markit Digital Orbit:

IHS Markit’s Digital Orbit report summarizes the results of a survey on how consumers perceive 5G and how they intend to use the new technology. The survey was conducted May 22-27 among 2,031 respondents, 95 percent of whom were US-based. The median age of the survey respondents was 43, and 63 percent lived in urban areas.

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4 thoughts on “IHS Markit: Video streaming is killer app for 5G (mobile and FWA) in U.S.

  1. “The promise of faster video streaming through 5G is generating enormous enthusiasm among consumers,” is probably true, but is uninformed. 4K generally runs at 12-22 Mbps. Many 4G connections are over 100 Mbps and speeds are increasing rapidly.
    In addition, the tested latency in most 5G deployments is ~30 ms. Many 4G LTE networks are 40 ms. https://5gwnews.com/2019/08/23/2019-facts-200-mbps-30-ms-latency-few-new-apps-or-uses/
    “The deployment of 5G will help cause video usage to grow to account for 70 percent of mobile network traffic in 2022, up from 47 percent in 2015.” 5G does very little for video in the real world. This article should be revisited. Dave Burstein

    1. Dave, The article was written by Joshua Builta, IHS Markit analyst, as per byline and not by me! I have no idea where they get their forecast numbers or percentages from.

      I only edited Mr. Builta’s reference to “the 5G standard allows for FWA…” There is no 5G standard yet (IMT 2020 won’t be completed till end of 2020 or later) and it will NOT include FWA which is not an IMT 2020 use case.

  2. Dave makes a good point in the sense that the use-case for video over wireless is already fairly well served. And, if this becomes just another way to get entertainment video into the home, then what’s the rush for 5G? Is it really needed as some sort of national competitive must-have?

  3. by Josh Builta, IHS-Markit senior principal analyst for transformative technologies

    Real-world 5G networks are now a reality. In the first half of 2019, multiple operators in North America and Asia launched wireless 5G networks. As of early 2019, IHS Markit noted launches of 5G networks in 11 countries by 20 different operators. Although the availability of many of these networks is limited to a handful of markets as carriers stress-test the systems and slowly roll them out to different users, the launches do represent an important stepping stone for 5G technology. These initial networks will expand in coverage and capability in the coming months, and more operators will launch their first 5G networks by the end of the year.

    Growing 5G infrastructure revenue indicates increased investment and preparation for the technology. While much of the growth in 2019 stems from activity in South Korea and the US, mobile operators in other countries are expected to ramp up their investment in 5G equipment over the next 12 months. In China alone, its three service providers have budgeted at least $1.34 billion for 5G in 2019. IHS Markit estimates that total 5G hardware infrastructure revenue will increase from just $759 million in 2018 to over $20 billion in 2022. The first 5G-capable devices have been released in recent months. Given the initial focus on the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and fixed-wireless access features of 5G technology, it is not surprising that the first wave of devices have been smartphones and routers. While the initial selection of devices is limited and the devices come with very high average sales prices, this represents an important milestone for the technology. Less expensive devices are expected to be released in the next six months, supported by a growing list of competitive 5G modems from Qualcomm, Samsung, Intel, Mediatek, HiSilicon, and UNISoC. An IHS Markit survey of consumers found that demand for 5G devices is strong: 66% of respondents said they would wait for a 5G device before making their next smartphone purchase. As a result, IHS Markit estimates shipments of 5G handsets to reach nearly 9.5 million in 2019 and 609 million by 2025. Another driver for the growth in the 5G readiness score is growing interest and investment from the potential enterprise end-users of 5G technology. An IHS Markit survey of decision-makers from six industries—automotive, consumer, healthcare, manufacturing, power and energy, and telecoms—found that 78% believe there is strong-tosignificant interest in 5G adoption within their industry. Perhaps more important, the survey also found that 48% of respondents believe their organizations will invest high or significant resources in the technology over the next 12 months, which will be critical to hastening adoption.

    The confluence of these factors led to the increase in the overall 5G readiness score in Digital Orbit Q2 2019. Looking at the scores in more detail, we can see which specific measures contributed to this increase:
    • Technology development, which grew due to the growing number of networks and devices • Industry investment, an indication of the financial outlay from operators and potential enterprise adopters
    • Industry demand, an increase based on survey results


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