Gartner Group forecasts that the worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will double between 2019 and 2020. [That’s really amazing since the IMT 2020 standard for 5G RIT/SRITs won’t be completed till December 2020. That means each and every 5G pre-standard deployment is proprietary to the wireless network operator].
The market research firm has predicted that the global 5G network infrastructure revenue will reach $4.2bn in 2020, an 89% increase from 2019 revenue of $2.2bn.
Additionally, Gartner forecasts that investments in 5G 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.
Gartner believes that 7% of CSPs across the globe have already deployed 5G infrastructure in their networks. However, all of those pre-IMT 2020 standard 5G networks use different frequencies and require a LTE network for the control and management planes.
“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 (NSA) technology. That means LTE signaling, EPC (LTE mobile packet core) and LTE based network management. In most, but not all 5G deployments 3GPP release 15 “5G NR” is used for the data plane.
3GPP 5G New Radio NSA enables wireless network operators to introduce 5G services that run more quickly, as 5G New Radio (NR) equipment can be rolled out alongside existing 4G-LTE core network infrastructure.”
In 2020, CSPs will roll out stand-alone 5G technology, which will require 5G NR equipment and a 5G core network.
Table 1: Wireless Infrastructure Revenue Forecast, Worldwide, 2018-2021 (Millions of Dollars)
LTE and 4G
Due to rounding, figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.
Source: Gartner (August 2019)
5G services will launch in many major cities in 2019 and 2020, Gartner predicts, and 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 network building through 2020.
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.
CSPs Will Increasingly Aim 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.
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.
This will be most evident between 2019 and 2021, when 5G coverage will primarily be used for hot spots and better coverage of high population density.
Key Challenges for 5G in the enterprise:
The potential performance benefits of 5G networks intrigue enterprises, but service providers have provided few granular details about the availability and full specifications of existing and planned 5G coverage, compatible endpoints and planned 5G corporate service plan structures.
Providers’ plans regarding pricing and service plan structures for 5G beyond initial launches remain unclear.
Mobile providers have not aligned their early performance claims for 5G with concrete plans to offer guarantees for throughput speeds, latency, network availability and security.
Enterprises with planned applications or use cases that are reliant on 5G attributes report getting little carrier guidance on how to implement or integrate with incipient 5G networks.
CSP Migration from Network Services to Digital Services:
Different access technologies will support the requirements of different connectivity use cases (such as using network as a service).
Network services remain important for CSPs that are diversifying into adjacent digital services. However, their most strategic asset will be the real-time information about network usage and behavior, which can be used to optimize experience based on context (such as mobile self-organizing networks do, for instance). This information also improves decision making for further infrastructure investment for capacity and performance. A drive to open-source infrastructure and software is also prevalent, not only in the core network elements, but also increasingly in the radio access.
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