The number of 5G subscriptions would reach 507 million at the end of 2021 from 264 million by the end of 2020. The 5G market will reach 2.6 billion subscriptions, contributing significantly to mobile operator revenue of $942 billion in 2026, says ABI Research.
China is holding more than two-thirds of the worldwide 5G subscriptions thanks to huge investment by China Mobile and other operators. The United States is second in 5G adoption with more than 50 million subscribers, followed by leading markets Japan and South Korea.
GSMA says mobile operators in North America will invest $300 billion in their networks between 2020 and 2025, of which 98 percent will be dedicated to 5G.
5G coverage and open RAN top RAN priorities, while virtualization investments and security are critical for the core network, says GSMA.
IDC said 5G will constitute 38.8 percent of total mobile connections and 41.3 percent of total mobile spending by the end of the forecast period in 2025. Worldwide spending on telecommunications and pay TV services is forecast to reach $1.5 trillion in 2021, representing an increase of 1 percent over 2020, IDC said,
Alongside 5G network roll outs, mobile operators implement strategies to promote 5G adoption and boost revenue. Verizon launched its 5G upgrade campaign, a promotional program to encourage its customers to upgrade to 5G devices.
China Mobile launched a new set of applications such as 4K live streaming and cloud-based 5G games to drive the 5G user base and revenue. As the 5G user base continues to increase, some operators have witnessed improvement in the mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) in recent quarters.
Similarly, 5G network deployments for industry verticals such as healthcare, automotive and smart transportation, industrial applications, etc., are expected to drive mobile operator revenue in the years to come.
Mobile traffic, mainly driven by the need to stay connected during the pandemic, surged almost 60 percent to exceed 591 exabytes in 2020.
“Increasing use of mobile networks to access video content, digital payments, online retail, and video conferencing have been contributing to the traffic growth. Ongoing 5G roll outs will drive the adoption of higher data packages as well as the use of data intensive applications such as video streaming and gaming to fuel mobile traffic growth,” Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst of ABI Research, said.
ABI Research forecasts that mobile traffic will expand more than 5 times in 2026 compared to 2020. More than half of mobile traffic will be generated by 5G networks.
While video is among the major drivers of higher speed connectivity, the ability to bundle 5G mobile packages with AR/VR based services for education, healthcare and social networking can boost 5G business potential in the consumer market.
“Leveraging 5G capability and end-to-end network slicing can enable operators to capture enterprise opportunities to deliver performance guaranteed services and maximize the ROI,” Lynn said.
TBR says SPs and their tech vendors must transition to the fundamentally new network architecture, which is software-based, fully virtualized and cloud-centric. SPs must determine where they will play in the value chains that are being created in the digital economy, most notably in hyperscalers’ marketplaces, Chris Antlitz at Technology Business Research said.