5G to boom in Asia with new investment, but where’s revenue

The latest GSMA report said Asia Pacific will become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025 — fuelled by 5G investments in Australia, China, Japan and South Korea.
Capex of Asia Pacific operators
India, which is home to telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, BSNL and Reliance Jio, did not find a space in the 5G report from GSMA.

Telecom operators are expected to launch 5G networks in these markets beginning next year. The number of 5G connections will reach 675 million by 2025 the Asia region, representing more than half of the global 5G.

Capex of telecom operators in Asia Pacific region will be $188 billion during 2018-2020, GSMA estimates.

Mobile operators in Asia will invest almost $200 billion over the next few years in upgrading and expanding their 4G networks and launching new 5G networks in order to accelerate the growth of Asia’s digital economies and societies, according to Mats Granryd, director general of GSMA.

But telecom operator revenues will be growing to $454 billion in 2025 from $416 billion in 2017.

The marginal growth in operator revenue is a big concern for the region’s telecom operators – especially ahead of spending huge funds on the next generation networks. Telecom analysts say that the marginal growth in mobile operator revenue will put break on 5G investments and spectrum auctions.
Asia 5G connections forecastMobile operators will enhance mobile broadband services, supplementing the capacity and capabilities of existing mobile broadband networks, particularly in dense urban areas with the 5G launches in Asia, based on 3GPP Release 15.

Mobile operators will target 5G’s 3GPP Release 16 to lay the foundation to support 5G use cases and innovations, including massive connectivity and low-latency services such as Internet of Things (IoT), critical communication services (e.g. remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, smart grids) and virtual reality.

62 percent of Asia’s mobile connections will be running on 4G networks and 14 percent on 5G by 2025. This is due to 4G investment in 4G markets such as Japan and South Korea, as well as emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Concerns about investment

Syniverse said that 4G LTE roaming traffic volumes from Asia Pacific to other regions around the globe grew 317 percent in 2017.

LTE made up 43 percent of the roaming traffic out of Asia Pacific in 2018 against 26 percent in 2017.

Syniverse said 57 percent of roaming traffic exported from Asia Pacific is traversing older network technologies, like 3G. This indicates that telecom operators are not making adequate investment to enhance network capability.

Asia had 2.7 billion unique mobile subscribers in Asia, equivalent to about 67 percent of region’s population in 2017. This number is forecast to grow to 3.2 billion (73 percent of population) by 2025, with about half of the new subscribers added over this period coming from India.

China 5G

Chinese mobile operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom — have plans to invest in 5G networks.

Another GSMA report said China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom should explore three industry vertical sectors such as automotive, drones, and manufacturing to boost revenue from 5G.

China will become the world’s largest 5G market by 2025, accounting for 430 million 5G connections or one-third of the global total, according to GSMA Intelligence.

China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are currently conducting live 5G trials as part of a multi-year plan that includes R&D, network deployment strategy and development of harmonised standards targeting to launch 5G by 2020.

Chinese operators will focus on dense urban centres initially before rolling out to surburban and rural areas.

China IoT

GSMA announced that mobile operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, KDDI, LG Uplus, Orange, Telefonica, Telenor Group, Telia, Turkcell, Vodafone and Zain have committed to implement the GSMA IoT Security Guidelines.

There will be reach 3.1 billion IoT connections by 2025, according to GSMA Intelligence.

GSMA Intelligence estimates that there will be 13.8 billion IIoT connections globally by 2025 with China accounting for 65 percent. Greater China accounts for approximately 4.1 billion of these connections or a third of the global market.

GSMA says Asia Pacific will become the largest region of IoT revenue, reaching $386 billion by 2025.