5G Dominance and Investment Surge Anticipated by Decade’s End

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By the end of this decade, the global number of 5G connections is expected to surge to 5.5 billion, positioning 5G as the leading mobile technology by 2028. This forecast comes from the latest research released by the GSMA. Despite a significant phase of investment in the 5G network already behind us, the mobile industry is set for continuous financial commitment towards enhancing this technology in the coming years.

As the year 2023 concluded, the world saw 5G connections hit the 1.6 billion mark, marking an impressive growth spurt of approximately 600 million within just a year. This upward trend is anticipated to maintain momentum, with 5G connections projected to represent 56% of all mobile connections by 2030.

An update from the sector revealed that as of recently, 261 operators across 101 countries have initiated commercial 5G services. This expansion is further supported by an additional 90 operators in 64 markets who have pledged to deploy 5G. Notably, a modest count of these services are powered by standalone 5G networks, a deployment model that has seen slower uptake than initially expected. However, the GSMA highlights plans for 89 more such deployments shortly, aiming to unlock full-scale 5G capabilities including network slicing, enhanced reliability, and simplified architecture.

Network slicing, in particular, is recognized by half of the operators surveyed as a key advantage of 5G, promising new revenue streams. Moreover, 5G’s role in fixed wireless access (FWA) is underscored as a significant early use case, with 117 operators in 57 markets already offering 5G-based FWA solutions.

Looking forward, the industry is on the brink of adopting 5G-Advanced standards, with expectations for rapid deployment post-standardization. This next evolution of 5G technology promises further innovation and investment, particularly in pioneering markets.

Despite reaching a peak in capital expenditure for 5G, the mobile industry anticipates spending $1.5 trillion on this technology from 2023 to 2030. This continued investment reflects the sector’s push towards automation and operational efficiency, even as it braces for ongoing high operational costs. With global mobile revenues projected to reach $1.25 trillion by 2030, the financial foundation appears solid for sustaining the ambitious expansion and enhancement of 5G networks globally.

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