Analyst firm says 5G connections to grow more than 217% a year through 2023
Mobile network operators will need to invest in partnerships with technology and service vendors and become trusted advisors as the number of 5G connections grows rapidly in the coming years, according to IDC analysts.
The Lowdown: In a report this week, the market research firm is predicting that the number of connections using the next-generation cellular wireless technology will grow from about 10 million this year to 1.01 billion in 2023 – more than 217% a year during that time – when they will account for 8.9% of all mobile device connections.
The Details: 5G has been much talked about for several years, with major mobile network operators prepping their infrastructure for the technology. It began ramping in earnest this year and promises to bring significant gains in speed and latency over current 4G and LTE, as well as the ability to support a lot more devices simultaneously.
Driving 5G in the next few years will be:
> Data creation and consumption: The amount of data being generated will continue to grow, and moving users to 5G networks will enable network operators to better manage resources and improve performance and reliability.
> Connected things: As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, networks will have to support millions of connected devices, systems, and sensors at the same time.
> Speed and real-time access: New use cases in such areas as edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud services will demand greater speed and lower latency in networks.
That said, there are steps beyond building out the 5G infrastructure that mobile network operators will need to take:
> Invest in must-have apps: The companies will need to work with developers and help fund the creation of 5G mobile apps that take advantage of 5G’s speed, latency, and density benefits.
> Invest in partnerships: This includes hardware, software, and service vendors, as well as others in the industry, to integrate the technologies needed for the most complex 5G use cases.
> Become trusted advisors: The operators need to give customers and partners guidance on 5G, from providing connectivity to dispelling misconceptions.
The Buzz: “While there’s a lot to be excited about with 5G, and there are impressive early success stories to fuel that enthusiasm, the road to realizing the full potential of 5G beyond enhanced mobile broadband is a longer-term endeavor, with a great deal of work yet to be done on standards, regulations, and spectrum allocations,” said Jason Leigh, research manager for Mobility at IDC. “Despite the fact that many of the more futuristic use cases involving 5G remain three to five years from commercial scale, mobile subscribers will be drawn to 5G for video streaming, mobile gaming, and AR/VR [augmented and virtual reality] applications in the near term.”