5G Technology Overview, Use Cases and Demand Forecast: Addressing Latency, Reliability and Network Density Opens Up New Business Opportunities
Mobile data is expected to continue to show very high growth: between 2016 and 2021 monthly global mobile data is forecast to increase at a CAGR of 48%, increasing from 7 ExaBytes (EB) to 49EB per month. Smartphones will continue to be the key device, increasing their mobile data contribution from 81% to 86% during this time. IoT devices will be the only other device category to increase their mobile data contribution, from 2% to 5%, while the data contribution from PCs, tablets and other phones each decline as a percentage, although data will continue to grow in absolute terms.
3GPP has agreed to bring forward the finalization of the IMT 2020 standard, but a few pre-standard 5G networks are being rolled out during 2017. LTE penetration has reached 60% in several markets and over 70% for some operators, while average monthly smartphone data consumption is set to grow fourfold in the next five years, and the volume of mobile data will continue to grow fast. Progressive operators in advanced markets are pushing for early 5G launches, and the first commercial, standardized services may launch as early as late 2018, despite the nomenclature. Many more operators will launch in the following couple of years.
5G will, for the first time, go beyond increased bandwidth and capacity, as was the focus in previous wireless generations, adding low latency, high density and high reliability. These capabilities will enable a variety of use cases, opening the door to new, predominantly business focused services such as self-driving cars and smart cities. 5G also supports the focus that many operators have in looking for new, adjacent revenue streams, including fixed-mobile integration, digital content and IoT.
5G supports a very wide range of frequency bands, from sub-1GHz through to 40GHz plus, as well as shared and unlicensed spectrum. This enables operators to choose from a range of different deployment strategies: the first 5G networks will use 28GHz deployed in dense urban environments and can be used to offer fixed-wireless services; most operators will start by using medium frequency spectrum, typically 3.5GHz, the most harmonized band internationally, for urban and semi-urban coverage to provide enhanced mobile broadband services; thus far, one operator (T-Mobile USA) has announced that it will launch 5G on low frequency spectrum (600MHz), with the advantage of rapid, low cost rollout, although bandwidth will be limited.
In some markets, notably South Korea and Japan, the environment is well suited for 5G, with widespread fibre availability, large scale small cell deployments, high LTE penetration (across all the operators) and a supportive regulator. Strong competition and short device upgrade cycles will also mean that, in both markets, the three major mobile operators are expected to deploy early, resulting in high 5G adoption.
The US also enjoys strong mobile traffic growth, but fibre is not quite as widely available and small cell deployment is still limited. Nevertheless, the FCC, the regulator is helping to address some of these issues and all the four large networks have announced they want to launch commercial services before the end of 2019. Similarly Japan is also expected to be a competitive 5G market, and we estimate that 36% of mobile subscriptions will be 5G capable.
The report 5G Technology Overview, Use Cases and Demand Forecast provides an overview of the 5G technology and the main trends worldwide. Data consumption is set to grow fourfold in the next five years. 5G will, for the first time, go beyond increased bandwidth and capacity, as was the focus in previous wireless generations, adding low latency, high density and high reliability.
In depth, this report provides the following -