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How 5G Will Generate $6.2 Trillion in Service Revenues

Telecom service providers across the globe have invested significantly in updating their network infrastructure to take advantage of the operational efficiencies enabled by each new generation of wireless communications technology. The next wave of investment has already begun.

According to the latest global market study by ABI Research, fifth-generation (5G) wireless is expected to have 12 million connections worldwide by the end of 2019. The number of 5G connections will then grow rapidly to 205 million worldwide at the end of 2020.

5G Infrastructure Market Development

The new generation is expected to grow much faster than anticipated, and it's believed that 5G connections will overtake 4G connections in 2025. ABI Research expects approximately 3 billion 5G connections in 2025 with 4G declining from its current 3.9 billion to 2.2 billion in the same year.

"Despite the challenges faced by early adopters and the relatively high prices of 5G-capable smartphones in 2019, ABI Research expects 5G to reach the mass market mid-2020, by which time China will start to dominate in terms of connections, and as a result, market interest and technology expertise," said Dimitris Mavrakis, research director at ABI Research.

The infrastructure value chain is maturing, handset vendors are manufacturing mid-tier 5G handsets, and mobile consumers are now discovering higher speeds, better user experiences, and new services -- including cloud gaming and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.

According to the ABI assessment, all of these market developments will contribute to the explosion of consumer 5G service offerings within 2020.

However, China will dominate 5G deployment after all mobile service providers launch in November 2019 -- having deployed 5G network infrastructure in 50 cities before launching.

Chinese mobile network operators are now forecast to have 143 million subscribers at the end of 2020, which will represent an overwhelming 70 percent of total connections worldwide.

In contrast, U.S. mobile network operators will reach approximately 28 million during the same year. Moreover, in 2025, China is expected to have 1.1 billion 5G subscribers and the United States, 318 million subscribers.

Outlook for 5G Infrastructure and Revenue Growth 

Globally, ABI Research expects mobile service providers to invest nearly $1.2 trillion in the next 5 years to build out their networks. That investment will likely generate nearly $6.2 trillion in service revenues from the mobile consumer communications market.

"Although most mobile 5G subscribers will be in China, mobile service provider revenues will still be higher in the United States in 2025, mainly driven by higher service subscription prices," Mavrakis concludes.

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