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National 5G Wireless Network Global Competition

Nothing can stop the continued growth of global wireless communications. Despite a slight decline in the worldwide mobile subscriber base resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile network operators across different markets continue to expand fifth-generation (5G) infrastructure deployments.

By the end of 2020, 264 million subscriptions were achieved. According to the worldwide market study by ABI Research, the 5G market will continue to accelerate and reach 2.6 billion subscriptions -- that's a significant contribution to mobile network operator revenue of $942 billion in 2026.

5G Wireless Network Market Development

Driven by the investment of local network operators, China is a leader of the 5G market, holding more than two-thirds of worldwide 5G subscriptions at present. The United States is second in 5G adoption with more than 50 million subscribers, followed by the leading markets in Japan and South Korea.

"Operators' effort to expand 5G networks, combined with quickly increasing 5G smartphone penetration, will drive 5G subscriptions to reach 507 million at the end of 2021, almost double from 2020," said Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research.

Alongside 5G network rollouts, mobile operators implement strategies to promote 5G adoption. and boost revenue. Verizon launched its 5G upgrade campaign, a promotional program to encourage its customers to upgrade to 5G smartphone devices.

China Mobile, launched a new set of applications such as 4K live streaming and cloud-based 5G games to drive the 5G user base and revenue. As the 5G user base continues to increase, some network operators have witnessed improvement in the mobile average revenue per user (ARPU).

Similarly, 5G network deployments for industry verticals -- such as healthcare, automotive and smart transportation, and industrial applications -- are expected to drive mobile operator revenue in the years to come.

Mobile data traffic, mainly driven by the need to stay connected during the pandemic, surged almost 60 percent to exceed 591 exabytes in 2020. Increasing use of mobile networks to access video content, digital payments, online retail, and video conferencing have been contributing to the traffic growth.

According to the ABI assessment, ongoing 5G roll-outs will drive the adoption of higher data service packages as well as the use of data-intensive applications such as video streaming and gaming to fuel mobile traffic growth during the forecast period.

ABI Research forecasts that mobile communications traffic will expand more than 5 times in 2026 compared to 2020. More than half of mobile traffic will be generated by 5G networks.

As telecom providers accelerate their 5G network infrastructure upgrades, it is important for these operators to pursue and capture revenue-generating opportunities by forming new service offerings.

Outlook for 5G Network Applications Growth

 "While video is among the major drivers of higher-speed connectivity, the ability to bundle 5G mobile packages with AR/VR based services for education, healthcare, and social networking can boost 5G business potential in the consumer market. Leveraging 5G capability and end-to-end network slicing can also enable operators to capture enterprise opportunities to deliver performance-guaranteed services and maximize the ROI," Lynn concludes.

That said, here in the U.S. market, I believe there is a significant upside opportunity for 5G-enabled fixed wireless broadband service offerings that compete directly with incumbent wireline telecom service providers (both telco and cable). Competition in this market doesn't compare to high-speed broadband service capabilities and prices within leading European or Asia-Pacific markets.

According to the latest OECD data, among 35 countries studied, the United States has the second-highest broadband costs in the world. The new 'Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal' will deliver $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. This is a much-needed economic development program.

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