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COVID-19 fails to put brakes on 5G rollout – report

Updates on 5G's expected value and the impact of COVID-19 are familiar topics this year, and a new report from Juniper Research combines both elements to provide some assurances that 5G network rollouts have proved resilient to the pandemic.

According to the research company, supply chain disruptions at the start of the health crisis "have been mitigated through modified physical rollout procedures, in order to maintain the momentum of hardware deployments."

Looking up: The coronavirus pandemic hasn't put the brakes on 5G growth, according to Juniper Research.  (Source: engin akyurt on Unsplash.)
Looking up: The coronavirus pandemic hasn't put the brakes on 5G growth, according to Juniper Research.
(Source: engin akyurt on Unsplash.)

Juniper Research is now forecasting that operator billed revenue from 5G connections will reach $357 billion by 2025, increasing from $5 billion in 2020.

"By 2025, 5G revenue is expected to represent 44% of global operator billed revenue owing to rapid migration of 4G mobile subscribers to 5G networks and new business use cases enabled by 5G technology," the company said.

The study found that 5G uptake has surpassed initial expectations, and it predicts that total 5G connections will surpass 1.5 billion by 2025. It also forecast that the average 5G connection will generate 250% more revenue than an average cellular connection by 2025.

Latency matters

In order to achieve such returns on 5G, the onus is on operators to ensure their networks are up to the mark.

Juniper urges them to use future launches of standalone 5G networks "as an opportunity to further increase virtualisation in core networks."


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The company also suggests that operators will charge a premium for very low-latency services and network slicing — a strategy that is already becoming evident among operators.

According to research author Sam Barker, "operators will compete on 5G capabilities, in terms of bandwidth and latency. A lesser 5G offering will lead to user churn to competing networks and missed opportunities in operators' fastest-growing revenue stream."

Juniper has previously predicted that 5G connections will reach 1.5 billion by 2025, attributing this to progress in South Korea and the United States. The GSMA, meanwhile, predicted 5G connections will reach 1.8 billion by 2025.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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