For some time now, most have been talking about 5G in the academic sense. In fact, many times it sounds like we are all waiting for Godot and wondering when he will come. Well, if the researchers at Ovum (News - Alert) are correct 5G looks to be arriving on time, i.e., in roughly four years, and the projected numbers for adoption are impressive.
Ovum projects that, by the end of 2021—basically the first full year after the expected launch of 5G in 2020—there will be 24 million 5G subscriptions for both mobile and fixed broadband. North America and Asia will take the clear majority, accounting for about 40 percent of that total, with Europe taking 10 percent. The remaining 10 percent will come from the Middle East and Africa.
Ovum further notes that, by the end of 2021, 5G services will be available in over 20 markets in all four primary world regions. Most of the 5G subscriptions will focus on the usual locations: China, Japan, South Korea and the United States. The reason is both historical in terms of next generation communications rollouts, and the fact those the major mobile providers have already revealed aggressive plans to bring out 5G services.
Several other providers have plans to bring out what are considered to be 5G services, but Ovum didn't include these in their projections and metrics based on a view that similar and/or what can best be called pre-5G transitional capabilities are not and will not be built around 5G standards.
What does qualify as 5G for forecasting purposes?
Ovum counts a project if it features an active connection to a 5G network, using a 5G device, and the network itself is both based on and compliant with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards, starting with 3GPP Release 15, which will be complete in 2018.
There it is in a nutshell: the roadmap for the next few years until 5G finally arrives and we get our fullest look at how much impact this will have on a market that's absolutely starving for bandwidth. 5G is being hyped as the solution o just about everything. Benefits are cited ranging from bandwidth caps to rural connectivity to being optimized for the Internet of Things (IoT).
5G may not be the ultimate solution to cure our current bandwidth woes, but is more than an incremental leap forward which is why interest is so high. Indeed, given the difficulty of accurately predicting the future because of the accelerating speed at which innovation is taking place in almost every aspect of ICT, there is little doubt that some new thing yet to be imagined will create a clamor for 6G just as 5G is ready to rock and roll. In the meantime, based on evolving 5G use cases, it is entirely possible that Ovum’s numbers are conservative.
Edited by Peter Bernstein